My life before cancer was as normal as it could be; an everyday school-lad preparing for his SATS exams and enjoying life to the full. Apart from the odd cold, I was always healthy and never use to get seriously ill. One day, this went against what had gone before and I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) on Mother’s Day in 2008. The moment I was told of the bad news, I felt completely empty and all of my youthful ambition and eagerness had suddenly hardened into sincerity. In the days after the news, I was instantly more serious about life and felt incredibly focused on one thing and one thing only, and that was beating cancer. I wasn’t ready for it, but I had no choice but to tackle it head-on. Everything else became a passing memory and didn’t seem anywhere near as significant as before. I have a very small but close-knit family so the news really hit home but everyone came together and helped me through the experience.
Having gone through cancer, it definitely changed me, in a positive way but also came with some negative consequences too. I was determined and confident after overcoming such a trauma but at the same time, there was still that piece of me missing from when I was diagnosed, like something was holding me back from being my true self; this is where the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust comes in.
I found out about the Trust in a very unorthodox way in that I met CEO Mr. Frank Fletcher on a train, coming back from a hospital check up appointment in London. He was sitting opposite me and I’m the kind of person to socialise with anyone and everyone. I offered him a crisp from my bag of Walkers – Prawn Cocktail! From there we started talking and my bald slap-head kind of gave away the fact I might be recovering from cancer. Frank passed on details of the Trust and then a few months later, I was on my first trip as a young person.
Immediately, within a day of being there, the something that had been holding me back suddenly vanished; I felt completely comfortable around the people I was with and felt like I could be myself once again. The Trust create an environment in which you’re able to share your experience with others around you and this was invaluable to feeling confident once again and almost offloading my worries in post-cancer life. Getting stuck into the sailing and throwing myself into new experiences also aided this confidence. After this, I couldn’t help but keep coming back to sail with the Trust; it felt so rewarding and I was getting so much out of it, whilst enjoying myself at the same time. I got to develop new skills in sailing and it was great to focus on something else away from everyday life.
Up to this point, I felt like I had to give back as much as I could, for all that the Trust had done in helping to rebuild my confidence after cancer. So without hesitation, I became a Graduate Volunteer for the Trust. I’d be in the position of teaching other young people that had been through similar experiences, what I had learnt about sailing. At the same time, I get to further develop my skills and knowledge of sailing; what a perfect combination!
I can categorically say I’m very proud and honoured to be part of the Trust’s Round Britain 2017 voyage. It’s something I am incredibly excited about and can’t wait to spread the message of the Trust and the great work they do day in, day out. I think this voyage will be like no other I’ve ever done and expect quite a few challenges on the way, but I’m very excited by what I expect to be an experience I’ll never forget! For me, I hope to gain some form of achievement from this special voyage but most of all I hope to make as many people aware of the fantastic work the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust. If I can do that, I think I’ll be very satisfied with my trip.