City’s mayor paddles out for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October 14, 2022 BY

From left, Tina McClean, Jimmy Dewar, Cr Peter Murrihy, Deni Schimana, Traci Brown, Jet Phey Lim, Lauren Vallence, Karen Hargreves and Sally Harrison. Photos: PETER MARSHALL

CITY of Greater Geelong mayor Peter Murrihy joined the crew of Ruby the dragon boat on the Barwon River for the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Cr Murrihy, who paddled with a crew of 22 on Saturday, gained an insight into how breast cancer survivors and Dragons Abreast Geelong members gather to keep fit and socialise with others who have shared cancer experience.

“They really welcomed me with open arms, it was a real thrill,” he said.

Dubbed the Juggernauts, members have been paddling the Barwon River together for close to 20-years and compete in regattas around the state and country.

Cr Peter Murrihy aboard Ruby, the Dragons Abreast Geelong Juggernauts’ dragon boat.

“I couldn’t count how many because when I first started it was highly competitive, we literally were a force to contend with and win loads of medals,” member Grace Gomez said.

“We also paddled with the Navy during the Masters games…they asked 10 of us to join them in their boat and we got a silver medal.

“But it’s not just about medals, it’s about breast cancer awareness and how to live your life to the full… it’s just wonderful being out on the river with all the other girls.”

The mayor’s first voyage in a dragon boat contained a number of revelations, including that the “river was in a bit of flood”, he said.

Cr Peter Murrihy tries out his hand at paddling with the Juggernauts on the Barwon River.

“But it was all good. What really surprised me is they don’t actually talk about breast cancer.

“You could tell they were bouncing off each other, having a laugh, seeing the joy at what they’re doing was very special.”

Ms Gomez said the subject of breast cancer did not come up very often, but the purpose of the group is to let people know that it exists and is prevalent.

“It doesn’t discriminate… it’s about awareness of self, if you get to it on time there’s so much that can be done,” she said.

Cr Murrihy with the crew of Ruby.

Ruby is also about healing.

“We’ve had people in their 80s in the boat who’ve really enjoyed it, my original contact was in her 80s and she’d been given six months to live, but she outlived her doctor’s expectations,” Ms Gomez said.

“I thought that having the diagnosis is one thing, but going through the treatment is horrendous, it destroys you physically, mentally… but when you’re on the river, the water, it changes your outlook.

“But you’re also fitter, you use every part of your body to get that momentum in the boat, upper body strength, its brilliant exercise for everyone.”