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
Please note Virgin Money Giving isn't responsible for the content fundraisers post on their pages, but if you see something you feel is offensive or inappropriate, please let us know and we'll look into it.
West Midlands' 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 West Midlands, like Rajpal.
Rajpal from Wolverhampton was 13 when a lump appeared on his neck. The doctor dismissed it, simply prescribing antibiotics, but when Raj began having difficulty eating, they went back for tests.
A specialist eventually told Raj’s father Narjit it was cancer, which was now wrapping round his jaw and spinal chord. Narjit and Raj’s Mum Suki remember sitting down to tell Raj. Suki said, “When we all found out it was a shock, but the focus was just on thinking what needed to happen next. We all just wanted to get it sorted out as quickly as possible, and Raj’s attitude was just ‘OK, lets get on with it then.”
A biopsy confirmed Stage 3 Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma but luckily it hadn’t spread into the bone. Raj began chemotherapy immediately at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Suki continues, “It made him really sick but he was determined to be rid of the cancer and so just accepted the awful side-effects. We kept telling him after its all over you’ll be ok. The hospital staff were brilliant, they explained what was happening and we got to know other families on the ward, but there weren’t many teenagers around, it was mainly small children often running about or making noise, which wasn’t the best thing for Raj while he was hooked up to a machine. He lost a lot of weight and he began to loose his hair, but as he’d always worn a turban you didn’t really notice. As soon as it had all fallen out it started growing again.”
Raj started treatment just before the summer holidays so didn’t miss out on too much study. He tried to work from home although he couldn’t concentrate as he felt too ill most of the time, but his friends still visited a lot, which was really good for him. After chemo came radiotherapy, which was the worst part of the treatment for Raj. At the time, the Royal Marsden in London had more accurate radiotherapy and at the end of the summer Raj had to go there every week for treatment, coming home at weekends. Raj remembers, “It gave me sores in my mouth, and it felt like my throat was burning from the inside out, I couldn’t swallow properly, and so they had to put a peg in to feed directly into my stomach.”
The family all pulled together to get through Raj’s illness with the attitude to “do it, beat it, then carry on,” and when Raj was able to go back to school he had the offer of going on the Trust sailing trip. Raj said, “I’d never tried sailing, but the trip was really good. I met so many new people who I’d never have met otherwise and it was good getting to know people my age who’d been through similar stuff and lived near me. Everyone looked out for each other and we were all dealing with the same things. I came back to Bradwell the year after, which was a really funny trip, and met even more people, it was the best part of my life so far, and earlier this year I took part in the Round the Island Race.
“The Trip was really great, I got to meet Ellen and got to sail with her which was amazing! I also got to visit the Race Village at the Yacht Haven and take part in all the activities they had there, which was awesome! Hopefully I can go back next year!”
Rajpal is now doing his A-levels and is applying to universities. He hopes to study Particle Physics at university and pursue a PHD in that field, and we wish him the best of luck, and look forward to seeing him again in the future.