The association supports women with breast cancer by offering them an original sporting activity: the dragon boat, in particular to improve shoulder mobility. Whether cured, in remission or in treatment, their goal is the same: to fight illness, depression and isolation through sport.
THE INTERVIEW WITH CLOTHILDE, PASCALE AND MICHÈLE
Cristal Spa (CS): Hello Clothilde, first of all, thank you for giving us time to discuss the association. Can you tell us a little more about yourself?
Clothilde Decarmin: So, I am Clothilde Decarmin President of the Association, accompanied by Pascale Darson, the former president and now vice-president and Michèle Peillon, our treasurer. If I joined the association it was simply because I was sick! The three of us have been so, and for my part on two occasions, in 2008 and in 2017. Personally, I waited until the chemotherapies were finished to start the dragon boat and when I felt in good shape, I went paddling!
CS: Tell us a bit about Drôles de Rames, how did the idea come about? What actions are you taking? Are women who are sick or in remission coming to you?
Drôles de Rames (DDR): The idea came from a 2011 report on Thalassa, Reims was the 1st French team to ride the dragon boat. With Lake Annecy, the idea sprouted and the former president went to the CKCA club to see if it was possible to make just a ladies' team. They started right away and we started our association in early 2012 with only women who had or had cancer or breast disease but who were able to paddle. The goal is obviously to organize meetings between sick women but above all to play sports after cancer. We have everything, women still in care, others a little further from treatment and some even completely healed!
CS: Is this a recommended physicila activity for these women? Isn't that dangerous?
DDR: No precisely! We wanted to demonstrate that the act of paddling drains our somewhat “handicapped” and weakened arm. The advantage of sport is that it avoids the risk of recurrence by 25% when you practice regularly for about 2 hours / week. It was a Canadian who proved that, a chiropractor who was revolted that these women were immobilized rather than helping them recover through sports activity to prevent them from relapsing into the disease.
In fact, you have to listen to yourself because there are several profiles, do not force too much because you still have scars etc. It is advisable to stay on the move in any chronic illness so necessarily if you are in the middle of chemo and you are weak you do not do it but once it gets better, you start paddling again. The advantage of the dragon boat is also there: since there are 20 of us paddling, if one of us gets a little tired she can let go and the others are there to keep moving the boat forward! There is a real spirit of solidarity.
CS: Do you talk a lot about the disease?
DDR: Well not that much. Precisely when a woman stops and says to herself "ah, it hurts there" she realizes that she is not alone and that it is normal. When we practice sport we take the opportunity to forget a bit, to get away from it all. Obviously, from time to time we keep abreast of our condition, we wonder about the different treatments, the side effects. During Pink October, we talk about it more than the rest of the year. In fact, we listen to each other and chat when we feel like it.
CS: Who can come to Drôles de Rames? You seem to be in the Annecy area a lot.
DDR : Yes, of course, we are very much in the area, but we also have Faverges and a few women from the Arve valley with La-Roche-Sur-Foron. That said, we accept all people who are able to paddle Wednesday evening from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. or Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. regardless of their location.
What is special about us is that by joining the Drôles de Rames, we pay a license allowing us to have access to the dragon boat but also to other club activities (kayaking, paddle boarding, etc.); which means that we also have a mix (men or women who have not been sick) so it's nice because it educates them and in addition they exchange. Sometimes we make a boat made up only of women for those who feel the need, but we also mix together so it's less stigmatizing. We have a particular configuration where Les Drôles de Rames represents a section of the club.
CS: I could see on your Facebook page that you have a pretty full schedule, between tranings, meetings, competitions and more. How do you find the partners?
DDR: We are the 2nd dragon boat team in France after Reims, which means that we are in great demand from rising clubs. We enjoy a good reputation because we were one of the "pioneers". We are well supported by the hospitals because the doctors trust us and that is an excellent point. Sick women see their doctors and nurses in a different position, they encourage them to be active, to regroup thanks to informative flyers.
With the Covid, a small drop in attendance was felt because some do not have the sanitary pass, others are more cautious. Lockdown has also changed our habits so there are some who are more reluctant. Fortunately, as we are followed by many town halls on the events (Villard, Faverges, Cruseilles…) it comes back.
