My name is Sue Bibby, and I have been a Pool of Life Member since 2014. I can say without any exaggeration it has changed my life!
I was at my second appointment to see the Consultant at Warrington General Hospital. I was still in shock from the diagnosis a couple of weeks earlier. My daughter had driven across the country from Bedford with her tiny premature baby of four months to support me.
In the crowded Waiting Room, my daughter spotted a single solitary leaflet for Pool of Life Liverpool – a Dragon Boat team in Liverpool for individuals diagnosed with Breast Cancer!
“You should try that”, she said.
“Oh Yes”, I replied, while thinking, “Not blimmin’ likely, I can’t even swim!”
Nevertheless, a year later, after months of treatment and surgery, I decided out of curiosity, and to satisfy my daughter, to give it a try! I managed to find all the information online and contact the team!
On the first Sunday of every month, Pool of Life has a Pink Paddle. It’s an opportunity for new members or people thinking of joining to meet the Team and have a session in the Dragon Boat! I arranged to go, but I was terrified, not knowing what to expect! A POL member greeted me in the car park at The WaterSports Centre! Inside I was greeted by a sea of pink, great warmth and an enthusiastic welcome!
After the ‘Warm-up’, we were off in the boat, and the welcomes continued. One of the friendly ladies I was sitting by, beaming with health, told me that she had been diagnosed twenty years previously!
Well, what can I say! Terror took over to one of pure joy. It was so amazing to be on the water! We paddled to The Albert Dock, and all went to Costa for coffees and chats!
I felt immediately comfortable in the group and knew I was with people with whom I had a shared experience!
After that, I started training regularly. Eight months later, I flew with the team to Mercia in Spain to compete in the First Breast Cancer Dragon Boat event in that area – definitely a first for me! There was stiff completion, with teams from all over the UK and Europe, but we won silver and gold medals! That was it; I was hooked! I never thought that I would win an award for sport in my 60’s!
In between training, we went for walks, met up for social events and fundraising events (fashion shows and quizzes).
Since joining the team I have had the opportunity to paddle in International Events in Florence, Barcelona and events in Dublin and Donegal, plus local events in Liverpool, Preston and Nottingham! The Pool of Life has forged close contacts with other Dragon Boat Teams in Windermere, Preston, Eastbourne, and several teams in Ireland! In the future, a composite team from several areas in the UK will compete as “The Pink Royals”.
I have family living in Brisbane, Australia, and Portland, Oregon. My association with the POL has given me the confidence to contact teams in those areas and paddle with them during family visits.
My life changed because my daughter spotted that leaflet.
I have learnt that positives can come from negative experiences. I have met people from different backgrounds, places, nationalities and ages but all with a shared experience!
I still can’t swim very well, but I never feel unsafe due to my team’s support and care.
I enjoy being on the water so much that in 2019 I sold my house and it’s contents and now live on a canal boat at Liverpool marina.