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Dragon's Breadth



Sitting in a doctor’s examining room, with a paper gown strategically draped and a cold draft up your backside, is not one of life’s most pleasant experiences. But it’s a piece of cake compared to sitting in that same examining room and hearing a doctor nonchalantly say he needs to test you for cancer – ASAP.

Hearing the “C” word first hits you in the gut, and then travels upward. When your mind finally grasps reality, it is hard to process. You have the tests and then you wait. For those of us who have been through the drill, the relief is beyond words when you hear the results were negative. For those who weren’t that fortunate, words can’t express the mind-numbing fear that grips you.

Enter the ancient sport of dragon boat racing.

Huh?

Yes, dragon boats – those long human-powered watercraft that go back 2,000 years to ancient China. In case you hadn’t heard, dragon boat racing is sweeping the country as a form of therapy for cancer patients and survivors.

A new documentary is hitting theaters this summer, produced by Oklahoma native Liz Oakley. Originally from Bartlesville and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Oakley has focused her lens on this growing endurance sport. The result: “Awaken the Dragon,” a 90-minute film detailing the rise in popularity of dragon boat racing and how it is empowering cancer survivors.

“The sport has been around for thousands of years,” Oakley said from her South Carolina office. “But it wasn’t until the 1990s when physicians began using it as a form of therapy for cancer patients.”

“I think everyone will leave the theater with something a little different,” Oakley said. “I think it depends on who you are and where you are in your life journey.”

Years ago, there was a belief that upper-body exercise could cause or worsen lymphedema, a painful swelling of the arm experienced by some breast cancer survivors. A small research study was developed to challenge that belief, and the first-ever cancer survivor dragon boat team emerged.

“Pairing cancer survivors and dragon boating may seem unlikely,” Oakley said. “But the sport actually symbolizes man’s struggle against nature and a fight against dangerous enemies. Participants, whether recovering from an illness or not, can draw strength and encouragement from the metaphorical aspects of dragon boat racing.”

Since those early days, teams of dragon boat racers have been established throughout the world. Oakley’s new documentary takes a look at people who are all in the same boat, so to speak.

“I first came up with the idea for this film when a friend told me cancer survivors were paddling dragon boats on the Ashley River in Charleston,” Oakley said. “At that time I had never heard of dragon boating. I went down to the dock and within moments I was captivated by the story of the first paddler, and I saw firsthand the beauty of the sport.”

Oakley says she was looking for a compelling topic for her second feature documentary, one that could possibly change lives. That’s when “Awaken the Dragon” was born.

“Many of dragon boating’s time-honored rituals, such as the ‘eye-dotting ceremony,’ are still practiced today. That involves painting the eyes to ‘awaken the dragon.’ That ceremony will cleanse and bless the event, and impart the strength of the dragon on the vessel and the crew,” she said.

The past six years have been a whirlwind as Oakley traveled the country-developing a passion for a sport that was growing right before her eyes. She followed a fledgling team, profiling their strength, courage and survival.

“I think everyone will leave the theater with something a little different,” Oakley said. “I think it depends on who you are and where you are in your life journey.”

For those battling the Big C, dragon boating offers a real sense of empowerment. And it’s a phenomenon taking shape right here in Oklahoma City at the Chesapeake Boathouse.

“We offer dragon boating during two seasons,” said Sherry Andrusiak, Director of Media Relations for the Boathouse. “It’s a very easy sport to learn, one that requires minimal instruction on land. It is great for those with mobility issues, because it is a low-impact, non-contact sport. It’s also perfect for team building and learning to work together.”

“I don’t think about life the same way after spending the past six years with these unique individuals,” Oakley said. “I don’t think about death the same way. There are lessons for all of us, regardless of what’s written on our medical records. We shouldn’t have to hear the words ‘you have cancer’ to start living our best lives. I hope this film inspires others to stir their own slumbering powers.” 

A Rousing Success

“Awaken the Dragon” hits Oklahoma City for two showings at the deadCenter Film Festival: Friday, June 8 at 6pm and Sunday, June 10 at 3pm at the Harkins Bricktown Theatres. deadCenter Executive Director Lance McDaniel praises Oakley for taking a very serious subject and turning it into an uplifting piece of art.

