continued In 2009, the team raised enough money to buy a dragon boat of its own and now it paddles on the Hudson River in Cohoes a couple nights a week.
“I love the people, I love the women, it’s a support system,” said Barbara Neiman, a Hope in the Boat member since 2008 and membership chairperson for the team.
Neiman, diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001, said she was thrilled when she saw Allegretti-Freeman’s call for team members.
“I probably knew a little bit more about the sport than most people in the area because my sister, also a survivor, had been involved with dragon boating in Philadelphia,” said Neiman.
As an aerobic instructor since 1989, remaining physically fit was important to Neiman and she wanted to help other women improve and maintain their health.
“It was much easier for me to get through my treatment being that I was already physically fit,” said Neiman. “This was just one more opportunity for me to do something physical and help other women to see the benefits of physical activity.”
Women don’t have to be exercise fanatics to fit in, said Allegretti-Freeman. After a few months of dragon boating, though, that might become the case.
“We have committed ourselves to year-round exercise,” said Allegretti-Freeman. “There are women on the team who weren’t athletic to begin with and decided to stay fit throughout the year.”
There’re more to dragon boating than a full body workout, though.
“There’s a healing aspect about being on the water. We have a really good coach, relax on the Hudson, it’s a quiet section with eagles in the trees,” said Allegretti-Freeman.
For Neiman, too, the “camaraderie” has proven to be just as beneficial as the exercise.
“We have a shared mission to bring about awareness … of what survivors are capable of doing,” said Neiman.
The team meets monthly off the water for discussion and team building activities.
Hope in the Boat will hold an orientation program on Wednesday, May 2, at 6 p.m. at Hope Club in Latham. The team is always looking for new members and Allegretti-Freeman encourages local breast cancer survivors to check it out.
“There are a lot of really nice people, supportive, we’ve all been through a very similar experience,” said Neiman.
To RSVP for the orientation, visit www.hopeintheboat.org or call Allegretti-Freeman at 765-2307.