21 February 2024

Three is the magic number

It's three years since we joined forces with Teenage Cancer Trust and Young Lives vs Cancer to try to bring a more co-ordinated and holistic approach to young person's cancer support. As we head into 2024, what's the big picture?

Sophie and Shell smiling together with their Trust navy caps on and Musto jacket

Shell and Sophie discovered us through our incredible charity partners, Teenage Cancer Trust and Young Lives vs Cancer, and joined us on a memorable sailing adventure last year. Connecting with others who truly understand and being able to share openly without judgment had a profound impact on both of them.

Three years ago, we made our partnership official to ensure every young person can achieve the best possible outcomes. Each of us brings a unique contribution, addressing various stages of treatment and life beyond cancer. That's why we firmly believe we're #BetterTogether.

In 2023, 81% of young people who came sailing with us for the first time had been supported by either or both Teenage Cancer Trust and Young Lives vs Cancer, and no fewer than 40% of these first timers had been signed up for their four-day adventure by either their Teenage Cancer Trust Youth Support Co-ordinator or Young Lives vs Cancer Social Worker.

Always here

But it's not just young people coming out of treatment that need Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust support.

Sophie, for example, finished treatment for Ewing sarcoma in 2006 but still deals with after-effects. Experiencing the transformational difference of a four-day sailing adventure had a lasting impact on her, even 17 years later.

She said: “I had treatment so long ago, I wasn’t sure if I’d fit in. I have quite a lot of long-term effects, which are very present in my life even though it’s been so long. It’s really nice I can still, in my mid-20s, access the trips and come along. All of us have had different experiences, but there are lots of parallels too.”

Shell, who was 20 when diagnosed with lymphoma, agreed: “I was always in a room isolated by myself for treatment. People assume I have a lot of cancer friends or know people, when I actually don’t. It got to the point where I was like ‘I don’t even know where I find these people anymore’.”

By the end of her week on a boat, Shell said she felt better mentally for having had a space to talk about cancer in a positive way.

Looking ahead

It's currently full steam ahead for the 2024 trip season. Young people who are coming sailing for the first time this year will be welcomed to our bases in Largs, on Scotland's West Coast or Cowes on the Isle of Wight, from mid-July, with no fewer than 15 four-day sailing adventures set to take place for under and over 18s up to mid-September.

Alongside this, the ground-breaking research project we have been involved in with Young Lives vs Cancer, Teenage Cancer Trust and Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG), is continuing to collect data.

This is being analysed by our research partners, Dartington Service Design Lab ahead of the publication of a report and recommendations on gaps in psychosocial support and what needs to happen to build a better future for children and young people diagnosed with cancer in the UK.