Sailing charity helps teen get back to a more normal life

A WOKING teenager who is living through cancer has enjoyed five days of sailing on the Solent with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust.

Emmie Smith, 19, was seven when diagnosed with acute lymphomblastic leukaemia, and this month she was among 12 young people from across the UK to sail from East Cowes Marina on the Isle of Wight.

ALL SMILES – Emmie, second left, on board with trust volunteer Mary Ganczakowski, skipper Andy Barnes and Alys, front right, and Emily, who are also in recovery from cancer

The trust inspires young people aged eight to 24 to believe in a brighter future beyond cancer. Many struggle to pick up again from where they were before diagnosis, leading to feelings of isolation, loneliness and anxiety.

Emmie, who first sailed with the trust in 2019, said: “Lockdown was very lonely. I didn’t do much so it’s really nice to be with people again.

SAILING ALONG – Emmie out on the water with another boat from the trust

“I’ve been looking forward to this trip for a long time so it’s great to be back and to communicate with people.

“I had leukaemia when I was seven and it’s impacted my life even now as a 19-year-old. It’s been difficult as I’ve had to do lots of catching up, but I’ve had some great opportunities from having cancer that I wouldn’t have had, like this.

“Being able to meet and talk to people about it on trust trips makes you feel better as you know you’re not the only one.”

The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust was founded by the round-the-world yachtswoman in 2003.

Dame Ellen said: “We hear it a lot, that for many young people what happens after treatment can be as difficult as the treatment itself, if not more so.

“We know the impact the trust has on the mental wellbeing of young people. Sailing is just the vehicle. On the boat some magic happens, it’s the environment that  being on a boat creates.

“We find a huge transformation in many young people the first time they sail with the trust.”

* FOR more information on the work of the trust, its sailing trips and how to apply, visit www.ellenmacarthurcancertrust.org

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