In fact, it is almost a given today, because being well referenced we come easily to us. We took part in a sports conference which brought us a lot of notoriety in 2015. Many doctors from Lyon came to give conferences and discovery workshops. Each of us also has her oncologist, her doctor to whom she gives the Drôles de Dames leaflet and the 3C (Cancer Coordination Center) organization lists everything that is done in oncology. We know well those of the CHAL (Center Hospitalier Alpes Léman) and also those of the private clinics. Michèle, accompanied by a social worker from the association, often watches over hospitals.
CS: And how many are you in the association, in the team? I imagine that it takes a few people to organize community life.
DDR: We must have been around 40 at the base but because of the Covid much less. We are about twenty active members and in the offices, 7! Michèle, treasurer, a secretary and active members who help us with events, management of social networks etc. Each has its own network and activity.
CS: Are the women coming to the Drôles de Rames just passing through or do they stay and become real friends?
DDR: Well that's pretty stable. We have had a few departures following the Covid, many have moved, necessarily to be larger or cheaper, to another region. So we lost some pretty active members but honestly that balances out pretty well with new ones coming in. We still have a hard core that has been there for a long time.
CS: What do you think you can bring to sick women with the association? What are their feedbacks?
DDR: There is the idea of being together because many women feel isolated. So when they come they meet other people who are in the same situation or who have come out of it, it is empowering. We say to ourselves "ah, I will recover too, it will be fine". The apprehension of the disease turns into the hope of a cure and that is what is beautiful in the end.
CS: Pink October is an important time for the association, do you think this annual campaign is useful?
DDR: We have the impression that people are already aware enough about screening. Regarding the fact of moving after illness, it is a little less democratized in France. Personally (Clothilde), I do not come from this region and I find that the people here are of a more sporty nature, necessarily with the framework we have a big culture of the outdoors. We have that advantage here because people are used to enjoying the outdoors and moving around, which helps with mentalities.
The event is important of course because it is the 1st cancer for women, but we are still careful. There has been a big commercial recovery in recent years and the intentions are not always good. We remain attentive to the messages, we choose partnerships of the heart with real sincerity.
CS: And finally, how do you imagine Les Drôles de Rames in the long term? You told me that you don't have a local, is that something that would be useful to you?
DDR: We don't necessarily want to grow up because afterwards, the older we are, the more complicated the quality exchanges become. Before the Covid, we filled 2 boats; currently only 1 and a half so some news that would be nice. We have a good reputation, but yes, a room would be great to work, organize meetings or meet and spend time together.
CS: A little word for the end?
DDR: It's important to keep moving, to get out and to stay in touch. We very rarely regret having practiced sports, even if it is difficult at first. All together, in the same direction!
Meet the Drôles de Rames for the 15th edition of the festival of Dragon Boat in Annecy on 2nd and 3rd October 2021. And don't miss the screening of the United Ladies film on Saturday evening, around 8:30 pm.
2020 : THE YEAR OF LES CRABETTES
This year, Groupe PVG and Cristal Spa have decided to help the Association Les Crabettes. Les Crabettes are creative workshops for women during and after the ordeal of cancer. A true place of artistic creation located in Veyrier-du-Lac, it allows women with cancer to share and free their minds.
Created by Sylviane MEUNIER, herself suffering from and cured of breast cancer, the Association is a real accomplishment. She dreamed of it during her illness and today she offers it to other women. Sylviane more than anyone, knows that when you are touched by cancer, you feel lonely, you lose confidence... With Les Crabettes, she opens a space dedicated to patients, where they can express themselves artistically with creative workshops. and bond with women in the same situation. This intimate and friendly place offers patients a timeless bubble... A great project that we support 100%! The Crabettes website: lescrabettes.fr
2019 : THE ASSOCIATION HOPE SELECTED BY GROUPE PVG
Cristal Spa, this year joined the Pink October operation and supports the Hope Association launched by Annabel Brourhant and Nicolas Chopin, oncologist surgeon at Léon Bérard Hospital in Lyon. Association born from the observation that one in two women is affected by a more or less deep depression after treatment and that few actions are taken to support these women towards recovery.
It is therefore around art therapy and equitherapy that the Hope association supports women in order to help them rebuild, bounce back and share with other women who have gone through the same ordeals. To find out more about the association, go directly to the site: hope-association.com