A Donegal woman has been appointed as Ireland’s representative for the International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission.

Deborah Bonner

Donegal Town’s Deborah Bonner is delighted to take on a new role to connect a unique community of sportspeople – Ireland’s 11 breast cancer dragon boat teams.

Deborah founded Donegal Dragons, a breast cancer survivor and supporters club that is a vibrant and all-inclusive team of women.

She is also a member of the Wild Atlantic Warriors – a dragon boat team drawn from numerous clubs who are set to compete at the 2018 IBCPC festival in Florence.

On the new appointment, Deborah told Donegal Woman: “I was very chuffed to be asked to take on this exciting job and honoured to accept it. It’s great for our town and county to know that they can contact me anytime and ask any questions.”

Deborah Bonner Image: Donegal Dragons

Deborah was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 just after her 40th birthday. Her battle has involved surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and she continues to take medication.

It was Jim Mc Guinness who set Deborah on the path of dragon boating. She learned about the sport from the former Donegal manager, who spoke of fitness and breast cancer at a Relay for Life event. Her amazing journey soon began, and Deborah went on to set up Donegal Dragons in 2015.

To keep a long story short, she said: “I eat and sleep Dragon Boating.”

Image: Donegal Dragons

Dragon Boating is a form of paddling that can help breast cancer survivors exercise the upper-body and support recovery.

The sport was introduced to the breast cancer world 19 years ago in Canada by Prof. Don McKenzie. Deborah has personally met Dr McKenize and has discovered how the sport helps with rehabilitation after surgery and improves lymphedema (swelling in a part of the body that can be a side effect of cancer).

There is no age limit and no experience needed to take part, people just to be finished treatment and have their doctor’s permission.

“It’s changed my life for the better,” Deborah said.

Image: Donegal Dragons

“My mission for Donegal Dragons is for fun, friendship and fitness and this sport will show us that people can live a very active life despite a cancer diagnosis.”

As Ireland’s National Representative in the IBCPC, Deborah will be gathering information and stories from clubs to share with people in dragon boating all over the world.

If you would like to contact Deborah, visit Donegal Dragons on Facebook