“That’s one reason we are so excited to show it,” McDaniel said, “because Liz doesn’t present this as a fairy tale. It is a very realistic look at women and men pulling themselves into recovery and doing it in a very unique way.”

Oakley will return to her home state for question and answer sessions immediately following the film.

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Calendar

April 2019

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
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Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

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Celebrate Easter with a trip to Andy Alligator’s Fun Park! On Saturday and Sunday, get $5 off an All-Day Pass with our Eggcellent Easter Special. All-Day Passes include Go-Karts,...

Cost: $23.95

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park & Water Park
3300 Market Pl
Norman, OK  73072
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Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

The OSU Symphony Orchestra will conclude the 2018-19 season with Schubert's monumental and majestic Symphony No. 9 in C ("The Great"). The concert opens with The European Anthem,...

Cost: General Admission: $10; Students & Seniors: $7

Where:
Oklahoma State University Department of Music
132 Seretean Ctr
Stillwater, OK  74078
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Sponsor: Oklahoma State University Department of Music
Telephone: 405.744.6133
Contact Name: Dr. Thomas Dickey
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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Potbelly Sandwich Shop is giving back to the local neighborhood with Feed Your Smile, a fundraiser supporting Concordia Life Care Community.  Show this flyer on your smartphone or...

Cost: Free

Where:
Potbelly Sandwich Shop
8500 N Rockwell Ave
OKC, OK  73132
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Sponsor: Potbelly Sandwich Shop
Telephone: 405-792-5112
Contact Name: Katy Fabrie
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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

More information

"Deliberately silencing the internal chatter and not overthinking. Conscious, but not over-trying. With this approach, things just seem to happen—it’s where all the substance is...

Cost: Free

Where:
Individual Artists of Oklahoma
706 W. Sheridan Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: Individual Artists of Oklahoma
Telephone: 405.412.2541
Contact Name: David Smith

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A Sporting Chance will host the 25th annual Track and Field Meet at Branson Junior High in Branson, Missouri. A Sporting Chance provides year-round sports and recreation programs designed for those...

Where:
Branson Junior High
263 Buccaneer Boulevard
Branson, MO  65616
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Sponsor: A Sporting Chance
Telephone: 404-314-2188
Contact Name: Hannah Schachinger

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Shop over 200 vendors at this indoor event with everything from vintage furniture, retro and mid-century decor to handmade goods, antiques, industrial finds and architectural salvage!

Cost: $5 at the door, 13 and under free

Where:
Heritage Place
2829 S. MacArthur
Oklahoma City, OK  73128
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Sponsor: Junk Hippy
Contact Name: Kristen Grandi
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This one-day festival is rooted in the printing of large-scale woodblocks carved by local Oklahoma artists. We bring in a 5-ton steamroller and print pre-carved blocks throughout the day on Tyvek...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Contact Name: Evan
Website »

More information

The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

More information

Andy Alligator's is celebrating teachers! On Saturday and Sunday, teachers with a valid ID will receive a FREE All-Day Pass and $5 off for each family member! An All-Day Pass includes...

Cost: Teachers receive a FREE All-Day Pass; family members get $5 off

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park & Water Park
3300 Market Pl
Norman, OK  73072
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America’s largest interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: $59.95

Where:
The Skirvin Hilton
1 Park Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: The Dinner Detective
Telephone: 866.496.0535
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Get a sample of the nightlife of Spain at Tulsa Botanic Garden's "Viva La Vida." The Garden is bringing star chef Jamie Bissonnette (Toro restaurants in Boston, NYC, Bangkok and...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Dr
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
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2nd annual gathering of "The Big Lebowksi" fans at The Dude Abides OKC All Oklahoma City Urban Achievers, Abiders and Coen Brothers fans are invited to join us at Fassler Hall OKC and...

Cost: Free, contests have entry fee

Where:
Fassler Hall
421 NW 10th
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
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Sponsor: Revolve Productions
Telephone: 405.810.6977
Contact Name: Tobi Coleman
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