#HerWorldHerStory: She leads a dragon boat team of breast cancer survivors

by Hayley Tai & Cheong Wen Xuan  /   May 19, 2020

Beating breast cancer, Singaporean Irene Chui now represents Singapore in dragon boat

#HerWorldHerStory is a collection of 60 women sharing their successes, passions, challenges, inspirations, hopes and dreams. Together, they give a snapshot of what it is to be a woman today.

Every month from March till August, we present 10 women navigating their lives now – and in their own words. Check out Irene Chui’s story…

Outfit Cos Hair Ash Loi/Sonder Hair, using Keune Haircosmetics Singapore Makeup Eunice Wong WY

I never thought I would say this, even after surviving breast cancer, but the human body is much stronger than you think it is. I joined the Breast Cancer Foundation’s (BCF) dragon boat team, Paddlers In The Pink, to keep fit. In 2014, I took over as captain and went on to lead the team to represent Singapore in many competitions, such as the International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission Dragon Boat Festivals in Italy and the US. It has been an empowering journey, and I never imagined that I could achieve something like that!

When I first joined Paddlers In The Pink, it was just a small group of survivors who came together every weekend for practice. Today, we’re a 56-strong team.

The sport has bonded us, making each of us physically and mentally stronger.

And, we take dragon boating seriously even though we’re a team of aunties! Every weekend, rain or shine, we train at Kallang Water Sports Centre at 7.30am.

This year, we started the Tuesday evening boot camp sessions and most of us turned up even though we all have day jobs! We’re like a family. We love going out to “yum cha”, and we always have fun.

Last year, when the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival got cancelled due to the riots, we went urban hiking. When we couldn’t meet due to social distancing, we kept in regular contact by phone.

The best part is having friends who understand the severity of breast cancer. Together, we raise awareness through the sport we love.

This article was first published in Her World’s May issue. Grab a copy today!