breast cancer survivor


I had a mastectomy just one week ago. i am a VERY active sea kayaker and do some heavy duty paddling in big tides and currents. I am looking for advice about a new paddle, helpful gear, exercises, etc. …any kind of advice to help me get back in my boat. I know I must start slow and easy and not “push the envelope” but am anxious to get back at it asap.


Good on ya’
Tough road - but it sure sounds like you are up to it.

I have no personal experience to offer here, but I thought that it might help others who can if they had a sense of your current equipment. F’r example, if you already are using a Signature Epic paddle it’d be silly to suggest just that you get a lighter paddle.

No advice from me.
But glad to hear you’re clear anyway. My bout w/ cancer was young and over quickly. I had little to complain about compared to most. My wife and I just lost a long friend in her early forties w/ 4 kids to a long fight w/ breast cancer. It’s good to hear from those w/ better outcomes.


I too am a cancer survivor and a kayaker. I started back by doing some weight lifting with 10 pound weights and walking 5 times a week. It is slow but before you know it you are back on the water! Also eat whatever the doctors say you should.


Can’t Really Advise…
…re the best strategy for getting back to kayaking ASAP, but I can sure tell you it’s been done. We occasionally paddle with a lady - and I use that word in all it’s meanings - who’s a breast cancer survivor, and she’s always one of the first to reply when anyone posts a request for folks interested in a paddle, workshop, clinic, etc. She’s absolutely tireless on the water, and seems to take a deeper and keener enjoyment from it all than most of us do. So good to see her out there…

You will do fine
but go slowly. Obviously consult your doctor. I had my left kidney removed for cancer in 2005 and returned to the boats 6 weeks later. After surgery, I felt elation at being able to walk down the hall. I paddle every other day. Also hike and dive. Every day is important.


maybe a narrow bladed paddle
Will make your stroke easier. But you’re halfway there already. Kudos to you for a great attitude and hang in there.

My crazy aunt was playing in surf less than a year after recovering from ovarian cancer.

good luck, Tess
great to hear you’re back and doing okay

with paddling, it’s nice to have something to look forward to

Lifting weight, walking/jogging, riding a bike, swimming, rowing machine, and stretching/ flexibility exercises to enhance range of motion all as you can tolerate and as your caregivers will approve. Exercise provides the quickest track to getting back to baseline. A visit with a physical therapist, or a trainer, would be helpful in a program that accommodates your specific needs. I did a triathlon after my episode . . . to confirm the healing process. I wish you well in your recovery. Gail

Best wishes
I was back in a kayak 5 weeks after cancer surgery and paddled when I could during chemo. I’m now 5 years into remission and, while I didn’t have breast cancer, my advice is take it easy initially, but do as much as you feel comfortable with.

Paddling kept me sane, especially when I was scared and felt like hell. I’d get into my boat, a baseball cap covering my bald head, and I’d feel so strong and empowered, even if I could really only paddle small distances. It was a great opportunity for me to work on my strokes and really learn my boat.

Best wishes to you. No matter what kind of cancer we have, we are all in the same boat – or kayak – together.

I had breast cancer in 1999. Do what feels right, with your doc’s approval, and you’ll be back in full swing in no time. :slight_smile:


Good for you Tess. Go get 'em!

Best wishes from another survivor
Tess - you have my very best wishes. I had a mastectomy in 1991 followed by reconstruction a year later. Have been cancer-free since then. My determination was to transform the experience into a source of growth and strength, and 17 years later, I’m still on the adventure.

Walking was the physical activity that got me through that time. I even walked to the hospital for my surgeries, and to and from chemo. Walking can give you a base level of fitness to which you can gradually add activities. Plus there’s just something about the rhythm and movement of walking that’s healing mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Please feel free to email me, and I’d be happy to talk to you by phone also.



I wonder if shopping for a comfortable pfd might be important too? This might be a case where an inflatable would be a good choice, if standard pfds rub on your scar tissue.

6 weeks after major abdominal surgery (for suspected cancer, but I was lucky), I was kayaking again, a few times a week. I switched to a greenland paddle, and most importantly, I had friends carry the boat to the water for me, so I wouldn’t stress my recovering muscles or 12 " incision (or stress my surgeon, for that matter). And I didn’t roll for a couple of weeks. Paddling helped me heal a lot faster. Good luck!

My wife had breat cancer
surgery last spring. The chemo treatments were the worst part. She’d be really drained of energy for three or four days, and little stamina between. She’s back in her boat this year, and doing great! Keep the faith, you’ll do fine!


swimming pool
slow very very slow and easy strokes and build up over time…maybe even start floating on the back and with one arm extended moving the other.

Good For You!
Can’t give you advice on the mastectomy part, but just slowly work your way back to your previous level of exercise. And here’s a few words of encouragement; in 1980 I had stage IV Hodgkins and my prognosis was poor to see the age of 21. After a year of chemo and radiation, I proved them wrong; I’m now 47. My hopes and prayers are for your continued recovery! WW