Many unfamiliar sports have been surfacing recently in Qatar. Paddling is one of these, and now it is involved in the fight against cancer.
Research carried out by breast cancer specialists finds that paddling is very beneficial. The sport was initially introduced in an effort to boost patients’ spirits and improve their receptiveness to treatments. And it worked! They found that the repetitive moves in paddling strengthen the lymphatic system of those recovering from surgery. To begin with, the specialists advised recovering patients to not lift their arms higher than their heads for a long period of time, due to the removal of lymph cells during breast cancer surgery. But to their surprise, paddling actually improves the lymphatic system after surgery.
The paddling team in Qatar was founded by a group of strong women who beat breast cancer. They created a community support group for themselves by reaching out to other cancer survivors.
Sandee Thompson, one of the founders of Paddling for Cancer, says “I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, when I lived in Canada, before I came to Qatar. It was one of the hardest times of my life, and I needed real support. I did not seek support by talking to groups about how difficult cancer was and how important it is to face it and beat it. I wanted a challenge and to fight cancer my way, so I decided to join a paddling team in an effort to fight breast cancer!”
After she recovered, Thompson moved to Qatar. She greatly missed the support she had in Canada. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer a second time in 2014, she decided to set up a support group in her new home country.
The team was initially named “Dragon Paddling”, then the “Doha Fighting Team” was created. The name came from the team’s main purpose: to encourage women to fight breast cancer.
“At first, the team consisted only of breast cancer survivors, and after a while, the idea started to spread. More and more people started joining the team, survivors from all kinds of cancer,” says Thompson.
Although initially conceived for cancer survivors only, more people started to join. Some in support of fighting cancer, others who had close relatives or friends suffering from cancer.
It wasn’t easy to set up. Paddling equipment was unavailable and difficult to get hold of, and the idea itself didn’t have much support. But once the team was up and running, all that changed. The team’s enthusiasm was contagious. Those who joined invited others to join and so on, and now it is a thriving community of survivors and supporters.
Abdulrahman Ghali, a supporter of the cause, says “I was so happy to join the team and support such an important cause like fighting cancer. When I contacted them, it was my first experience paddling, and now it is my favorite sport.”
Shorooq, also a supporter, says she makes sure never to miss practice even with her busy university schedule. “Paddling is one of the things that gives me joy. I learn a lot about life and life lessons when I interact with the cancer survivors and see their strength in fighting this disease and beating it.”
There are a lot of benefits to paddling. This sport is one of the best ways to burn calories and keep the body in shape. Paddling strengthens arm muscles and the abdomen. This is because paddling involves moving the arms and abs in a certain way repeatedly.
“The strength it takes to paddle is great for your entire body,” says Thompson.
Paddlers are spreading the word about the sport and raising awareness of the importance of fighting cancer in new and innovative ways, and to build stronger community support.
Whether you are a survivor or a supporter, or simply someone who loves to try new sports, paddling can be a great way to tone your body and support a good cause. Join the team today!