1710-1712 E Michigan Ave, Lansing, MI 48912 info@womenscenterofgreaterlansing.org 5173729163

The Connection of Dragon Boat Paddling and Breast Cancer

The Origin of Breast Cancer Paddling

In 1996, doctors in Vancouver, Canada challenged a commonly-held medical belief that strenuous upper body exercise in breast cancer patients could lead to lymphedema. They gathered a team of thrivers for a six-month training program (with the goal of racing at a festival), and the very first BCP team in the world, Abreast in a Boat, was born. Their goal was to prove that the repetitive motion of dragon boat paddling would dispel this theory and sure enough, these pioneering women completed their six-month program without a single case of lymphedema. In the process, they also learned that the social connections formed among teammates appeared beneficial to both the paddlers’ physical and mental health.

Breast cancer thrivers are also a driving force behind the growth of dragon boat in the United States. Teams participate in races locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. According to the International Breast Cancer Paddlers’ Commission (IBCPC), there are currently over 260 BCP teams across the world, representing 33 countries. In July 2018, more than 125 BCP teams traveled to Florence, Italy to race on the Arno River at the IBCPC’s International BCP Festival. In March 2023, BCP teams from around the world will gather in New Zealand (newzealandbcs2023.com) to again celebrate our Sisterhood.

The Flower Ceremony has become a heartwarming tradition of dragon boat festivals. Incorporated into a busy day of racing is a stirring moment for breast cancer paddlers to gather and reflect on their journey. Flowers are thrown into the water to embrace their sisterhood and to honor those who have died from breast cancer.

The pairing of dragon boat with breast cancer recovery is pure genius. A diagnosis of breast cancer is challenging; but joining a dragon boat team and paddling with other breast cancer survivors is empowering and life-affirming. It is a refreshing dose of exercise, connection, and positivity that makes one feel alive!

Many breast cancer thrivers may never have participated in organized sports before their diagnosis, and they now have the opportunity to demonstrate how exercise can help reduce the chance of recurrence and bring more hope and joy into their lives.

Dragon Boat Opportunities 

2021 Virtual Event

  • The Women’s Center of Greater Lansing invites you to take part in the Capital City Dragon Boat Race which will be virtual again. It is set for Thursday, September 16th through Sunday, September 19th, 2021. Join in the fun by clicking here

2022 Race

  • We are planning on hosting the Capital City Dragon Boat Race in person next year! 

Women Drive The Consumer Spending Economy, But Don’t Hold Enough Financial Power

The women of today make up more than half of the U.S. population and have a huge influence on our economy. In fact, women control over $20 trillion in annual consumer spending and drive 70-80% of all consumer purchases in the U.S. Not only are women buying for themselves, they’re often the sole person buying for their family and children. Aside from their purchases, their shopping decisions and expectations have an even greater impact, making it important for brands to understand the power this demographic holds.  

Here are a few key statistics surrounding women’s spending habits and power in the U.S. economy: 

  • In 2019, consumer spending by women in the US totaled $6.4 trillion. [Source: Catalyst]
  • Women make 91 percent of new home purchases. [Source: Top Media Advertising]
  • An average of 89 percent of women across the world reported controlling or sharing daily shopping needs, household chores and food prep compared to approximately 41 percent of men. [Source: Nielsen]
  • Women spend more money per grocery shopping trip than men, averaging out to $44.43 per trip. [Source: Nielsen]
  • In 2019, 45 percent of women said they make the majority of household and/or children’s purchases within their homes. [Source: Civic Science]
  • About half of women in the US believe that having minority-held leadership positions is important and believe that retailers would benefit from hiring Chief Diversity Officer positions. [Source: First Insight
  • 55 percent of women in the US say they would temporarily stop shopping at a brand or retailer who released an offensive product. [Source: First Insight

While women make up the largest portion of consumer spending, they still face unique financial struggles, such as the gender pay gap, female entrepreneurs receiving less than 3% of VC funding, and the “motherhood penalty” making a long-term impact in women’s ability to accumulate wealth at the same rate as men. Despite these obstacles, the number of women in the U.S. workforce has surpassed that of men and their purchasing power and sense of financial empowerment is starting to increase too. 

Check out the visual guide from Lexington Law below that highlights key facts on women’s spending power, quotes from notable women and tips for women overcoming financial obstacles. 

Why Are Women 16% More Likely To Have Mental Health Issues Due To COVID-19?

Coronavirus has left the entire nation in panic. It has taken loved ones, taken a toll on medical professionals, disrupted employment, and led to psychological devastation. Uncertainty is prevailing everywhere, and that has made a detrimental impact on both men and women’s mental health. 

Stress, loneliness, depression, and anxiety issues are getting severe with each passing day. Women especially are being disproportionately impacted. According to a survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in March, women are 16% more vulnerable to coronavirus related stress, loneliness, depression, anxiety, and worry. Around 53% of women and 37% of men are likely to suffer from mental health issues due to the coronavirus.

