Langley breast cancer dragon boat team still battling in offseason

October is breast cancer awareness month

It’s the offseason for dragon boat racing, but for the Langley team of 25 women fighting breast cancer their battle never ends.

The local dragon boat team is spending Breast Cancer Awareness Month doing community outreach.

“[A] common misconception was that women who have breast cancer shouldn’t do upper body exercise,” said Michelle Righetti, 51.

She’s team captain for Fort Langley’s Abreast in a Boat, joining the team about five years ago.

Abreast in a Boat is a charitable organization that raises awareness about how women can live full, active and healthy lives after a breast cancer diagnosis.

Team membership has one qualification – a breast cancer diagnosis.

“Everyone in the boat has had breast cancer so everybody knows what it’s like, and everyone’s got different stories,” she said. “We don’t really dwell on the cancer too much, but we know that we’ve got that support there if there’s anything going on.”

READ MORE: ‘It’s never too early’: B.C. women urged to speak to their doctors about breast cancer

Righetti learned she had cancer eight years ago.

“I still have cancer,” she said. “I still have it in my bones, and there are probably four people on our boat that have had recurrences.”

It was Righetti’s doctor who noticed her collarbone was swollen and sent her for further testing, which revealed she had stage four cancer.

The next step was to learn where the disease originated – breast cancer.

Righetti was 43 years old when she received the news that the cancer had spread to her bones and her ovaries.

“I thought my life would be over,”she said. “I wouldn’t get to see my kids graduate.”

She immediately began radiation treatment.

“I’m so lucky. For me that worked,” she said.

Still, each month she receives an injection in her bones and everyday she is required to take medication to keep the disease stable.

“Now I’m racing in a boat and going on a ski trip for Christmas,” she said. “It’s not the sort of doom and gloom you think it’s going to be.”

Righetti joined the local dragon boat team after she met a woman at her gym wearing one of the team’s T-shirts.

“When I got cancer, I hadn’t lived here that long from England,” she said. “I thought I don’t know how I’m going to do this, but my Abreast in a Boat girls they take care of everything.”

The women on the team range in age from their 30s to their 50s.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are, how fit you are, how big, how little, whatever it is, as long as you’ve had breast cancer, you’re on the team,” she said.

There’s a variety of roles on the team depending on a member’s fitness level. To race a dragon boat requires 20 paddlers, someone at the back to steer and a drummer at the front.

The public can meet members of the squad this coming weekend. The team will be at the annual Cranberry Festival in Fort Langley on Saturday to do their part for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

For more information about the organization visit

“You can get past this. You can carry on and live your life as full as you want to,” said Righetti.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Liberal Leon Jensen doesn’t plan to run again

After his loss Saturday night, it’s time for ‘fresh blood,’ candidate said

ELECTION: Advance polls popular with Langley voters

Nationally Elections Canada is reporting a 29 per cent increase in advance voting

Conservative Van Popta victorious in Langley-Aldergrove

The new Conservative MP said he supports SkyTrain

‘Whether I’m elected or not, I’m a member of the NDP party anyway’

Langley-Aldergrove NDP candidate Stacey Wakelin places third in her riding

Polls closed, now Langley awaits vote count

Watch your local Black Press Media newspaper website for the latest election information

Second young woman dies after rollover crash near Williams Lake

‘Someone’s going to get her heart, which is awesome, because she has the best heart in the world’

Google searches for ‘how to vote’ surge on Election Day

Interest spikes despite social media campaign by Elections Canada

Police watchdog seeking ‘key witness’ in Taser incident along Vancouver seawall

Independent Investigations Office of B.C. looking for woman who was sitting nearby with dog

Alberta man pleads guilty, fined for hunting without a licence in North Island

It’s the responsibility of each hunter or angler to know whether they are considered a B.C. Resident.

B.C. mayor apologizes for removal of Queen’s portrait from council chambers

‘I prefer to be inclusive of the many aspects of our history’

Alcohol a possible factor in crash that killed 17-year-old girl near Williams Lake

A pickup truck left the road and rolled over on Highway 20 on the weekend

Rare bird spotted in Victoria draws enthusiasts from across the continent

It’s the first time a yellow-browed warbler has been reported on the mainland of North America

B.C. woman must pay $1,000 after unleashed dog bites another

Owner should never have left Bibi unattended, tribunal member wrote

Most Read