How Isle of Wight sailing trip run by Dame Ellen MacArthur inspired Sheffield teacher and cancer survivor

A primary school teacher who has battled cancer has told how sailing around the Isle of Wight through a project run by Dame Ellen MacArthur has helped her on the road to recovery.

By Errol Edwards
Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 11:55 am

Rosie Flack, aged 30, of Beauchief, was 24 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Now in recovery, she is back at work as a primary school teacher, but still has to take daily medication to help keep her steady.

She has just enjoyed a five day sailing trip with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust team between June 13 and 17 – an experience she said had helped her to ‘feel healthier in my mind.’

Rosie-Flack-with crew mates.

She added: “Your mental wellbeing is affected after treatment so it’s lovely to spend time with others who have been through similar. Hearing other people’s stories and experiences makes it feel a little more normal.”

The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust inspires young people to believe in a brighter future while living through and beyond cancer.

Rosie first sailed with the Trust in 2018.

She added: “It’s lovely to meet other people like you so you don’t feel so alone.

Rosie Flack

“Everyone here has had bad luck with cancer so it’s great to meet other people that are in the same boat and share your experiences.”

Once a young person like Rosie has sailed with the Trust for the first time, they can stay involved, either by returning for further annual trips or, if they are aged 18+, by becoming a volunteer to support other young people like them.

Rosie said: “The volunteers on the trips that have also had cancer are so important, they’re just brilliant role models. You meet a few people during treatment on the Teenage Cancer Trust ward but not afterwards, that’s why the Trust is so great.”

Through the Trust’s sailing and outdoor activities, young people meet others who have had similar experiences - often for the first time, rediscover independence away from home, experience an increased sense of purpose and self-worth, and begin to realise what they are capable of again. Most importantly they stop feeling like the ‘only one’.

Rosie with fellow sailor

The long-term support inspires young people to believe in a brighter future. They can start to re-establish their place in the world by getting back into education or employment and reconnecting with their friends and families.

Rosie said: “After this week I definitely feel healthier in my mind, it’s nice not having to worry about the real world and be in this bubble with like-minded people. I feel refreshed and like I have a bit of a tribe now.”

Dame Ellen MacArthur, the Trust’s founder and patron, became world famous in 2005 when she broke the record for the fastest single-handed circumnavigation of the world in just over 71 days.

She said: “We hear it a lot, that for many young people what happens after treatment can be as difficult as, if not even more so, than the treatment itself. Receiving funding from People’s Postcode Lottery has been a game changer in enabling us to reach and have a positive impact on the lives of many hundreds of these young people over the past decade.

Dame Ellen Patricia MacArthur DBE

“We know the impact the Trust has on the mental wellbeing of young people living through and beyond cancer.”