Around 57% of mothers and 32% of fathers of young adults have expressed that their mental health condition has worsened due to the pandemic. During the initial phase of lockdown, the figures were not so mind-boggling. In March, 36% of mothers and 31% of fathers were stressed due to coronavirus. The gap was only 5%. The psychological impact of coronavirus may increase if the situation doesn’t drastically change soon.

Why are women so vulnerable?

Women are facing the toughest challenge ever since the COVID-19 outbreak. Single mothers who have lost jobs during the pandemic are going through a very stressful time. Unemployment assistance will only last for so long. With no money or support, anxiety levels and depression have escalated in the last few months.

Questions about paying rent, school tuition fees and how long unemployment benefits will last have wreaked havoc on a single mom’s mental health. As it is, women are paid less than men due to gender discrimination in the country. Women earn 78 cents for every dollar earned by men due to the gender pay gap; and that’s even less for women of color. Economic shocks have increased their depression and anxiety levels. 

The condition of the stay-at-home moms is not better either. Many of their responsibilities have tripled during the lockdown period. From a gender equity viewpoint, partners should take 50% responsibility for household chores. But has that happened during the Pandemic? How many households are there where men take equal responsibility for household chores? With so many responsibilities and the anxiety about the uncertain future, their stress level has gone up. 

Numerous articles have outlined the increased amount of stress and responsibilities working moms are facing in the home, something which has not affected working dads in the same way.

When it comes to pregnancy, depression is already a common occurrence. The pandemic has brought added stress, isolation, and economic uncertainty. Dr. Pooja Laxmi, who works as an assistant professor of psychiatry at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., has expressed her concern over the mental health of pregnant women. She has observed a steady rise in perinatal anxiety and depression. Those who were already going through anxiety are now showing symptoms of depression as well, especially given the restrictions on movement and outdoor activities with the pandemic. 

According to the World Health Organization, gender disparity is there when it comes to mental health issues. Depression and anxiety predominate in women. And, this type of mental health disorder becomes a serious problem for one in 3 women in society. Men are more likely to be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorders and substance abuse. Every 1 in 5 has a high rate of alcohol dependence. Only 1 in 12 women have alcohol dependence. 

According to the American Psychological Association, women tend to suffer from anxiety and depression more because they tend to continuously focus on the negative emotions and problems instead of thinking about problem-solving techniques. They then tend to internalize emotions, and this can trigger loneliness, withdrawal, and depression. Environmental stressors also play a big role here.

Coping mechanisms  

Although studies are showing women becoming more susceptible to anxiety, depression, and stress than men, the pandemic has given rise to many experts, journalists and commentators exposing not only the problem, but sharing ways to mitigate stress and anxiety wherever possible. 

Coping mechanisms

  1. Pregnant women should have an honest discussion with doctors about depression and side-effects of medication. They can consult doulas and behavioral therapists online. 
  1. Articles on coping with job-related stress during COVID-19 can be helpful and provide a road map to navigating uncertain periods ahead.
  2. Finding dedicated time for self-care and relaxation. Taking a walk around the neighborhood, watching inspiring documentaries on Netflix, or scheduling time to stay away from emails, calendars and digital devices are just a few simple ways to focus on yourself.
  3. Online counseling has become an important way for many people to manage stress and depression, as an increasing number of medical professionals offer their services via the internet. 
  4. Have a discussion with your partner and those in your household about division of responsibilities. 
  5. Take advantage of technology that allows you to connect with friends and family. Loneliness has become a real problem for many people, but there are ways to ensure continued connection and communication. 
  6. To address various physical and mental health issues, you can call the OWH Helpline no 1-800-994-9662 from 9 am to 6 pm. 

COVID-19 is still a deadly viral infection. The economic impact and health hazards are too huge to be ignored. However, the pandemic has wreaked havoc on mental health as well, and it shouldn’t be ignored either. The government should take adequate steps to address mental health concerns along with the physical. 

Why Imposter Syndrome Is So Common and What We Can Do About It

Have you ever watched a candid interview with an A-list celebrity where they admit to self-doubt? Jodie Foster once said that when she won her first Oscar, she thought they’d given it to her instead of Meryl Streep by mistake. And in her HBO Special, the pop queen of confidence, Lady Gaga confessed, “I still sometimes feel like a loser kid in high school and I just have to pick myself up and tell myself that I’m a superstar every morning.” 

This can be baffling, considering the mass love these talented stars receive. But, it’s also comforting for those of us who suffer from the dreaded imposter syndrome to know we’re in good company. Most of us are familiar with that heavy sense that we’re winging it, and it’s just a matter of time before the bouncer will show us the exit door. No matter how much we accomplish, we still can’t shake that sense that we’ve tricked everyone into thinking we’re the real deal. 

