LIVING WELL: Former Olympian and Australian sporting legend, Raelene Boyle, was in Ballina speaking at a Breast Cancer Network Australia information session on Tuesday, October 31.
LIVING WELL: Former Olympian and Australian sporting legend, Raelene Boyle, was in Ballina speaking at a Breast Cancer Network Australia information session on Tuesday, October 31. Graham Broadhead

Sporting legend inspires breast cancer survivors

TODAY, Australian sporting legend Raelene Boyle has days where she doesn't feel like getting out of bed.

But she rides those days through, knowing they will pass, and she will feel better.

And the wellness she does feel, she attributes to exercise.

Boyle AM MBE, who sprinted her way to silver medals at the 1968, 1972 and 9176 Olympic Games along with a swag of Commonwealth Games medals, is a breast cancer survivor.

The Sport Australia Hall of Fame Legend also is a board member for Breast Cancer Network Australia.

She was at the Ballina RSL Club today to speak at a BCNA wellness and information forum.

Boyle, 66, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 44 when she was still in peak condition at her "racing weight” and jogging 5km every day.

She admits that she felt depression, and went into a "fog” with the medication she was prescribed.

But she decided to take back control of her life, and encourages other women, and men, recovering from breast cancer to the same thing.

She said breast cancer survivors can do what they enjoy, and that has health benefits.

"I started exercising, and eating well again,” she said.

"I was doing the things I wanted to do.”

She said exercise releases endorphins, which are the body's natural feel-good chemicals.

The gathering of about 100 people at the Ballina RSL Club heard from an exercise physiologist who reiterated the message of the benefits of exercise in breast cancer recovery, citing several research papers.

While Boyle in her day was an elite athlete, the exercise she now enjoys are to walk the dog along the beach, or take a stroll to meet friends for coffee as well as doing "manageable weights” at the gym.

She encourages breast cancer survivors to do any exercise they can, and said they will feel the benefits.

There is a Dragons Abreast dragon boat group for breast cancer survivors that trains at Lennox Head.

Boyle said the Dragons Abreast movement had the added bonus of not only providing exercise, but also providing the social benefits of being part of a team, with goals to work towards.

She said the BCNA provides plenty of information to breast cancer patients and survivors, the kind of information which wasn't available when she was diagnosed.

An an estimated 17,700 Australians expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.

BCNA CEO Christine Nolan said information forums like the one in Ballina were an opportunity for people living with a breast cancer diagnosis to learn more about new developments in treatment and connect with people in their local area who are going through a similar experience.



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