Melanie Gotell is honoured by her Friends Abreast dragon boat team, a team made up of breast cancer survivors and friends, by a paddle arch she walked through on Aug. 4, 2020 after she completed her last round of chemotherapy at Shuswap Lake General Hospital in Salmon Arm. COVID-19 prompted the outdoor ceremony. (Contributed)

Shuswap dragon boaters honour teammate’s cancer-fighting accomplishments

Friends Abreast team provides special recognition outside Salmon Arm hospital

Friends Abreast dragon boat team members support each other on and off the water, an attribute that was clearly visible recently.

On Aug. 4, as Melanie Gotell completed her last chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer at Shuswap Lake General Hospital in Salmon Arm, her dragon boat teammates were waiting outside to give her special recognition. They stood in two rows facing each other, their paddles held up and crossing over, creating a ceremonial paddle archway for her to walk through.

This is the second time Gotell has undergone treatment for breast cancer.

Teammate Liz Burdeniuk, who has been with the team since its beginnings in 2002, said the team does paddle arches for different occasions. They did it when a team member passed away. They’ve done it after dragon boat races, particularly following the Carnation Ceremony. At that time each paddler tosses a carnation into the water, providing a moment for everyone to think about people who have died and those who are fighting the disease.

Read more: 2018 – Friends Abreast dragon boat team gives out community bursary

Read more: 2018 – Pink Piston Paddlers return from international dragon boat festival

Friends Abreast was the first dragon boat team in Salmon Arm, Burdeniuk said, and is made of up of both survivors and friends. She said their mandate is to raise awareness of breast cancer in the community.

Although paddling – both practising and competing – is a large part of their focus, they have participated in other things. Those include the Carnation Campaign where they have handed out tags reminding people to get mammograms; volunteering at the mammogram clinics; and participating in several events including Relay for Life, the Luminary Walk, the Terry Fox Run and the Fall Fair parade.

At the Salmon Arm hospital, when a patient has done their last chemo treatment, staff will ring a bell to recognize their accomplishment, Burdeniuk said. The patient may also have friends and family there cheering.

Because of COVID-19, the Friends Abreast paddlers wanted to recognize Melanie Gotell’s accomplishments – but outdoors.

“We thought it would be really nice if we could ring the bell out there and do the paddle arch. She’s had a rough go of it.”


marthawickett@saobserver.net
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CancerPaddlingSalmon Arm

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Penticton receives grant to construct new child care facility

The $2.9 million grant will bring up to 116 additional child care spaces to the city

Child sex offender relocated from Princeton after newspaper reveals his proximity to school

Offender convicted in 2019 of charges related to sex assault and child pornography

Okanagan School of the Arts unveils fall class lineup

Pre-registration for the first course on Sept. 20

WATCH: Meet Bella, Cawston’s talking cat

Bella has achieved international recognition for her speaking skills

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Man sentenced to 7 years for gas-and-dash death of Alberta gas station owner

Ki Yun Jo was killed after Mitchell Sydlowski sped off in a stolen cube van without paying for $198 of fuel

Wanted Enderby man connected to Shuswap stabbing caught in Coldstream

Alexander Boucher, 36, is charged with attempted murder linked to a stabbing in Blind Bay

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

Open houses planned to discuss future of Summerland Aquatic Centre

Municipality seeking input about proposed replacement

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

Fundraiser set up to held 10-year-old Summerland girl with cancer

Danica Yeoman is undergoing treatment at BC Children’s Hospital

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

Most Read