Courtesy of Paddle for Cancer.

Courtesy of Paddle for Cancer.

The Paddle for Cancer Dragonboat Festival, held once a year in the Lac de Joux region is coming soon on Sunday, August 31. First launched in 2007 by the English Speaking Cancer Association, esca, this event draws over two thousand participants and spectators.

The idea of using dragonboat races to promote cancer awareness was pioneered by Canadian doctor, Dr. McKenzie. He used this kind of event along with the traditional Asian vessels to disprove the then-prevalent theory that women with breast cancer should not exercise their arms. He wanted survivors of breast cancer to join together in order to paddle for health and social wellbeing.

Now similar events are organized across the globe.

The race

Courtesy of Paddle for Cancer.

The rules of Paddle for Cancer require all teams to have a minimum of four women. There are several competitions: the corporate team races (where my husband will be paddling), open teams (in which me, my kids and their friend will be rowing on the AIWC sponsored boat), all-female teams (including a team of breast cancer survivors) and the free junior-regatta teams.

AIWC dragonboat Team

The Paddle for Cancer Festival is a family-fun event filled with laughter, comradery, costumes, face-painting and bouncy castles. There are food and drink stands and a silent auction. The AIWC, along with the American International Club and other volunteers, will be co-sponsoring a baked goods table.

All money raised from this popular event goes toward esca, a not-for-profit organization covering Geneva, Vaud and neighboring France. They provide emotional support, practical help and information in English to cancer patients, their families and friends. Their services include:

  • A drop-in center with extensive library of relevant cancer documentation.
  • Professional counseling services.
  • Training and supervising volunteers that assist families.
  • Organizing special cancer-awareness and family related events.
Courtesy of Paddle for Cancer.

Courtesy of Paddle for Cancer.

For more information about the location and times, visit Paddle for Cancer. If you would like to know more about the English Speaking Cancer Association visit esca.

We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland.  If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at