National Cancer Survivors Day celebrates people who have overcome


OGDEN, Ill. (WCIA) — Today is National Cancer Survivors day. We spoke with one breast cancer survivor and what she does now after overcoming her cancer diagnosis.

She was diagnosed with cancer ten years ago…

“Young or old, healthy or not,” said Debi Bliss. “I wasn’t very young, I wasn’t very old. I wasn’t terribly healthy, I wasn’t terribly unhealthy.”

Now, Debi Bliss of White Heath says she’s thriving.

Bliss is a breast cancer survivor and along with 39 others, she helps make up the Prairie Dragon Paddlers.

She says dragon boating has been a sport for 3,000 years. However, Champaign-Urbana’s dragon boating team kicked off in 2016.

Bliss is the coach.

She says exercise and activity are the best ways to fight against reoccurrence of the cancer, and dragon boating is a great way to do that.

“Looking for ways that you can maybe be a little more active or eat a little bit better,” said Bliss. “ANd then when dragon boating came into the picture, that just really fit in a bunch of ways.”

Bliss says being in the boat – with 20 paddlers, one drummer and one person steering the team – is a feeling hard to describe.

“It’s just really an empowering feeling,” said Bliss. “That’s the best word I can give you. It’s just really invigorating. It’s a really empowering experience.”

A typical dragon boat is 42 feet in length and weighs 900 pounds.

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