17 January 2023

My Life Now - meet University of Manchester student Isla

It’s been 20 years since the Trust first set sail – what are the young people who have been on trips up to now? Our 'My Life Now' series shows a positive future after cancer is a reality. The support of the Trust reinvigorated Isla to try new things.

Isla looking happy with a big smile during her last Trust sailing trip in 2022

Name: Isla Pontone

Age: 19

Diagnosis/year: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in 2008

When did you first sail with the Trust? 2016

What you do now? I’m in my second year at the University of Manchester. I take Film Studies and History.

Explain what that means?

I major in both subjects. I do both practical and theoretical studies for film, and I do a very expansive history course. A particularly good unit of mine is my ‘Introduction to Documentary’ unit in which I am learning to produce my own short documentary.

Why did you do want to do this?

Both these areas have always been a keen interest of mine. From a young age I loved making short films on iMovie and my passion grew from there. I also really wanted to go to university so I could be independent.

Isla and crewmates pictured smiling during the ASTO Small Ships Race in 2022What's the coolest thing you've done lately?

Other than the ASTO Small Ships Race with the Trust, I have recently led a talk with my university’s feminist society. It was about women in Hollywood and the drama surrounding the film ‘Don’t Worry Darling.’

Why did you need the Trust's support in recovery?

I was incredibly anxious post-treatment, to a point where I couldn't even maintain eye contact during conversations or put myself out there at all. After all my trips I feel reinvigorated to try new things and mentally I am a lot more peaceful.

I always describe the Trust trips to be somewhat ‘free therapy’ and I still completely believe in that.

What part has the Trust played in you doing what you are doing now?

I could never imagine myself having moved away from the dependence on my mum if it hadn’t been for the Trust. I was able to pursue what I love because the Trust gave me confidence in myself.

I am now able to speak confidently in seminars, lead talks in front of multiple people and have been able to seek out friendships independently. I never thought I would be capable of any of this.

What’s your top tip for a young people interested in working in your industry?

Try everything! By putting yourself out there, your opportunities massively increase. Seek out things you love and pursue them without worrying about potential failure!