Highlands girl Kirstie co-hosted the opening of our Largs base after doing two Cowes trips, gaining her Competent Crew certificate and volunteering on our Scottish trips. She is passionate about how the Trust helped her after kidney cancer.
It says everything that I don’t remember much about sailing on my first trip, just laughing with the three girls on my boat.
My confidence was hit hard by cancer. I was 20, living a busy life in Edinburgh, working full-time and about to start a nursing degree when my kidney was removed. When I heard I needed chemo I said to the registrar, ‘But I have such lovely hair, you don’t want to do that!’
I went from always being around people to being in and out of hospital in Aberdeen on chemo for six months. Visitors came when they could but the hospital was an hour-and-a-half from home and four from Edinburgh. I spent long periods alone without face-to-face contact with people. I forgot how to speak to new people.
I was very aware of my physical appearance too; without my wig or make-up my face had no definition, my eyes were massive and sad. I was always really self-conscious that people could tell if my wig wasn’t sitting right. I struggled with losing my independence as I’d been living on my own for so long.
Only other young people who have had cancer can really understand your worries after treatment. Maybe it’s being in such close proximity to each other, it’s easier to talk to new people or cancer is the one thing we all have in common, but talking is so cathartic. You don’t have to talk it just seems to happen.
The scenery and wildlife on Scotland’s West Coast is absolutely WOW, it’s so special. We saw puffins, porpoises and seals, every moment I was in awe of it all.
Being on a boat is spectacular. I feel so alive out there.
I enjoyed my first couple of Trust trips so much I really wanted to volunteer. Cancer made me grow up, and I wanted a different, more responsible role.
There’s always more to do with the Trust. That’s why it’s unique.