Two brave cancer battlers have taken on another tough challenge - the high seas.
Holmfirth’s Morgan Sykes and Calderdale’s James Averill joined an inspirational sailing trip with Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust.
The pair, who are both fighting forms of cancer, joined 18 others on a four-day trip off the coast of Scotland. They crewed yachts sailing on the Firth of Clyde.
For James, 21, who is currently undergoing treatment for Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) at St James Hospital in Leeds, it was his first time sailing with the Trust.
He was serving in the Royal Signals when he was diagnosed in April last year.
“I had been injured and was working out to recover from that when I realised I was getting weaker and weaker.
“I went to see the doctor on the Monday and on Tuesday I was in the hospital having all sorts done to me.
“The sailing trip was a real buzz. My favourite part of the trip was when it rained for a little bit whilst I was at the helm of the boat with the rain on my sunglasses. I felt awesome, like a true captain.
“After chatting to the skippers and the volunteers here, I really want to get into sailing. I thought that I would go on this trip and never sail again afterwards, but this is just the beginning for me. Now I want to be a skipper.’
Sailing onboard 48- foot cruising yachts, the Trust trips provide a chance for the young people to test themselves in a safe and supportive environment, encouraging them to work as a team and get involved in everything from helming the boat to cooking.
Morgan, of Hinchlifdfe Mill, celebrated her 18th birthday last September and it was only weeks later she thought something wasn’t quite right.
Hodgkin lymphoma develops in the lymphatic system. A clear fluid called lymph carries infection-fighting white blood cells around the body.
The most common symptom of Hodgkin lymphoma is a painless swelling in a lymph node, usually in the neck, armpit or groin.
Morgan, who finished cancer treatment in May 2015 for the condition at St James Hospital, said: ‘Meeting all the other young people was great because you get to talk about your treatment in a different way than you would to someone who does not have cancer.
“My highlight of the trip was seeing whales and dolphins whilst we were out on the water. Being allowed to be really hands-on with the sailing has given me back the confidence that I lost after my diagnosis.”
Launched in 2003, the aim of the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust is to give young people in recovery from cancer the chance to rebuild their confidence through sailing.
Dame Ellen, who tries to spend a day on as many trips as possible, adds, “The mental and social fall-out from cancer can be just as devastating as the physical illness. Everything we do is about building confidence, self-esteem and having fun together.”
In its 12th year, the Trust has grown beyond every expectation into a national charity. Working with every young person Principal Treatment Centre and a growing number of Designated Units in the UK. Taking young people aged between 8-24 who are recovering from cancer on four-day sailing trips.