Cancer survivors take battle to the water

More than 80 men and women, a majority of cancer survivors, have taken their battle to the water, starting a dragon boat team and competing in a variety of races.

Martin Luther King once said "we may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now."

For the cancer survivors who make up the dragon boat team, the boat carries a heavy weight.

The cancers they face are as different as they are... melanoma, colon cancer, brain cancer.

"There are 85 members. Um, I would say maybe 60 percent are survivors," said team member Linda Michenon. "Of that 60 percent I would say half of that are breast cancer survivors. "

And when the survivors can't fill the boat, family and friends fill in as reservists. Laura Healy, a reservist, says the group brings her inspiration.

Dragon boat racing dates back thousands of years to China.

In recent years, the sport has grown along the Grand Strand. The racers fit in boats that look like giant canoes with dragons' heads at the front and tails at the end.

"When we get on the boat, it's just, um, it's a magical feeling," said Kelly Beans, who coaches the team. "They give me effort every stroke of the way, and they're just wonderful people that back to the community and to one another."

The group participates in about four dragon boat races each year, and they've been doing it for about seven years.

"No one ever complains, no one ever talks about feeling sick or ill. They're just upbeat, positive, full of energy," said Healy.

On board, the ferocity doesn't come from the boat, but the strength of the people inside.

"When I am out here with this group and in the water, I forget about it. I forget that cancer can return at any time," said Michenon, a two time breast cancer survivor.

Just being around the team members is inspiring... all in the same boat... all battling the same thing.. together.