Diagnosed with infiltrating ductal carcinoma in 2005, resulted in a double mastectomy, six rounds of chemo and brought her to the best thing in her life. In 2007, I was instrumental in founding and serving as President/Captain of Miami’s first breast cancer survivor dragon boat racing team, Save Our Sisters (SOS). I led the team to many victories in and out of South Florida and all over the world, with awareness and recovery from breast cancer. Speaking engagements at the local high schools and colleges are among the teams favorite projects, as well as participation in local festivals, fairs and parades. SOS leads by example, encouraging women to exercise regularly, follow proper nutritional guidelines and to get their annual mammograms.
Although, the breast cancer diagnosis and treatment was the worst year of my life (2005), it led me to one of the best and most important times of my life. Aside from SOS, I work full time on developing new teams, both in Florida and around the world and helping organize the quadrennial events with the International Breast Cancer Paddlers’ Commission.
Breast cancer has taught me how blessed I truly am, how strong and how best I can use my talents and tenacity to help breast cancer survivors to live full, purposeful and active lives.
Kim is happily married for over 28 years, with a 25 year old son.
Pink Paddles Up!
A survivor since 2006, I have been an active member of team SOS since its inception in 2007. I am more than just a “survivor.” I have much better titles that I am proud to wear. I am a lawyer, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a sister, a daughter, and a friend among other things…
Breast cancer in my eyes was a major inconvenience! But it brought me to SOS…I am so passionate about the team and its mission. I have been bitten by the dragon and I’m having the ride of my life!
You see it was just a matter of time for me until I heard the words, “You have cancer.” Three of my four sisters had already fought the breast cancer battle, so when the doctor called me and told me I had cancer it was no surprise. My surprise was when one of my twin daughters called less than two months after my surgery and told me she had a lump. That just shouldn’t happen, what kind of cruel joke was this?
Dealing with my bi-lateral mastectomy was a piece of cake compared to being the parent of a cancer patient. Jump forward, just nine short months, and my other twin daughter calls to tell me the exact same news! How am I supposed to deal with this? What should I be doing to help? How do I know when to step in? What should they expect? How serious is this? Will they need someone to stay with them? Do I offer money, food, air fare? Do they even want my help?
Then one day I was casually handed a post card at my surgeon’s office and knew SOS was the place I needed. These women asked me about me, my journey, my challenges, if I needed help. They accepted me exactly how I was. They had all the answers to my questions. They were survivors and had sadly been caregivers themselves. The experiences and wisdom of my “SOSters” was invaluable. They helped me find “comfortable” again with myself and my family.
Welcome to Save Our Sisters, the place where being YOU is celebrated in all the right ways.
I was blessed to be one of the original SOS team members! After a difficult diagnosis process, I was eventually diagnosed with DCIS, non-invasive, in April 2006. I had what they called ‘shotgun distribution’ (small cells throughout the breast), so the biopsies/lumpectomies were unable to get clear margins. Finally, in October of 2006, I had a bilateral mastectomy with tram flap reconstruction. Because the cancer was caught so early, coupled with the fact that I had a bilateral mastectomy, I did not have to have chemo, radiation or tamoxifen. All of my BC care has been through the Memorial Healthcare System in Hollywood, FL; Dr. Jonathan Weiser at Physician’s Institute was my plastic surgeon.
My tenure on SOS has meant everything to me. I am known as idea girl. One of my greatest contributions was the birth of Professional Day, among other team activities. As a member of the Board of Directors., I am able to make contributions.
I am married to John and have two daughters (Johanna and Lissi), a son (Christian) and two precious grandkids (Aria and Damian)! I work as a Senior Associate for Global Services for the CPA Firm Crowe, LLP in Miami.
Married to Alan for 44 years – 3 children, Alyson, Alan Jr. and Christopher; 4 Grandchildren, Nate, Matthew, Alexa and Juliana. Diagnosed with breast cancer: July 4th, 2002. Treatment: 6 months of chemo, followed by a mastectomy, another 6 months of chemo and finally radiation. Treatment was followed by the other breast removal and a tram flap. My family has been my rock supporting me every step of the way and still continue to do so. I think of my cancer as a bump in the road that put things into proper prospective for me. Since I have become a SOSter I have never been in such good shape…mentally and physically. Made the 2015 USA World Dragon Boat team. The international competition was held in Welland, Ontario, Canada. The positive attitude, camaraderie and support amongst our SOSters is amazing. I am proud and honored to belong to such a team.
My name is Hope, I was diagnosed 16 years ago with stage one breast cancer. My treatment regime was chemo followed by radiation. One day at a cocktail party an acquaintance mentioned going out with a dragon boat team. My initial thought was one of hesitation, but she insisted I give it a go, and offered to pick me up. The next morning she was in her jeep outside of my house, and I have never looked back, I have been on the team for 10 years now, and it has been a life changer. Lots of new connections, and the comradeship has been great. We are from all walks of life, all of us striving to get out of ourselves, and appreciate physical fun in a team water sport.
Come join us!
