The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust is a national charity that supports young people aged 8-24 in rebuilding their confidence after cancer.
When treatment ends our work begins because, for many young people, picking up where they left off before their diagnosis isn’t possible.Find out about our trips Support the Trust
Through sailing and other UK-wide adventure activities, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust supports, inspires and empowers young people aged 8-24 to embrace their future with optimism after treatment for cancer.
Young people build confidence by making friends with others who have had similar experiences - often for the first time - rediscovering independence away from home and learning new skills. Most importantly, they stop feeling like the ‘only one’.
Young people feel more positive about getting back into education or employment, reconnecting with their friends and families and reestablishing their place in the world. They discover a future they might never have thought was possible.
Every year in the UK, around 1,900 children (0-14) and 2,600 young people (15-24) are diagnosed with cancer - that's around 12 a day (CRUK, 2019).
Happily survival rates are increasing. But young people remain vulnerable after treatment as it comes at a time of rapid physical, emotional and social development.
The most obvious impact of treatment is on body image. Side effects can include temporary hair loss and weight gain to permanent scarring, amputation and brain damage. Many young people contend with ongoing late effects too, such as extreme fatigue, infertility, osteoporosis, thyroid problems and hearing or vision loss.
Young people with cancer struggle with a range of emotional and mental health problems too - 70% experienced depression during treatment, 90% had anxiety and 83% felt lonely (CLIC Sargent, 2017).
Many miss education, don’t sit exams or have to leave jobs whilst on treatment. They can be crippled by shyness as they lose day-to-day contact with new people and their friends move on. Survivor guilt is also common, as young people question why they lived and friends they made on treatment did not.
A chasm exists between treatment and young people successfully reengaging with social, emotional, educational and employment norms. The Trust fills that gap.
Trust trips deliver a challenging environment and facilitate social interaction and educational experiences, positively enhancing personal growth, motivation, confidence and independence (Roberts, 2014).
Mixing with others who have had similar experiences is key. That is why our Return to Volunteer programme - where young people supported by the Trust in recovery can come back as trip volunteers – is so important.
It is very powerful for a young person in the early stages of recovery to talk to older volunteers who understand exactly what they are going through. Seeing these volunteers who are now healthy, confident and enjoying life is aspirational.
We work with every young person’s principal treatment centre, and a growing number of designated units, in the UK.
Young people typically learn about the Trust through our contacts in each of these hospitals or units, usually a nurse or CLIC Sargent Social Worker. They recommend who they think would be benefit from coming on a trip.
Young people can also come on a trip as a ‘self referral’. These include those who feel they were never in or are no longer part of the system. They often hear about us through other charities they are involved with or friends who have been on our trips.
If you know someone who is struggling or could do with a bit of support, however long off treatment they are, we would love to hear from them.
From Dame Ellen MacArthur’s early inspiration to how we got to where we are today.
"We’ve not had much control over our lives because of the experiences we’ve had. It’s really nice to be able to reclaim that."
Finn was just six when he began experiencing severe chest pains. Doctors told him they were caused by anxiety, but the only thing making him anxious were the chest pains. He was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, finishing treatment aged eight, but relapsed the following year.Find out more about the trips Support the Trust
Your imagination is the only limit to what you can do – from a personal challenge to doing something fun with friends or at work.
Help rebuild more young lives after cancer by giving a one-off gift, making a regular donation, donating in memory or leaving a little something in your will.