Breast cancer survivor here to promote program

Former Nadi resident Dolly Devi is a living testimony that cancer is treatable and is not a death sentence. Picture: SOPHIE RALULU

TWO years ago, Dolly Devi’s world turned upside down when she first learned she had breast cancer.

As a result, the Fiji-born Canadian went through a state of denial and depression, feeling there was no hope of surviving the disease.

But with a determined heart, she later survived multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation sessions.

Today, the former Nadi resident is a living testimony that cancer is treatable and is not a death sentence.

Twenty-five years after leaving the country, she is back — to promote the setting up of Fiji’s very own chapter of breast cancer dragon boat paddling, a sports and recreational activity for breast cancer survivors.

Ms Devi launched the “Fiji D Dragons” breast cancer dragon paddling team in Suva this week and will do a similar program at the Tanoa Skylodge Hotel in Nadi at 6pm today.

“A few years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had gone through multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation sessions in my hometown,” Ms Devi said.

“I learned through this experience that cancer does not discriminate based on ethnicity, social status, occupation or religion. It can happen to anyone.”

Ms Devi pulled out of her physical, mental and emotional dilemma after learning to live a positive mind-set and sharing her experience with others.

“One may think that life is to blame for tragic events, but it is what you make of it. Misfortune happens to those who truly do not deserve it, but you can navigate through this by using your positive energy and practising a healthy lifestyle.”

Ms Devi overcame her challenges by joining the sport of dragon boat racing.

“In 2017, I joined ‘Abreast In A Boat’ (breast cancer dragon boat team) and it changed my life forever. This activity fuelled my inherent love of water sports while providing a physical and emotional healing.

“I saw the true power of being a cancer survivor and found a new appreciation for my body and its strength. I am from Fiji and I want to bring this experience to Fiji so that other survivors can share in this wonderful life-changing sport with me.”

She said she was making the most of this new lease on life by living out examples of positivity and resilience.

Breast cancer survivor Mereoni Taginadavui said the initiative would go a long way in creating more awareness about the disease in Fiji and empowering women survivors to share and celebrate their experiences.

Started by Canadian sports medicine physician, Dr Don McKenzie, breast cancer dragon boating is an initiative under the International Breast Cancer Paddlers’ Commission (IBCPC), targeted at developing and recreating dragon boat as a contribution to a healthy lifestyle for those diagnosed with breast cancer, The sport is now taken up by 202 teams representing 21 countries from six continents of the world.

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