Lois Chappell fought her own battle with cancer, as did many of her family members. She said joining the local dragon boat team was her saviour. (Quinn Bender / The Northern View)

Why We Relay: Lois Chappell

After her battle with breast cancer, a Prince Rupert woman found camaraderie on a dragon boat team

To fight something like cancer, for Lois Chappell it was important to remember to forget once in a while.

Like too many in the family before her, in 2003 Chappell was diagnosed with cancer. The news came one and a half years after her mother’s diagnosis, after her son’s, her great niece’s and her brother’s to which he lost his life.

“When I got mine it was the same time my husband was terminal with a lung disease,” she said. “I was under a lot of strain. My dad was [also] dying, my husband was dying, my mom just got over breast cancer and now I’ve got it too. It was just one thing after another.”

But Lois is a real fighter, as she puts it. She pushed through open heart surgery at the age of 46 and 11 years later she would beat breast cancer too.

“You’ve got to face it. You’ve got no choice. You’ve got it and they can’t instantly take it away.”

Shortly after her last radiation treatment, a time most survivors use to rest and recover, Chappell was forced back on her feet to mind the family business and look after her ailing husband.

READ MORE: Why We Relay: I’m with Isaac

That’s when a friend, also a survivor, compelled her to join the local dragon boat team, the Rainbow Warriors. With the camaraderie of her teammates on the open water, muscles burning, looking back on the city, the stress over her recovery and the worries about her husband dropped away for a couple of hours two nights a week.

She describes it as a lifesaver. In fact, if there is wisdom gleaned from her experience with cancer, it’s to push others to find their own escapes. Even the most fierce of warriors need to take five during a fight for their lives.

“Take every treatment you can get, do what your doctor says and get active and eat good. And don’t dwell on it. Get something to get your mind off it. Take up a hobby or go for a walk or talk to somebody. You know, you can’t just sit there and expect other people to wait on you.

“You’ve gotta try. You can’t just sit around.”

Since those first paddle strokes on the water 15 years ago, dragon boating has been a big part of Chappell’s life. It’s with sadness she and the executive were unable to form a team this year, but she remains hopeful public interest in the sport will return in 2020.

“You don’t need to be a survivor to join, but if you are it’s a special kind of camaraderie. During regattas, you take about four or five boats to what they call a carnation ceremony…everybody starts to cry because it brings back all your fears of what you started with. But then you realize everybody around you is the same. And so it’s like a big family almost. It helps you get through it. You need somebody to help you get through because cancer is a scary word.”

The Relay for Life will take place on May 25 at the Prince Rupert Middle School track from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m.

Just Posted

Break-in at Prince Rupert Post Office causes service delay

Office closed most of July 8 morning after overnight forced entry

UPDATE: U.S. firm fined $2.9M for fuel spill that soiled B.C. First Nation territory

The Nathan E. Stewart spilled 110,000 litres of diesel and heavy oils in October 2016

Provincial stage for Prince Rupert athletes

Northwest girls softball team will look to be a mainstay at tournament after long awaited return

Global Sports Bra Squad Day in Rupert

The event encourages athletes to run in whatever makes them comfortable regardless of shape or size

Global Sports Bra Squad Day in Rupert

The event encourages athletes to run in whatever makes them comfortable regardless of shape or size

Report of dead body in B.C. park actually headless sex doll

This discovery, made at Manning Park on July 10, led police to uncovering two other sex mannequins

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Science expedition to Canada’s largest underwater volcano departs Vancouver Island

Crews prepared for a two-week research mission to the Explorer Seamount

B.C. shipyard to get one-third of $1.5 billion frigate-repair contract

The federal government has promised to invest $7.5 billion to maintain the 12 frigates

Worried about bats? Here’s what to do if you come across one in B.C.

Bat expert with the BC Community Bat Program urges caution around the small creatures

B.C. on right road with tougher ride-hailing driver rules, says expert

The provincial government is holding firm that ride-hailing drivers have a Class 4 licence

Most Read