Marion Bourchier lives happily in Hauraki with her husband and daughter, with two more daughters overseas. For the past 15 years Marion has worked for Waitemata Health, yet her life hit a hurdle in 2014 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer following a routine mammogram.
"My surgeon said it wouldn’t have been felt for several years because it was so imbedded. So I am forever grateful for funded mammograms. In many ways, I now see my diagnosis as a blessing in disguise, because it led me to join our dragon boat team and I have since developed so many new friendships."
We chatted to Marion about her journey into the sport of dragon boating...
Channel Magazine: What drew you to dragon boating initially?
Marion Bourchier: A friend heard I had had breast cancer and asked me if I would join the Busting with Life Breast Cancer Survivors dragon boat team. My daughters had done this at school years ago, so I thought I would give it a go.
CM: How long have you been involved and where do you do this?
MB: I joined the team in 2014 - the same year I was diagnosed. We train in at St Mary’s Bay before Christmas and then on Lake Pupuke after Christmas.
CM: Which other sports are you / have you been involved in?
MB: I like walking every day and have recently done the Northland Twin Coast cycle trail. I try to go to Pilates two or three times a week. I also love getting out on my paddle board. Back in my youth I loved netball.
CM: What gives you the most pleasure through participating in this sport?
MB: The team! It is a wonderful group of ladies ranging from 40 to 70 years and the bond of friendship is incredible. The breast cancer connection is the least talked about topic. We go away for weekends to compete and have so much fun while staying away. I think because a lot of these women have faced enormous hurdles while going through treatment, they have learnt to celebrate life and make the most of it.
CM: How do you train?
MB: We train in a dragon boat twice a week for an hour after work down at St Mary’s Bay or on Lake Pupuke. Of course not everyone can always make every training, so we try to maintain our own fitness as well.
CM: How would you encourage anyone to come along and join the team?
MB: I wouldn’t wish breast cancer on anyone, but if they have had it and are now looking for a new challenge and friendship I would say give us a go! The rewards are enormous. The benefits of dragon boat paddling after breast cancer surgery has been well proven by a Canadian doctor who started this sport for breast cancer survivors many years ago. It helps, particularly, with lymphodema.
CM: In five years time I hope to…
MB: Still be fit and active and enjoying each day.
CM: What should readers who are keen to give it a try do to get involved?
MB: Look at the Busting with Life website or contact me, Marion, on 027 256 5827.