I met Gail Messier at Cure By Design D.C. last summer. She came up to me while I was taking pictures for Scripps Howard Foundation Wire backstage and just started talking. She was going to walk down the runway holding a big paddle — a dragon boat paddle, she clarified, because she was on a team of inspirational breast cancer survivors and supporters who paddled together. The women transformed their inner strength into physical strength — competitively.
Later that summer, I met an editor at the Washington Post over coffee, and she asked me on the spot to pitch a story. I told the editor about Gail and her breast cancer dragon boat team. A few phone calls, interviews and dragon boat practices later, my article and several photos were published in the Washington Post’s local section in late August, with Gail in the lead.
Gail gave me several of her poems about breast cancer. The lines got cut from the Washington Post version, but they are included in the version I wrote for Scripps Howard. She embraced her survivorship and wanted to inspire others to do the same.
A teammate emailed me recently to tell me Gail passed away in late January after her breast cancer came back. These photos are dedicated to her life and memory.
Click the i in the upper left corner of the slideshow to see captions.
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