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Cancer keeps her from paddling, but a special request got her back on the water

Sandra Chiles is battling breast cancer. It's made the sport she loves difficult, but her team proved it'll take more than that to keep her from White Rock Lake.

DALLAS — There’s a sort of magic in this world when you find something you love. Something that keeps you going in the best and worst of times. Something that always keeps you coming back. 

For Sandra Chiles, that is the water and the women of Dallas United PINK. Four years ago she was a founding member of North Texas’ competitive dragon boat team made up of breast cancer survivors.

"If you’ve ever liked adrenaline in your life, this is the way to get adrenaline," said Chiles. "There’s no other way I know how to get it today!"

RELATED: They all faced breast cancer. Now, they row crew with each other

This group is what it is because of Chiles. She helped bring many members to the team. Unfortunately, it's been months since she’s picked up a paddle. Her cancer is stage four, in her bones and her organs. Doctors agreed she should sit this year of dragon boating out. But she asked her team if one of these Saturdays she could get back on the boat.

They did one better, by setting up the day and surprising her with all four of her daughters who traveled from as far as Hawai'i to see their mom come back to what she loves.

The team never left Chiles's side, helping her get in the boat and cheering her on as she disobeyed doctors' orders. It was a day about savoring the chance to tell people you love them while you can.

"You can’t even find this type of camaraderie if you just went and looked for it, you know," Chiles said about the team. "It just fell into my lap and I am so fortunate."

Out on the lake, disease is forgotten. But eventually, we all have to come back to shore.

Still, there's another bit of magic about this group that Chiles helped shape. Even when illness keeps her from the water, she’ll always be there in spirit, in the hearts of her team. 

For more on the Dallas United PINK team, or if you know someone who might be interested in joining, information sessions for the next season start in January. Email PINKINFO@dallasunitedcrew.org for information.

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