By Forest Hills Times columnist Michael Perlman
Breast Cancer Survivor Leah Salmorin , A Humanitarian Behind “Paddle For The Cure”
A charity known as Paddle For The Cure (PFC) is determined to “strike out breast cancer,” thanks to the leadership of breast cancer survivor Leah Salmorin, a Flushing resident and humanitarian, who has touched the lives of survivors and supporters. “I work as a freelancer and left the corporate world for the love and humanity and formed my charity, which was my calling in exchange for the gift of life,” said Salmorin, who serves as the founder and president. The non-profit’s mission is to create a sisterhood of breast cancer survivors, provide hope and support for cancer survivors and their families, enrich lives through dragon boat paddling, achieve growth for the sport, and to unite the community for charitable purposes through paddling and racing.
A number of public events are planned. That includes Bowl For Cure, a fundraising event coordinated by PFC in partnership with Women In Lighting & Design, which will be held at Bowlmor Lanes in Times Square on March 25 from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. Donations will benefit patients of The Hope Pavilion Cancer Clinic of Elmhurst Hospital Center. The PFC 2019 Kickoff will be held on June 8 from 11:45 AM to 12:45 PM at the World’s Fair Marina in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, where survivors and supporters will be ready for a dragon boat paddling experience. Participants will meet at the white dome area at 11 AM. Updates will be available on www.pfcnyc.org
Salmorin said, “Our organization is founded on ‘practice + perseverance = power,’ and by being widely recognized for our water sports, we aim to spearhead festivities to continue to build our 3 A’s, ‘awareness, action and advocacy’ in our road to recovery.”
PFC is built on the concept, “water is life,” since it is a vehicle for raising awareness of breast cancer and the key for healing according to Salmorin. She explained, “As a swimmer, I pour all the negative energy in the water, and when I step out, I feel renewed. In reference to paddling, Dr. Don C. McKenzie, a sports medicine physician at University of British Columbia concluded that women who paddle marked improved physical and mental health with no recurrence of lymphedema, since paddling increases flexibility, aerobic capacity, and strength.”
PFC is shaped by Salmorin’s “POWERS acronym,” where P stands for “prayers, passion, and persistence,” O is for being “open to new ideas,” W relates to “working hard for a great cause,” E is for “embracing pain because pain,” which she considers her friend, R is for “resilience and rejoicing with the Lord,” and S is for“sacrifice with a smile.”
Her story offers a beacon of faith and hope, especially after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2004, when she was told that she had 6 months to live. She explained, “I was in Florida at the time, when I felt a lump on my left breast, and without second thought, I flew back to New York for a checkup. Since my family has a history of breast cancer and diabetes, I’m very conscious of my body. After being diagnosed, I was drowning in a deep ocean and felt so alone struggling and in desperate need of help. It was shocking, since I’m an active person who loves sports and especially swimming, and I’m very active in my religious and community environments.”
Salmorin underwent a lumpectomy, four cycles of chemotherapy, 38 days of radiation, and took tamoxifen through October 2009. She reminisced, “I told myself that I will not allow cancer to ruin my life or knock me down completely, and I will beat cancer because I am a winner and achiever by birth, and I will enjoy life to the fullest.” Fifteen years later, Salmorin is in remission. She continued, “I am advocating for myself through some trial and error and I am pursuing natural remedies, and I take full responsibility for my actions.” Most of all, as a leader, she says, “I can’t consider myself a true leader, if I can’t create more leaders in the space.”
When asked how she overcame her condition, she responded, “I brought a positive energy inside my system since knowledge is power and attitude is everything. I program myself by having a clear mindset and full voltage, especially in the morning, as it plays an important role to start my day right.” She also developed a ritual. “Every morning I open the shades, look up at the sky, and thank God for everything. I look into the mirror, saying the words of affirmation, ‘I AM powerful, beautiful, and strong . I am the Co creator of my reality and the child of the most high God.’”
After her diagnosis, she prepared a game plan and consulted with the priest for anointing of the sick. As for the first plan, she said, “I would go to the cemetery and pour all my emotions there.” The second plan entailed her surgery. “Before my surgery I requested the staff to give me papers, and I pretend to take exams and told them that I will pass with flying colors.” In response to radiation, she said, “I brought a certificate to the clinic and the staff signed it, and when I completed the course, the doctor signed it that I graduated.” Plan 4 involved a barber visit. “I told him to shave my head, and I didn’t allow him to open his mouth and say ‘Why?’ since self-pity is not in my vocabulary. I said, ‘Hey, you see I have my beautiful earrings, and with a matching bald head, I will be a stylist.’”
To maintain a healthy body and state of mind, Salmorin takes pride in swimming, biking, yoga, acupuncture, reiki, sounds of healing , writing, public speaking, diverse workshops, and church services as a lector at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and St. Joan of Arc. She said, “Life needs to be balance, and if your body is thirsty for something, go for it. I surround myself with like-minded people that can smile to the world, and I ignore people that have negative attitudes, since it’s not good for my immune system. I always couple everything with divine power, and I take time to be away from everyday distractions, to nurture my mind, body, and spirit because I need to regain powers.”
Salmorin has been featured in the book, “Faces of Inspiration,” which places a spotlight on breast cancer stories. Her story is titled “Humility and Faith,” referencing her two lessons as a survivor. An excerpt reads, “Through some government workers, I learned to be humble, diplomatic, and forgiving of their insensitivity” and “My faith in God comforted me; with him beside me nothing is impossible.” She also explained, “My doctor, nurses, and staff of Elmhurst Hospital Center were very accommodating and courteous, which is why PFC has partnered.” Her work before as a hotline volunteer and patient navigator is also referenced.
Salmorin’s vision is to bring the PFC team to race out of town, aside from participating in the NYC Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival. In the long-term, she envisions bringing everyone into the water to benefit from dragon boating and bringing the team to race internationally.
Salmorin is grateful for her two mentors, being raised in a medical family in the Philippines which exhibited great values, and her passion for water and assisting society. She said, “I am thankful for each day that I can feel the air coming out of my nose and knowing my purpose of existence on this planet. With the love of my family and friends who support me, that gives courage to keep moving forward and bringing PFC to the next level.”
Toss of a carnation as a symbol of ‘HOPE’, and to remember those that lost their battle and to thank GOD for those that are still here
Sexy PINK “Flamingo, “ our buoy for the “race’ and our partner for adventures and fun activities in the water.
Water is our way of raising awareness for breast cancer as water is the key to healing. Water is LIFE.
YEAH!!! The final race was a success !!!
Vinyasa Yoga at Lululemon athletica
Joining forces at the Empire Dragon NYC”s cleanup at the World”s Fair Marina.
Zumba Dance and Wine Tasting at Zack”s Dance Loft
Sex and the City Tours with On Location Tours
Dance for the Cure at the Immaculate Conception
Zumba Dance for the Cure at West Side YMCA on 63rd Street in NYC
February 23, 2004 – Diagnosis of breast cancer
PinkBRAthon Race to Recovery
Mets Event with Elmhurst Hospital Center
Practice at the Marina with the New York Wall Street Dragons
Stand Up Paddle Festival with Kostal Paddle
Lining up for the dragon boat race
Releasing of the white pigeons as a symbol of Peace and Unity and guide the racers for a happy safe ride.
Bowling Tournament with the Women in Lighting + Designs
We gather and place our hands together and say our motto, “We Live Here , We Race Here, We Save Lives Here! “