Dragon Dream team brings a boatload of support for breast cancer survivors

Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 11:33 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The journey in the fight to take on breast cancer began long before Deann Viebranz took to a Portage County lake. It’s a journey she won’t face alone.

“It starts to dawn on you what’s happening,” said Viebranz. “I felt a lump on my own, and so I went to get it checked. I was diagnosed in December of 2008. I had surgery, chemo, and radiation in 2009, and I thought I was on the road to recovery.”

The retired math teacher thought she beat breast cancer, but cancer crept back into her life again.

Deann was working out when the pain became unbearable. Her doctor gave her a devastating diagnosis.

“I sat there, and I started to think, and he kept talking, but in my mind, I’m like pain-free quality of life, that means he’s not talking cures. He wants to make sure that I’m pain-free for however long this journey takes,” explained Viebranz.

Deann was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. The disease is in her bones and liver. Life expectancy is roughly two years.

“You’re dumbfounded you’re in total shock when you hear that diagnosis,” she said.

Deann’s found comfort surrounded by a sisterhood, eighty members of the Akron Dragon Dream Team. They are a group of cancer survivors, each with a different story sharing the same bond. The group meets several times a week. They compete several times a year.

Deann was on the team that traveled to Italy, where they took third place in the world and finished first place in the U.S. She described the victory as exhilarating, but cancer is a constant reminder.

“It’s difficult when you lose a teammate. We have this sisterhood. It’s like losing a family member,” said Viebranz.

Deann takes it one day, one stroke at a time. She says she’s grateful for every moment, even as she deals with the pain.

“My hands and feet swell. They’re fire red, and they start to shrink, so they crack, and they bleed, and they peel,” she said.

However, her spirit and faith are strong.

“Three p’s. I live by progress cause I’m a Christian, and I believe in the power of prayer. The pills that I take and keep a positive attitude,” said Viebranz.

Deann’s defying the odds.

A decade living with stage 4 cancer, now ten years after that devastating diagnosis, she continues her journey, inspiring her other teammates to continue to push on, hoping to one day find a cure.

“Twenty-two, there’s twenty two people out on that boat; we paddle as one. We’re all in this together,” said Viebranz.

Copyright 2021 WOIO. All rights reserved.