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Ancasta and Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust continue empowering lives beyond cancer

by Ancasta 28 May 16:00 UTC
Gabby benefited from sailing with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust after suffering a rare ovarian cancer © EMCT

Following a successful partnership in 2023, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust has once again partnered with the Hamble-based Ancasta Group, one of Europe's largest yacht sales and service organisations, to inspire brighter futures for young people living through and beyond cancer.

Cancer can have a big impact on a young person's mental wellbeing and, for many, picking up where they left off before their diagnosis just isn't possible.

This is where the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust comes in. When treatment ends, the Cowes/Largs-based charity sets out to help young people aged 8-24 re-establish their purpose and place in the world through various sailing adventures and outdoor activities.

Gabby's story

One of these young people is Gabby Nunes, a 23-year-old from Hampton in Middlesex, who was diagnosed at aged 19, during the height of Covid, with immature teratoma, a rare ovarian cancer.

After complaining of pain, Gabby's mum, a GP, felt her stomach and decided to get her seen privately for an ultrasound to avoid the long NHS delays being experienced at that time.

Doctors soon discovered that Gabby had a massive cyst and referred her straight away for treatment. Gabby then underwent a series of surgeries and egg collection, followed by seven weeks of intense chemo, where it was necessary for Gabby to undergo gruelling sessions for five days at a time at The Royal Marsden Hospital in London.

"You go through chemo, you aren't sleeping, you have brain fog, I had egg collection, my body thought it was having kids, but then they put me into menopause and my hormones were all over the place," says Gabby of her cancer journey.

"I would say I'm quite an extroverted person, but I don't know if it's because of the cancer or just because of growing up, going to university, Covid etc. that I feel like I have become a lot more anxious."

Sailing with Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust

In September last year, Gabby was invited to sail with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust from its East Cowes base on the Isle of Wight. Although Gabby had been on several trips with other cancer organisations since her treatment ended, on her sailing trip she was thrilled to discover similar-aged people who have all experienced their own cancer journeys, where she was able to form strong bonds over their shared experiences.

"All of us have really enjoyed sailing and getting involved, like I haven't been on my phone at all! We've just been sailing on the boat, sitting out here chatting - and it's a lot more natural than some of the other things I've been to. It's been us leading the conversations rather than the volunteers forcing it.

"Going back to university after getting ill, people try to relate to you on the shallowest level, because they hadn't had cancer. Here [on the sailing trip], you don't feel like people are trying to be nosey or attack you in any way, because it comes from them having gone through the same thing. I think with everyone who has had cancer, you know that no one cancer is the same as another cancer, so the way everyone spoke about things was just really relaxed."

"We are thrilled to continue supporting the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, whose dedication to supporting young people's mental wellbeing after their cancer treatment has ended is truly inspiring, and a cause that we at Ancasta feel very passionate about," says Nick Griffith, Ancasta Group Managing Director.

Over twenty years since the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust was launched, 3,137 young people have sailed with the charity. In March 2023, the charity laid out its ambitions for 2023-2025, including its aim, by the end of 2025, to double the number of young people it supports in one year.

Frank Fletcher, Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust CEO, says: "With our deep understanding of the life-changing difference we make to young people's lives, we are confident of our ambition to be accessible to all young people who have a cancer diagnosis in the UK and have the biggest impact possible on every one of them.

"We are truly grateful to the Ancasta team for their ongoing commitment in helping us achieve our ambitions. We want to reach as many young people as possible so that they can experience the transformational magic of the Trust for themselves - by pushing their physical boundaries on sailing adventures and other outdoor activities, as well as offering peer support and role models to help inspire these young people as they navigate their way through the mental upheaval of their cancer journey and beyond."

For more information visit: www.ellenmacarthurcancertrust.org or ancasta.com

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