The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust is a national organisation that gives young people between the ages of 8-18 who have suffered from cancer and leukaemia the opportunity to take part in the new and fantastic experience of sailing. The majority of our young people are off treatment and in recovery from cancer and leukaemia. These young people are recruited by our contact (usually a nurse or social worker) at the hospital or group we work with, as they are more involved with the young people at the hospitals and so aware of who would benefit the most from the trip. The young people can continue to sail with the Trust up until their 18th birthday or remission date. Often the young people that sail with us have spent long periods of time in hospital and can be suffering from low self-esteem on top of missing out on large chunks of their childhood. Studies into the psychological effects of cancer in children highlight how important positive personal relationships with others are in facilitating coping with cancer. They also state how difficult it is for the children (especially teens) to establish independence and a sense of control over their lives and maintain a sense of personal worth. The emphasis of our trips is on teamwork and fun, with sailing as the perfect catalyst. Sailing offers a new experience in a small and intimate environment, which gives the young people the space to assert themselves without the chance of getting lost in the group. These independent studies into the psychological effects of cancer in children and the values of sail training for young people highlight the long term positive impact the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust trips can have on the challenges that children with cancer and leukaemia face. “Jay returned full of confidence, chat, and knowledge of sailing. Jay had ‘life’ back in his eyes. He enjoyed the whole experience"
28 January 2013
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North West's Fundraising Page
The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust is a national organisation that gives young people between the ages of 8-24 who have suffered from cancer the opportunity to take part in the new and fantastic experience of sailing.
Use this page to help us support a young person from the North West, like Meyer.
“Although it was a horrible time, we didn’t have any real dramas during Meyer’s treatment’ recalls mum Emma. “She was three years old when her legs stopped working. X-rays showed nothing wrong, and I was told to go home and try to make her walk! She couldn’t and was getting paler so we went back to hospital, and they took her bloods. This was when leukaemia was first mentioned for the first time. The next day, we were at Manchester Children’s Hospital for bone marrow tests.
Meyer was brilliant through her treatment, always smiling and I never let her see me scared or crying, so she wouldn’t be scared either. After two weeks in hospital, we were back twice a month, and every time she had temperature. She was on chemo for 113 weeks, mostly taken orally or by injection, and took part in a clinical study for a drug that probably wouldn’t help Meyer, but we hope might be helping kids now.
She was never as poorly as some of the other kids, but she never once complained, and even used to show the nurses which veins they should use. She lost her hair about six times, but the last time was the most upsetting, because she was back in school and the other kids were more aware of it. She used to be on her own in the playground a lot, because all the cliques had already been formed.
I’ve always been a single mum, and so I just got on with it all, but you’re almost in a bubble of hospitals and home the whole time. It was a different world where nothing else, jobs, school or whatever, was important. I would never say the word cancer or accept that anything bad would happen to Meyer. We waited five years for the doctors to say she was OK, and for everything to go back to normal again. It was only after it was all over that the severity hit me and I wondered what on earth had just happened to us. Meyer had been the only thing that mattered for so long, but suddenly everything else mattered again, and that was really difficult for me.
When Meyer went on the sailing trip I was petrified! It’s not something I would ever do, but I wouldn’t ever have been able to give Meyer that experience myself, so encouraged her to go and she absolutely loved it. Before the trip she couldn’t make a cup of tea, I didn’t even like her going in to the knife drawer, but when she came back, she’d been cooking and all sorts!
Meyer adds, “The best bit was the sailing, it’s difficult to sail at home and I don’t think I’d have ever had the chance to go on a yacht. I steered it, had a go at doing the winches but they were quite hard, and when I helped put the sail up water fell down on me. I helped make breakfast and dinner which everyone ate, and I had lots of fun, I’m excited to be going back this year.”
Emma finishes, “Her going on the trip made me realise she’s no longer the vulnerable little girl she once was, but is an independent and strong young lady. Thankfully she is now healthy and happy, and can be an inspiration to others, like she is to me, that there is life after treatment.”
Meyer will return to our new Waterpark Residential Dinghy Week in 2011.