After cancer treatments ended, Diane was so happy to be back on the water and back in the groove. She didn't think much about what she had been through over that long year. But soon she started hearing other women in the rowing community drop little cancer expressions, like the name of a drug or a side effect common to those who have been through treatment. Then it dawned on her that she was not the only one out there who had survived cancer and was rowing. While many women had been petrified to move their arms after surgery for fear of developing lymphedema, they were now suffering the loss of mobility with frozen shoulder as a result. Diane and the others ignored the warnings and continued to enjoy the sport they loved. It was then that Diane began her crusade.
She contacted Holly Metcalf and the two decided to put a team of breast cancer survivors together race the prestigious Head of the Charles Regatta showcasing Diane's motto: Got Life? Get Living!
Diane emailed women she knew across the country who had been treated for breast cancer and who were actively training to race in rowing events. She wanted women for this team who would be willing to share their story with anyone who would listen. They would come to Boston, train for three days under Holly's tutelage and race the 3.2 mile course down the winding Charles River in Boston. As if by divine intervention, within 48 hours she had a team of four ports, four starboards and a coxswain from as far away as California to meet the challenge. The women's ages ranged from 37 to 63. Few even knew each other but everyone was excited! Then two weeks before the event, Michelle, the youngest on the team, was re-diagnosed. After meeting with her doctors she decided to come to Boston, get a second opinion, and race the race. After that there was no turning back. If Michelle could do it, so could the rest of the team.
The team was aptly named "One in Nine" which was the statistic at the time for the number of women expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. (The number these days is 1 in 7) Media from across the country picked up on the story following the women with cameras, microphones and note pads almost every waking minute leading up to race day. A film by the same name was made documenting the experience and revealing the omens stories. The film won multiple awards in film festivals around the country.
I have never seen them as being weaker than.
I see them as being stronger than every other boat on that river.
Feeling sorry for them is not part of the program. They are relishing their chance to race together. They are not thinking about, I have breast cancer. Yes it comes up, but not when they are in that boat. That is their strength, their time to focus on being alive.
NBC Today Show -Matt Lauer & Rehema Ellis
The most important thing was not the triumph but the struggle. They are, at a glance, just like all other rowers, excited and anxious. But these women share something else in common. Besides being athletes, they are all survivors. It is the first in the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, that there has ever been a team of competitors like this.
Average age 50, some still undergoing cancer treatment, for most, their bodies no longer hold. And yet when they pull as a team they are stunning proof to everyone, including themselves, that they are as good as anyone. This is no sympathy rally for woman broken by cancer. Coach Metcalf pushed and insisted each woman measure up to rigid standards.
WBZ-TV 4-Liz Walker
Rowing is the kind of sport that works for breast cancer survivors. It is a challenge of the inner and physical strength and gives them the opportunity to connect. You have to bring all of your muscle groups into a specific position and apply mental concentration well.
WHDH TV 7-Sean Hennessey
This weekend marks a milestone, not only in sports but also in life. For some, rowing is a statement of being physically active despite a devastating disease. For others, taking control after feeling out of control is empowering.
FOX 25- Curtis Jackson
All of these women are in the same boat in more ways than one. Beating breast cancer has already given them an inner strength, rowing has given them a way to use it. Their rhythm comes through sharing a common experience.
They rely on one another in both their boat and in their lives. Nine breast cancer survivors are sending a message through their love of rowing. They hope their presence in a race that tests endurance and strength will serve as a sign of hope for other cancer survivors and raise money for breast cancer awareness.
The Sun Chronicle - Betsy Shea-Taylor
If eight breast cancer survivors and their coxswain can zip three miles down the Charles River, you can stand for a few seconds for a simple x-ray that could save your life.