History & About

Regular exercise has been shown to reduce cancer recurrence in patients treated for breast cancer by up to 50%. Recovery on Water (ROW) is a rowing team for women diagnosed with breast cancer; giving them the unique opportunity to interact, become active in their recovery and gain support from fellow survivors. Incorporated in 2008, ROW began as a collaboration between Sue Ann Glaser, a breast cancer survivor, and Jenn Gibbons, a high school rowing coach at Ignatius Chicago Crew (ICC). They enlisted ICC’s student volunteers to attend practices, help carry the rowing shells and provide support to the survivors. The goal of the ROW program is to increase exercise consistency in people diagnosed with breast cancer and to improve their quality of life. ROW provides exercise programs for survivors 4 days a week, year round: in rowing shells on the south branch of the Chicago River during the spring, summer, and fall, and on indoor rowing machines during winter months.

Mission

Recovery on Water is a rowing team that gives survivors of breast cancer the unique opportunity to interact, become active in their recovery, and gain support from fellow survivors.

The Need & Our Results

Survivors of breast cancer will undergo or have undergone surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of all three in attempts to treat their disease. Such treatments may leave patients with significant sequelae, including lymphedema, obesity, depression, and poor quality of life. Many studies demonstrate the beneficial effects of exercise on breast cancer survivors, showing significant reduction in depressive symptoms and fatigue, and improvements in lymphedema, bone mineral density, body mass index, quality of life, and most significantly, relapse rates.

The benefit members get from the exercise provided and the organic camaraderie is unique, life changing, and has begun to be studied. Through data collected from the current ROW team, we’ve learned that ROW has significantly increased the quality of life for breast cancer survivors on the team.  One hundred percent of members reported that ROW positively impacts their lives, socially, emotionally and or physically at least once per week.  Forty percent of members reported that they experience the benefits of ROW on a daily basis.  After joining ROW, 80% of members report that they exercise four or more days per week, as opposed to only 25% who exercised with this frequency prior to joining ROW.