Woodside breast cancer survivor brings hope to thousands through love of paddling

Paddle for the Cure breast cancer
Leah Salmorin founded Paddle for the Cure to help others struggling with breast cancer after she was diagnosed in 2004. (Photo via Paddle for the Cure website)

When Leah Salmorin was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, her entire life changed, but she was able to take her hardship and turn it into inspiration for herself and the lives of countless others. 

Salmorin, a Woodside resident, founded Paddle for the Cure in 2013, offering recreational dragon boat paddling to manage the side effects of treatment for breast cancer. The non-profit promotes a happy and healthy lifestyle, as Salmorin believes that the road to recovery relies heavily on spending time in nature.

“You have to go to nature; water is a part of healing,” Salmorin said. “Leading a holistic life and being in the environment will help. I just want to inspire others that there is always hope.” 

Salmorin mentioned that many patients become “stuck” once they are diagnosed with cancer.

“The way I see it, why people do not make it is because when they are diagnosed they do not keep on going,” Salmorin said. “I am delivering that water is life; I throw all the bad energy in the water and when I come back I feel renewed.”

(Photo via Paddle for the Cure website)

The water and paddling has always been special to Salmorin. She said that back in the Phillipines, where she was born and raised, swimming was a way to connect to her father who died when she was young. 

“When my father died, it was a turning point of our lives,” Salmorin said. “The reason I’m in love with swimming is because my dad would throw us in the river like fish so that we could learn how to swim. My dad died young, but the good seeds he planted in our hearts are still there.”   

Salmorin received her treatments from NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, which has now become a partner with Paddle for the Cure. 

“Elmhurst is my home away from home,” Salmorin said. “The first time I stepped through the door at Elmhurst, they wrapped me around with a blanket of love. [They] saved my life.” 

Salmorin had a lumpectomy, four cycles of chemotherapy, 38 days of radiation and ended her treatment taking tamoxifen in 2009. In remission, she has still struggled with her health, fighting diabetes and kidney issues, but she refuses to let that stop her. 

Salmorin published a book titled, “Journey to Excellence Through Service” in May. She also rang the Nasdaq Stock Market Opening Bell this past summer on behalf of Paddle for the Cure, right before the Dragon Boat Festival in New York City.

Leah Salmorin rings the Nasdaq Stock Market Opening Bell. (Photo via Paddle for the Cure website)
 (Photo via Paddle for the Cure website)

With no plans to slow down, Salmorin will be hosting numerous upcoming events, including Bowl for Hope on Oct. 11, hosted by Paddle for the Cure, NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst and Women in Lighting + Design NYC. This fundraiser will benefit Hope Pavillion Cancer Clinic. There is also an upcoming rowing event on Oct. 22. 

To learn more about Paddle for the Cure and to participate in their upcoming events, visit pfcnyc.org.