November 01, 2014 09:35 UTC

American Mosaic

Cancer Survivors Share Sisterhood and Support on Dragon Boat Race Teams

In addition to weekly practices, Go Pink! DC races against other breast cancer survivor teams in dragon boat festivals.
In addition to weekly practices, Go Pink! DC races against other breast cancer survivor teams in dragon boat festivals.

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story
  • Cancer Survivors Share Sisterhood and Support on Dragon Boat Race Teams

Documents

Welcome to American Mosaic from VOA Learning English.
 
I’m Faith Lapidus.
 
On the show today, we play music from Queens of the Stone Age.
 
We also go to Los Angeles, to see how and why its growing its green spaces.
 
But first, we visit with a team of dragon boat racers in Washington, DC.
 
Dragon Boat Racers
 
Dragon boating is a team sport that has its roots in ancient China. The boats are decorated with a dragon head and tail. In recent years, cancer survivor groups have gotten involved in the sport to help make friends and help rebuild their lives. Avi Arditti has our story.
 
On a Saturday morning, a group of 20 women were on a boat in the Anacostia River in Washington, DC. They move their paddles in rhythm to the call of a coach. The women belong to the dragon boat race team Go Pink! DC. Lydia Collins joined five years ago after finding out she had breast cancer.
 
“I love the team spirit, I just love everything about it. It is like a floating support group on the water.”
 
The paddlers are breast cancer survivors and their supporters. Annette Rothemel helped establish the group in 2006. She is a researcher with the National Institutes of Health as well as a breast cancer survivor.
 
“It is sort of an easy entry sport because in the same boat people at different levels can be doing the same sport.”
 
But Ms. Rothemel says dragon boating can be physically demanding, especially for someone who is sick and getting treatment for cancer. Rhonda Hartzel receives chemotherapy drugs every three weeks.
 
“It's hard but I think you have to challenge yourself in life. This is something I look forward to. I get to be out here with my sisters and supporters and they understand what I am going through and they help motivate me. So it makes me stronger and it makes me feel better.”
 
Dragon boating began about 2,000 years ago in China. The modern form of racing started in the 1970s. Since then, it has become a fast-growing international competitive sport. Breast cancer survivor teams have competed around the world.
 
“I am sure it is in the multiples of hundreds. That must be three hundred, four hundred teams around the world.”
 
Lydia Collins says there is a healthful result from the sport.
 
“When I’m paddling, it helps with my lymphedema, which is swelling of the lymphatic fluid. When you have a mastectomy, sometimes you wind up with this condition.”
 
Go Pink! DC trains weekly. It also races against other breast cancer survivor teams in dragon boat festivals. A pink carnation ceremony takes place at each event to honor those who have died from cancer.
 
“Unfortunately that is a sad part of having a team of breast cancer survivors. One passed away several years ago and another one this past January. She had been with us for a year.”
 
At a recent Washington dragon boat festival, Go Pink! DC won medals.
 
“We earned two silver medals, one in the 250 meter and one in the 500 meter [race].”
 
Annette Rothemel says the cancer survivors feel a sense of sisterhood and share good times when they paddle together. She says both feelings are treasured by the team.
 
Urban Parks
 
Public parks are important to city life, but green spaces and play areas are rare in many cities. In Los Angeles, several organizations and some volunteers are trying to change that.
 
At the Environmental Charter Middle School in the Los Angeles community of Gardena, several hundred volunteers recently built a play area. They sanded down benches, set up equipment like swings and slides, and added green plants, like shrubs and bushes.
 
Parent Jennifer Briseno says outdoor spaces are important.
 
 “Everyone needs a place to play, no matter how old they are.”
 
School leader Kami Cotler says outdoor play gives kids get a chance to connect with the world.
 
“They don't have those opportunities to play with sticks in the mud, and to learn the really powerful lessons you learn when you get to do that.”
 
The remodeled Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has also taken learning experiences outdoors. Exhibits now show insects, birds and reptiles in their natural environment. The new green space is a former parking lot. It represents a new direction for the museum, says landscape architect Mia Lehrer.
 
“You can enjoy the gardens, but also learn something, if you are inspired to.”
 
A study by the non-profit Trust for Public Land says Los Angeles is far behind such cities as Minneapolis, New York and San Francisco, in public park space. The group's Jodi Delaney agrees that outdoor spaces are important, especially for children.
 
 “Many of them spend one percent of their time in parks, and 27 percent of their time watching television.”
 
She says parks are also important for adults, places where they can find calm, do exercise and get in touch with nature.
 
She says Los Angeles ranked 34th in the national study of cities and their parks. The study ranked 50 cities by such things as level of investment, size of parks and the availability of parks in all neighborhoods.
 
“Where we could do better is a little bit on access, and the Trust for Public Land is actually working shoulder to shoulder with city and county officials to improve that.”
 
An aid group called KaBOOM! built this school playground in the city of Gardena. The charity has built hundreds of other playgrounds around the United States.  
 
Getting the community involved seems to be making a difference. Vaughn Sigmon is with CarMax, a seller of used cars. He brought 170 volunteers from his company. His company and its workers have promised to build a total of 30 playgrounds.
 
 “It's the best place to go make friends, get fresh air, get some exercise.”
 
Queens of the Stone Age
 
The rock band Queens of the Stone Age has been making music for fifteen years.  But the group’s newest album, “...Like Clockwork,” is its first recording to reach the top of the American record charts. “...Like Clockwork” is the band’s sixth album and was six years in the making. VOA Learning English intern Madeline Smith plays some of the new songs.
 
