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Breast cancer survivors make waves

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Courtesy KTTC

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- It's a diagnosis that can change a woman's life in an instant -- re-shaping her body and her outlook on life.

A group of area breast cancer survivors and supporters gets together in Rochester once a week for an exercise that helps them navigate their new world.

Making waves is a program put on by Join the Journey, and it's made up of a group strong women who go down to Silver Lake every Wednesday in the summer.

In matching life jackets and rowing perfectly in sync there's a group of women in Rochester making waves.

"This is better than any support group you can attend," said Deb Gearhart, a breast cancer survivor.

Every woman on the Dragonboat has a story to share -- whether it's her mother's, sister's aunt's or daughters. For many of the women the journey is their own.

"I went in for a routine physical and they found lumps and it just progressed from there," Gearhart said.

"I had in situ which is an encapsulated type of breast cancer," said Kathy Williamson, the president of Join the Journey.

Now the women are healing.

They say they dip their oars for friendship, and the camaraderie that comes from shared experience makes an impact on them all, but the healing on the waves doesn't just happen in the heart.

"This was developed because they discovered that the rowing takes away the lymphedema in the arms and that's a huge thing," Gearhart said. "And it's fun. It's not like going through physical therapy."

For these women, at this time in their lives, the fun is the most important part of the experience, It's a reminder that though many things may have changed over the years, they're still here.

"It's all about living after you've been diagnosed," Gearhart said. "It's not about having cancer or about what might happen. It's about deciding that you're going to live."

Join the Journey will be holding its ninth annual Breast Cancer Awareness Walk on Sept. 15.

Read on KTTC

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