Lynda Rock: Cancer fighter, world champ

This photo of Lynda Rock was taken in 2008, when she was preparing for the Dragon Boat World Championship.

Lynda Rock never let a cancer diagnosis stop her from becoming a world champion.

The Charleston resident succumbed to the disease Sunday at age 54, but not before carving out a legacy that inspired others around the world.

Rock was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2003. After undergoing chemotherapy, she took on the challenge of dragon-boat racing, a grueling sport where 20 paddlers propel 41-feet boats through the water.

Paddling was her therapy, and she said she wanted to prove that a cancer survivor could be just and strong as anybody else.

She went on to win three silver and two bronze medals for the United States at the 2009 World Dragon Boat Championship in Prague.

Her team, half of whom were cancer survivors, also won a gold and seven other medals at the 2010 National Championships in Orlando, while she was undergoing chemotherapy.

“Her name really says so much,” former teammate Grandee Ray of Charleston said. “She was really just the rock of strength. She never gave up. She never complained.”

Rock was on occupational therapist by profession.

“Lynda led a full life, celebrating each day as a daughter, sibling, friend and most importantly a mother,” her family said in her obituary.

Survivors include her parents, Thomas F. and Ingrid D. McDonald of Charleston; and a son, Graeme Rock of Charleston.

A memorial service is planned for 6 p.m. Friday at the Charleston Maritime Center at 10 Wharfside St.

Stuhr’s downtown chapel is handling funeral arrangements

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.