They call themselves "the Boob Ops" - a Tauranga dragon boat team with a difference.

All of the women are breast cancer survivors. They've all had partial or full mastectomies.

"Breast cancer doesn't consume us, we park it and do lots of other things to get on with our lives," said team member Colleen Harris.

And one of those things is competing in international regatta competitions. Currently they're training for a Hong Kong event in June.


"Off the water you're friends, on the water you want to compete to the best of your ability," said Ms Harris.

Last season, the women ranged in age from 26 to 74. They say the support you find in the team is an important part of recovery.

"Everybody knows what each other has gone through. It's not the focus, but it's a journey we've all been on so we kind of know where everyone's been," said team member Julie Sachs.

They all agree - post-surgery - exercise is the best thing you can do to move forward.

Donna McDonald has even recruited her husband as a member of the new mixed team.

"I managed to drag him along, and, kicking and screaming," she said.

Mrs McDonald says the cardio involved has been great for her fitness and wellbeing.

"I just love it, it's about being out on the water, you know, and if you've had a really bad day at work you can just come out and really thrash the water, it's really great."

The Boob Ops say their aim for 2018 is to take part in a competition in the Italian city of Florence. They're on a fundraising drive to make this dream a reality.

Made with funding from