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2011 at the age of 48. I am married with 2 kids. I was devastated. I could not bring myself to even say the “C” word. I would tell others that I found something in my breast and that it was not good but I could not bear to say the word. I learned to confront the “Cancer” emotionally and physically. My treatment included chemo and radiation. I give all the credit to God for my strength and healing. I attended an all-day breast cancer event in May 2012 and heard a presentation from the SOS members. Their enthusiasm was captivating and made me want to join. SOS is exactly the boost I needed to improve my physical health and to be part of an inspiring and supportive group. I feel blessed to have my family and friends and to be among other survivors. As a new paddler, I look forward to practices each week and enjoy spending time with these women who have so much passion, not only for racing, but for life!
Dr. Gerri Emkey
I joined Save Our Sisters in 2012. I was very depressed after finding out I had breast cancer. At first when I was diagnosed with breast cancer I went to a support group called Bosom Buddies. In this support group some of the members belonged to a Dragon Boat Racing Team called Save Our Sisters. All the members are breast cancer survivors.
I decided to check out this team called Save Our Sisters. It was love at first site. I love being on the water and paddling. The sport is very challenging to me because I want to be the best I can be at it.
Ever since I joined Save Our Sisters I have been so very happy. It’s terrible to say but since I had breast cancer my life seemed to have gotten so much better for several reasons. It seems like a new door opened up to me. I have never belonged to a team before and we travel to compete all around the world. I seriously have never had so much fun. I love this group very much. I feel like I learned how to be around other women and I can be myself.
I’m Elaine Mora, diagnosed in March 2012 with DCIS. In April I chose to have a double mastectomy with reconstruction. I was in disbelief and not sure what was next. I started looking for a release and found this dragonboat team. I was never an athletic person, never even wanted to sweat. But here I am today, sweating and working with a team of women to win the gold medals. I have made many friends and now serve as a board member. My husband and 3 daughters cannot believe I have come this far but they are my biggest fans. This has been a very helpful tool to get past all of this and to help others through this terrible life event and know there is a team that awaits them.
I’m a 23 year breast cancer survivor, of a lumpectomy and lymph nodes removed in 1994, then 40 radiation treatments. As a “seasoned” survivor, I’m not old, just “seasoned” it may be a little more difficult for me to paddle, however, I love SOS because of the fellowship, fun, and support. I learned of SOS from my church friend Rosalie, who had been going for a few years.
I’m a Zookeeper at Zoo Miami, which is a career I desired when I was a young teen. I volunteered at the zoo in 1996 and after my husband died in 2002 there was a position open in the Aviary, I applied and the rest is history. I’m an active member of AAZK, zookeepers association; and
also volunteer with thisisthedog.com a rescue/foster organization in Homestead. I have four dogs who are my home family.
George and I did not have children together, however, I inherited a great group children and grandchildren scattered in Florida, Texas and Virginia. A Godchild 23, lives in Homestead, who is a joy.
Niní is my nickname, my real name is María Carmen. I was born in Cuba in 1940, which makes me one of the oldest in the team. I am a retired psychologist. My husband Antonio and I have three children and three granddaughters. Antonio and I love to travel. I am also an avid book reader.
In 1985, I felt a lump in my breast. The tissue was unusual and, after they couldn’t diagnose it here, it was sent to Bethesda Hospital to get their opinion. The whole thing took two anxiety-filled months. The results from Bethesda, and from a friend in Texas, who is also a specialist, were that it was not cancerous. However, six months later, in 1986, I had another lump, diagnosed as breast cancer. My right breast was removed. It was hard for me because I have always been the strong one, and did not allow myself to really mourn. I wanted to protect my family, in particular my youngest daughter, then 5 years old. It took me a few weeks to finally have a good cry. At that time, aggressive treatments were not the norm, so I had no chemo or radiation. Now, I feel great and thankful to God for my health.
I did not have any support group when I needed it. In 2008, I read about SOS and since then, I am part of it. I enjoy the camaraderie and the exercise, and nobody cares about my age. I thank Kim and the group for welcoming me with open arms.
Connie is a Secretary who married her husband Harold in 2019. They have 5 children – a daughter, Ann, and four sons, Harold, Michael, John, and Brian. Connie loves doing crafts, dragon boat racing and hanging with her survivor sisters in Save Our Sisters.
During self-exam in June 2013, Connie discovered a lump in her right breast, which was subsequently diagnosed as DCIS. She underwent a lateral mastectomy in July 2013, followed by a year of chemotherapy. She has reconstructive surgery in February 2014. There is no history of breast cancer in her family. Connie says having survived breast cancer has made her a more outgoing person.
She appreciates everything in life even more and doesn’t take a single day for granted. She attributes her recovery to the support she received from her wonderful family, friends, and co-workers, but especially her faith in God. Connie says life may be unpredictable but she is not going to let this cancer define who she is. She says to live, love, and laugh.
SOS es vida, bendecida cada vez que remo junto a mis hermanas con el mismo objetivo, darlo todo hasta la puesta del sol.
Me encanta remar con SOS, no solo por el ejercicio, pero más aun, por las amistades de hermandad que formamos en el grupo.
Ser parte de TeamSOSMiami ha sido una experiencia única. Le ha aportado grandes cosas a mi vida: amistad, solidaridad, crecimiento mental y emocional.
Para mí el dragón boat significa vida después de haber estado en un lugar oscuro por mi enfermedad. No lo cambiaria por nada. Me gusta estar con mis amigas, el mar, saber que soy fuerte para competir.