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Can J Occup Ther. 2004 Jun;71(3):138-49.

In the eye of the dragon: women's experience of breast cancer and the occupation of dragon boat racing.

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1
School of Health and Human Performance, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS. anita.unruh@dal.ca

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Women with breast cancer are at risk of developing lymphedema following surgical and/or medical treatment of the disease. Recently, women have challenged traditional advice about limiting upper extremity activity to prevent lymphedema by participation in dragon boat racing.

PURPOSE:

In this qualitative pilot study, three women were interviewed about the meaningfulness of dragon boat racing in their lives.

METHODS:

The women were interviewed twice and their interviews analyzed using thematic analysis.

RESULTS:

Seven themes are discussed: attraction of dragon boat racing; physical and emotional well-being; competition; social support; transcendence/connectedness/oneness; re-occurrence of cancer; and, public awareness. Competition enabled the participants to rebuild self-confidence and to regain control over their physical health and emotional well-being. Balancing support and competition was key to finding satisfaction in this occupation. The women did not believe that dragon boat racing affected their risk for developing lymphedema.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS:

People who engage in the occupation of dragon boat racing find it meaningful and develop new coping strategies. Participating in dragon boat racing can decrease stress and shift the meaning of having breast cancer to a more positive view of the experience.

PMID:
15366630
DOI:
10.1177/000841740407100304
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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