17 March 2021

My Life Now - meet Rachel

It’s been 17 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 confidence Rachel gained through the Trust paved the way for her future and helped turn her cancer experience into a positive one.

Name: Rachel Blackford

Selfie of Rachel Blackford sailing Age: 29

Diagnosis/year: Lymphoma in 2005, then relapsed with chronic lymphoma in 2014

When first sailed with the Trust: 2007

What you do now: My job title is Research and Evaluation Officer at Oxford Brookes University.

Explain what that means?

The university runs events with schools/colleges to help students from under-represented backgrounds go to university, and I lead on the evaluation of these events to find out what works well and what we can improve.

Why did you do want to do this?

I love having the chance to use social research skills to make sure we’re helping people. I absolutely loved my 3 years at university so it's great to help other people get to experience going to university. That’s the biggest thing that motivates me – feeling like the work you’re doing is making a difference to people’s lives. I started off with jobs doing some research/evaluation in a couple of different cancer charities, so this job is just the next step.

What's the coolest thing you've done lately?

In 2019 I took a break between jobs and went traveling for six months on my own. I traveled around South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand and had the most amazing experiences (and took far too many photos!). I still can’t believe I actually did it!

Rachel Blackford standing in front of Aires Rock in AustraliaWhy did you need the Trust's support in recovery?

The Trust helped massively with my confidence as it helped me practice meeting new people and making friends, which really helped when I went to university after I had missed years of school. I also really loved being able to talk to people at school about my sailing trips – I was not just 'the cancer girl' anymore, instead, I’d done something amazing over the summer that I could talk about. It's like the Trust turns cancer into a positive thing in your life.

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

The confidence I’ve got from the Trust has helped massively in every part of my life. Volunteering for the Trust helped me realise that what really motivates me is feeling like I’m making a difference, and that’s the biggest thing I look for in any job. And also sailing with the Trust is a great example of teamwork to use in job interviews.

What's your top tip for a young person interested in working in your industry?

If you enjoy it, you will do well! After university, I didn’t really have a clue what I wanted to do, so I just tried a few things and found what I love. So, don’t stress if you don’t know what you want to do in the future, just try some different things and life has a way of working itself out.

Rachel is now using her experience as a Trustee for the new Alike App, a game-changing peer support platform. Check it out HERE.