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French women take up fencing in fight against breast cancer

·1-min read

The World Health Organization has designated October as Breast Cancer Awareness month to raise awareness of a disease that affects up to one in eight women in their lifetimes. FRANCE 24 visits a sports centre in Lyon, where women have turned to fencing to battle their breast cancer.

Regular exercise has been demonstrated to significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer. Studies have shown that physical exercise can reduce the risk of cancer recurring by as much as 25% and improve survival rates by 30%.

For these female fencers in Lyon, there is the added benefit of being able to physical fight their cancer with a sword.

"Fencing is a good activity to let off steam and unload," says Natalie, who was diagnosed in March. "Often we associate the invisible enemy in front of our sword with the cancer. With our swords we chase it, we slay it and smash it into a million pieces."

Fencing can help them to build up strength in their arms, especially where their scars are.

"We work on the side that has been operated on, that means that a woman who is right handed and has been operated on her left side, she will work on the left side," explains Laure Sibué, the fencing teacher. "We work a lot on upwards gestures, which will allow them to lift their arms a bit higher and recover the mobility that they lost due to their operation."

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