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.
Recovery on Water empowers all patients and survivors of breast cancer to get fit and fight back.
Founded in 2007 and incorporated in 2008, ROW began as a collaboration between Sue Ann Glaser, a breast cancer survivor, and Jenn Gibbons, a high school rowing coach. Since its founding, ROW has not only significantly developed as a non-profit organization, but its membership has grown exponentially, serving patients and survivors from the city and suburbs of Chicago.
Patients and 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 complications, 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 goal of the ROW program is to increase exercise consistency in people diagnosed with breast cancer and to improve their quality of life.
Recovery on Water provides exercise programs for 100 patients and survivors of breast cancer 7 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. Our indoor rowing programs (offered year round) are located at the Eleanor Boathouse, at Bluprint Fitness and Alliance Rowing Club.
Along with indoor and outdoor rowing, ROW has a significant outreach presence at UIC and Stroger Cook County Hospitals. We educate over 200 patients and survivors throughout the year on exercise and its role in survivorship, combating side effects from treatment and beyond.
Our free community indoor rowing program serves over 250 people a year, offering free exercise at the Eleanor Boathouse on Tuesday and Thursday nights.
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. 95% of team members shared that ROW makes them feel part of a community and less alone. 97% say that ROW has helped in their efforts to maintain a healthy body weight and 100% (yes, 100%!) of our members would (and do) recommend ROW to other patients and survivors of breast cancer.
After joining ROW, our Novice rowers (patients and survivors new to the program in the last 12 months) were able to increase the frequency of their exercise by almost 80% (an additional 1.75 workouts per week). Based on their workout habits, this adds up to more than three (3) additional hours of exercise every week.