21 February 2024

My Life Now - meet Jolie

It’s been over two decades since we first set sail – what are the young people who have been on our trips up to now? Connecting with peers in similar situations empowered Jolie to confidently pursue university away from home.

Name: Jolie Hill

Age: 22

Diagnosis/year: Rhabdomyosarcoma in the Lung 2004 Jolie sat at the helm with her blonde hair blowing in the wind and the choppy sea behind her on a grey day.

When did you first sail with the Trust? Summer 2013

What do you do now? I am currently a student at the University Campus of Football Business, where I study Sports Business and Sports Broadcasting.

Explain what that means? I am learning about every aspect of Sports TV Production. From behind the scenes with videography and editing to TV presenting.

Why did you want to do this? I enjoy the behind the scenes side of TV production. My aim is to one day be travelling the world with Formula One and helping create content for an F1 team.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve done lately? Last year I had the opportunity to go to Qatar before the FIFA World Cup. I visited all the stadiums and learnt about how Qatar had prepared for the competition. However, my favourite part was when we visited Lusail International Circuit, where we saw the Alpine F1 team testing. As a Formula One fan, it was surreal to be so close to the car, and I found it so fascinating watching the crew working in the garage.

Why did you need the Trust’s support in recovery? I’ve always been quite a shy kid and I feel like that was to do with the fact that I was different. There was no one else at my school that had cancer, everyone had two lungs whereas I only had one, and so I didn’t want to stick out from the crowd any more than I already did.

But going on these trips with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust was the only time when I felt safe to be me. I think it was to do with the fact that I knew everyone was in the same boat (excuse the pun). We had all been diagnosed with cancer, we had all gone through treatment of some sort, we had all been to hospital etc. Even if we didn’t have the same type of cancer, we all had similarities of some sort in our cancer journeys, and we all had a way to connect with each other and not feel so alone.

Thinking back to my very first trip back in 2013, which feels like a lifetime ago, I don’t feel like the same shy girl any more. I’m at university, I live away from home in a very busy city, I’ve met loads of new people and made friends. I have confidence and I owe that to this charity. I went away for a weekend in September to train to be a Trust volunteer and one of the things that they said to me was that they liked my confidence. Hearing that made me so proud of myself, so proud of how far I’ve come, and I will forever be grateful to this charity for that.

Jolie dressed up smart wearing a navy blue suit and white shirt with tie. She is stood in a football changing room next to a red Ronaldo shirt hanging up.What part has the Trust played in you doing what you do now? It was scary moving up to London for university. I didn’t know anyone, and so I knew I would have to put myself out there in meeting new people. It was especially difficult given the fact that just before this move, I had been shielding for the past year and half as I was more at risk of COVID. Needless to say, I hadn’t had much social contact before going to uni. But I still went and put myself out there, and now I have made some incredible friends. All because the Trust helped me to build up my confidence.

Every trip I’ve been on I have stepped outside my comfort zone, I’ve met new people, I’ve sailed boats, I’ve abseiled down cliff faces and climbed up to very tall heights. They’ve helped me build up my confidence which I was able to transfer to my everyday life, and now I’m about to start my final year at uni and hopefully (fingers crossed) get a job.

Why did you want to come back and volunteer? These trips would not be possible without the volunteers. They’re the first people you meet on your trips, and they’re always so friendly and welcoming. They create a safe environment where you can talk about your cancer (if you want to) and they help you create memories that will last a lifetime.

I’ve been on many trips, and I’m always so grateful to the volunteers for what they do. And now I want to give back. I want to help young people on future trips create memories and have as much fun as I did on these trips when I was younger. But most importantly, if I can change at least one young person’s life, help their confidence and make them realise that they’re not alone, then I will be happy.

What’s your top tip for other young people? Just put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to talk to people and always create a good first impression. In this industry it is definitely about WHO you know, not WHAT you know.