'We did it - together'

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  • Teammates: Pictured from left to right, beginning with those standing are: Natalia Myshkina of Franklin Lakes, N.J., Jeff Honerkamp of Warwick, Joyce Perron of Warwick, Laura Green of Warwick and Melanie Beattie of Warwick; and in front, from left: Sharon Harding of Washingtonville, Valerie Honerkamp of Warwick, our incredible coxswain Barbara DeStefano of Warwick, and Jean Beattie of Warwick. Also, another special thanks to our amazing sponsor, Intrepid Strength and Conditioning CrossFit Warwick.

  • Provided photos On June 4, the Greenwood Lake Rowing Club had its annual "Learn to Row" Regatta Race. And Joyce Perron and her teammates came back to win.

On June 4, the Greenwood Lake Rowing Club had its annual “Learn to Row” Regatta Race.

It was a beautiful morning. The sun shining and the lake was calm. There were 32 boats racing and I came back to win this year.

I felt very “moved” to write this as I am “finally” ready to share my story in hopes to give others courage, hope and inspiration.

Two years ago, I was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer. It was the scariest news I ever received since my mother, Barbara Le Duc, passed away two years earlier from the same health complications.

Breast cancer affects one in eight women and that number is growing. At the time of receiving this news in May 2015, I was participating in the “Learn to Row” program. Since crewing is a team-based sport, I stuck with the competition and finish the race with my teammates at the time.

It was by far the toughest time in my life knowing that I was about to enter the most difficult battle I’ve ever experienced. I had to stay strong, not only for my team, but for my husband and most importantly my two young sons, AJ and Christian Perron (ages 4 and 7 at the time). I was going to endless doctor appointments and was scheduled for my double mastectomy only two weeks after the regatta race.

Although it was a somber time, our team placed second overall in our group category. I was happy with that.

However, when I left that day, I remember making a promise to myself: I wanted first place and I was very determined to return to the competition in order to obtain my goal and wish.

The following year was spent in the surgery room (six surgeries) and the hospital going to chemotherapy. Losing my hair and having to slow down tremendously was very challenging but I got through it.

This year, I returned to the “Learn to Row” program. I asked a few of my girlfriends from Warwick to help win this race with me this year and that’s exactly what we did.

We won.

At one point of the race, it got very scary. I actually fell off my seat, which could have jeopardized the success of the race. I had to somehow keep the oar out of the water in order to re-position and recover. Not an easy task to do in those 22-inch wide boats while racing.

Nevertheless, we finished the 500-meter race in 2.03.9 minutes. What an amazing feeling that was for me knowing what I went through over the past two years and finishing first in this year’s race.

It was just then, right before we started the race, that I realized that I was already a winner. The feeling of victory was present. I beat breast cancer and I am fully recovered and clear. Not an easy task to do to say the least.

Ultimately, what I would hope this story will do is give that little extra nudge and encouragement to the individuals that may be going through the same battle or similar health complications.

Although life may bring you these lemons or challenges, it is truly your own attitude and staying positive that makes a huge difference with your recovery and goals.

I have learned in my experience that we are much stronger then we think. Truth is, “We are all uniquely strong!” Keeping your head up and staying strong for your family is imperative. We all have our goals but it’s when you can stand up, continue to believe in yourself, never give up and “fight like a fearless girl” is when you have a chance with this very short life we have. Time is incredibly priceless. I know that all too well now.

A special thanks goes out to all my amazing teammates this year and our coxswain that made this goal and wish come true.

We did it - together.

Joyce Perron of Warwick describes herself as a survivor and as someone who is dedicated to giving a helping hand.

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