Of all the medicines Maxine had, that first trip was the one that made her better.

— Maxine's Mum
Read Maxine's story

Maxine is the young girl whose photo famously accompanied Ellen MacArthur on her record-breaking round-the-world sailing voyage in 2005.

Aged nine when she was diagnosed with a Ewings Sarcoma in 2003, Maxine had an operation to remove her coccyx and underwent very aggressive chemotherapy.

She was in the first group that ever sailed with the Trust.

It changed everything for her...

Practically the first question everyone asks each other on a trip is ‘What kind of cancer have you had?’ It’s as normal as asking someone their name.

For the first couple of days you talk about your cancer then it’s barely mentioned. How much hair you’ve got, how you walk or if you need to sleep, none of it matters. It’s almost funny how casually everyone treats the subject.

When all you’ve been used to is the seriousness of hospital, to laugh and talk about what you’ve been through is beyond words.

I thought I’d never want to talk about my cancer.

But I remember the overwhelming sense of relief when we were settling down to go to sleep and one of the other children asked me about it.

You go from being on the verge of sleep to talking for hours, feeling for the first time in forever like you’re not the only one.

The friendships you build are so close. Once you’ve shared your experiences of cancer there are no barriers.

I have friendships that will last a very long time.

I went on my first trip with zero confidence and was very shy.

But on the first evening I had more fun than I’d had for a very long time. I was just a 10-year-old girl again; playing games and eating crisps, chocolate and fizzy drinks, doing things you could never do in hospital.

For the first time you also see young people who have been through the same things as you and come out the other side.

I didn’t even realise how much I enjoyed myself until I got home and was crying that I wanted to go back.

Mum was stunned! She said there was a massive change in me, but only now I look back and can see that myself.

Going through what I did at a young age shaped my life. I’m very adventurous, am always trying new things and making the most of the good times.

To have been invited back to sail with the Trust so many times was incredible. I know how I felt meeting young people that had recovered.

You can see a future; that things will get better.

All I can do is try to encourage others to have fun.
Just keep having fun.

That’s what the Trust taught me.

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