The International Breast Cancer Paddler’s Commission or IBCPC as it is often
referred to is an Associate Organisation of the International Dragon Boat Federation
(IDBF) and sits on the IDBF Council.

IBCPC Mission:
To encourage the establishment of breast cancer dragon boat teams, within the
framework of participation and inclusiveness. We support the development of
recreational dragon boat paddling as a contribution to a healthy lifestyle for those
diagnosed with breast cancer.

WHY BREAST CANCER? WHY DRAGON BOATS? Until recently, and still in many
countries, people treated for breast cancer are advised not to do any upper body
repetitive exercise for fear of contracting the painful, debilitating condition,
Lymphedema. (Lymphedema is swelling due to build-up of lymph fluid in the body.
Lymph nodes act like a drain in your sink. If the drain is clogged, the fluid cannot
drain. It usually happens in the arms or legs, but can occur in other parts of the

In 1996, Dr. Don McKenzie, a professor in the Department of Sports Medicine at the
University of British Colombia, Vancouver, Canada, and an exercise physiologist
challenged the prevailing medical thinking that woman treated for breast cancer
should avoid rigorous upper body exercise for fear of developing Lymphedema.
Dr. McKenzie developed a program to determine the impact of exercise on breast
cancer survivors choosing dragon boat paddling as the epitome of strenuous
repetitive upper body exercise. Paddlers do not have to paddle hard; they just must
paddle together. To his delight, as well as the paddlers, no one got Lymphedema.
Once his programme was finished these ladies decided to continue with the dragon
boat paddling as the women found they were fitter, healthier and happier, they loved
the camaraderie and support of the fellow paddlers and regained control of their

This was the first chapter in what has become an international movement. The
IBCPC is recognized globally as the leader in support of those diagnosed with breast
cancer to gain a healthy lifestyle through participation in dragon boating. Fast
forward to December 2022 and there are now over 300 IBCPC member teams,
across 37 countries and six continents with approximately 15,000 individual
paddlers. The IBCPC also hold their own participatory festivals every four years with
attendance now in excess of 3000+ paddlers.

Breast cancer dragon boat paddling helps to create greater awareness of this
disease, especially as incidents of breast cancer around the world are of a growing
concern. In addition, breast cancer paddlers communities become a visual
representation that sends a strong and hopeful message that there is life after a
diagnosis of breast cancer. Most importantly their presence encourages the local
medical community to reach out to both men and women, making the screening
process easier and more readily available.

Submitted by Meri Gibson, Global President, IBCPC