Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2021 Feature: Hearts of Steel
Posted September 29, 2021
Guest Writer: Janice Bagnato of Hearts of Steel, Dragon Boats
Hello, my name is Janice Bagnato. I am a daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, soon-to-be grandmother, and best friend. Oh, and I am a two-time breast cancer survivor. When I was diagnosed the first time I did not want to be identified as a cancer survivor. I also did not want pink to be my new favorite color! I did everything the doctors told me to do medically and I went on with my life of raising 4 children and building a house. Then 9 years later I was diagnosed with cancer again in the breast that was removed! The doctors were even shocked, and I was devastated. The “c” word is bad enough once but twice set me into a tailspin. I went on a mission to try and figure out why and what I would do next to not get a metastatic diagnosis.
In my process to find answers I discovered dragon boating. I heard about it at one of the meetings from Magee Women’s Healthy Living events. I was looking for a support group as well as a way to stay active and get healthy, both physically and mentally. Dragon boating was the answer. This team and these women are the most supportive, loving, hardworking, and competitive (in a healthy way) women that I have met to be a support group for survivors. Dragon boating makes you work hard at paddling together as one team. The boat will go faster and farther if we all paddle together. We get to take our minds off life and cancer and work solely on “One team, One heart!” I love that our team is run 100% by survivors and we have a board that works tirelessly on meeting our mission statement. I have said many times that dragon boating has been lifesaving and what I mean is that it gives me a reason to want to be stronger and healthier every day.
Cancer survivors live with always wondering if it will come back and that is a difficult way to go about your daily life. Dragon boating takes that wondering and makes it a distraction and easier to deal with. Being on a dragon boat team in the City of Champions only makes us work harder to live up to that way of life in Pittsburgh. Work hard and be resilient in all that you do. We are so very proud to be called the Pittsburgh Hearts of Steel. Our hearts are waiting for you. See our website to learn more about the team and read some more testimonials from my teammates.Learn more: https://www.heartsofsteelpittsburgh.org/