These feelings can hit women hard because, socially, we’ve been taught to be modest and downplay our strengths. But, imposter syndrome affects everyone. In fact, according to the International Journal of Behavioral Science, 70% of people across the board have experienced it at some point throughout their lives. Hiding in the shadows of perfectionism, it gives everyone that universal feeling that they’re a total phony.

Imposter syndrome usually reveals itself in the form of a critical inner voice. When you’re about to post on Instagram, it warns you nobody will like that photo. When you pass a magazine stand, it chastises you for not looking like the photo shopped image staring back at you. When you score a work promotion, it assures you that clearly, it was just dumb luck. 

A few years ago, I noticed dark imposter fears creeping into my psyche, and I became curious about their origin. Whenever they surfaced, I took a step back and searched for historical connections.

I realized at the root of these thoughts were past negative experiences or off the cuff remarks from others that had stuck with me. Understanding where these thoughts came from was the first step towards freeing myself from their grasp. 

We can’t really get rid of negative thoughts altogether, but we can make them powerless. The next time that dreaded feeling that you’re a fraud looms over you like a dark cloud, here are some simple tips to help take control back.

Name That Voice

You may be well acquainted with that nasty inner voice. It finds a way to downplay your victories, and when you make a mistake, it’ll never let you live it down. Trust with full faith that this voice is not the real you. It has absolutely no say in what you’re capable of.  

“I’ve named mine,” says author and CEO of Interact Studio, Lou Solomon.  “Her name is Miss Vader, after Darth Vader, and she says awful things like ‘you don’t deserve to be here. These people are really smart.’ 

The beauty of naming that voice is once you can hear and understand it, you can do something about it. Thankfully, for every villain, there’s a hero. You also possess that loving, supportive voice. She sees reality, serves as your intuition, but most importantly, she calls out the villain’s lies. 

Don’t Chase the Candy 

At times, I’ve worked as hard as I could to get ahead. I treated life like a video game where each level I encountered gave me extra points. The issue here was each time I achieved that level, it felt great at first, like a sweet burst of candy. But later on, the feeling didn’t last. Somehow, I ended up back at square one, staring into the horizon at the next milestone I hadn’t reached. 

I’d always assumed that a successful career automatically led to a successful life. But I wasn’t looking at the full picture. Nor was I looking deeply at the meaning behind my work. I had to get honest about the type of career that would nourish my soul. When you go deep within, and ask the tough questions, you can transform your career into a calling, and find what you were really meant to do. Suddenly, those negative inner words lose their weight altogether.

Shine Your Light Outwards

Your attention can only work one way. When you’re turning inward and analyzing every failure, you may be missing out on some big opportunities to serve others. Thought leader Marie Forleo uses the concept of comparing your awareness to a flashlight. 

“When your light is focused on helping people, you’ve got zero light shining in on you,” she says. “That means you have zero attention on your fraud feelings, which means they practically disappear.” 

Negative thoughts about your abilities aren’t able to affect you when you’re engaged with others. You’ll be too busy to notice the inner critic, and it will have no choice but to clear out. 

When facing imposter syndrome, one of my biggest mistakes was giving these thoughts credit. I’ve come to realize just because those negative words are there, doesn’t mean they’re true. You don’t actually have to engage or try to ‘figure them out.’ Self-doubt is part of being human, but we don’t have to let it take the wheel. Go deeper, and listen to that heroic voice. She always knows what to do.

Juneteenth 2021


Many people are unaware of what Juneteenth commemorates. Historically, the Fourth of July marked the beginning of freedom people in the United States. This was not the reality for enslaved people in Texas. It took two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation for the news to reach Galveston Texas. On June 19th, 1865, enslaved people in Texas finally received their freedom. 

Tuesday, the Senate unanimously passed a bill that would make Juneteenth a federal holiday. Acknowledging the wrongs our country has made throughout history while creating a space to honor those who tirelessly fight for equity. We should not become complacent with Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday. There is more work to be done to address the inequities within our country. 

This weekend the Lansing area has different events to celebrate the freedom of enslaved people in our country. These events tell the truth of our history while creating a space for people to gather and reflect on the continual barriers people of color face in our country. 

Saturday June 19, 2021

  • Juneteenth Festival (517)
    • 4 to 10 pm 
    • Reo Town Pub, South Washington Ave, Lansing MI
  • Lansing Juneteenth Celebration 
    • 9 to 9 pm 
    • Alfreda Schmidt Southside Community Center
  • Juneteenth Celebration and Parade 
    • 11 am
    • Alfreda Schmidt Southside Community Center

Sunday June 20, 2021

  • Jazz and Poetry Night 
    • 7 to 11 pm 
    • UrbanBeat, 1213 Turner Rd, Lansing MI

— Emily Wegenke, MSW Intern

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