Queens of the Stone Age dealt with many problems and delays producing the album. The lead singer, Josh Homme, had some serious health problems. He also dismissed drummer Joey Castillo, who had been with the band for ten years. Foo Fighters leader Dave Grohl filled in temporarily.
 
“...Like Clockwork” includes other famous guest appearances, including pop star Elton John. Some people were surprised he agreed to work with Queens of the Stone Age because his musical style is very different. He performs on the song “Fairweather Friends.”
 
Critics are praising “...Like Clockwork.” Several reviews note Josh Homme’s mysterious lyrics and strong singing voice. And, fans are happy just to have something new from Queens of the Stone Age after years of silence.
 
We leave you with Queens of the Stone Age performing “My God is the Sun,” the first single from “...Like Clockwork.”
 
I’m Faith Lapidus. Our program was written by June Simms, Madeline Smith and Caty Weaver. Madeline Smith and Caty Weaver were the producers. Mike O’Sullivan and June Soh provided additional reporting.
 
Do you have a question about American life, people or places? Send an e-mail to mosaic@voanews.com. We might answer your question in a future show. You can also visit our website at learningenglish.voanews.com to find transcripts and audio of our shows.
 
Join us again next week for music and more on American Mosaic from VOA Learning English.



This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: BIJU.P.Y. from: SOUTH INDIA
06/24/2013 4:14 PM
Dragon boating is the best support exercises provided to cancer survivors in the U.S. It gives them acceleration to go on in life. The enjoyment they get from boat racing enhances their confidence and boost up their imagination. Also, parks are important refuge for city inhabitants and they play a vital role in maintaining the health of city inhabitants. Madeline smith's voice is really ear pleasing. It can take hold of one's soul. Thank you.


by: Tony
06/21/2013 9:06 AM
Madeline Smith, you have a good voice, so don't to be nervous and continue reading for us lots of good stories.

Learn with The News

  • FILE - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, right, walks past Chinese President Xi Jinping as they arrive to the Monument to the People's Heroes during a ceremony marking Martyr’s Day at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, Sept. 30, 2014.

    Audio China’s Constitution Receives New Attention

    The constitution took effect in the early 1980s, when the Communist Party was opening up the country economically. Now China is at a new crossroads. Observers say it is reaching for a new economic growth model. Chinese officials will promise to defend its rules when they take office. | In The News More

  • Video More US Hispanic Women Convert to Islam

    Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. The Pew Research Center says about six percent of American Muslims are Latino. And women make up a little more than half of the new converts -- the people who have changed their religion to Islam. More

  • This image released by USCIS shows a sample of the front of the redesigned green card carried by foreign-born residents living permanently in the U.S. The Homeland Security Department is issuing the redesigned "green card" that is stacked with safety feat

    Audio US 'Green Card Lottery' Ending November 3

    State Department’s Diversity Visa program closes November 3rd. Millions of people have entered the program, hoping to win a visa. But only 50,000 are chosen. 5,000 more are available under the Nicaraguan and Central America Relief Act. The green card lottery closes on Monday. | As It Is More

  • A convoy of peshmerga vehicles is escorted by Turkish Kurds on their way to the Turkish-Syrian border, in Kiziltepe near the southeastern city of Mardin October 29, 2014

    Audio Iraqi Kurdish Fighters Enter Kobani

    Also in the news, Burkina Faso ends efforts to extend its presidential term limit after protests in the capital. Ukraine says the EU will be guarantor in any gas deal with Russia. Myanmar holds a major meeting Friday. And claims of cheating delay SAT results for South Korean and Chinese students. More

  • Video Singapore Film Ban Raises Free Speech Issue

    The documentary film, “To Singapore, with Love” tells about political dissidents from Singapore. The film has been shown at public events in Britain, India and Malaysia, among other countries. But one place the movie cannot be seen is Singapore. That is because the government there has banned it. More

Featured Stories

  • Obama Halloween

    Audio Halloween Is Big with Kids and Business

    The National Retail Federation says sales of Halloween goods will total about $7.4 billion this year. It says the average American will spend about $77. The group expects 162 million people to celebrate. The NRF predicts 54 million of them will hold Halloween parties. | American Mosaic More

  • A print shows the Second Battle of Bull Run, also called Second Manassas.

    Audio South Defeats North Again at Manassas

    Lincoln named George Pope to lead the Army of Virginia. He wanted to join Pope’s forces with the Army of the Potomac and break through Confederate defenses around Richmond. But General Robert E. Lee decided to hit Pope first. More

  • Star House

    Video Home of Last Comanche Chief Close to Ruins

    One of the most interesting people in U.S. history is Quanah Parker, the last chief of the country’s Comanche Indian tribe. Quanah Parker was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Quanah Parker was a fierce fighter. More

  • FILE - A veterinarian at the nonprofit Bali Animal Welfare Association gives a rabies shot to a puppy in Kebon Kaja village, Bangli Regency in Bali, Indonesia.

    Audio Mass Vaccination of Dogs Can Eliminate Rabies

    About 70,000 people worldwide die every year of rabies. Rabies is a viral infection that people get mainly through dog bites. Scientists say vaccinating dogs can effectively get rid of rabies outbreaks in dog populations. And this will have a domino effect, fewer humans with rabies. More

  • Methane oxidizing

    Photogallery Small Organisms in Deep Sea Rocks Eat Methane

    The gas methane has been linked to rising temperatures on Earth. But methane does not stay in the atmosphere as long as another “greenhouse gas” -- carbon dioxide. Scientists say both gases trap heat from the sun. They prevent heat from escaping into outer space. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs