Cancer survivor from Edinburgh sails to a brighter future

A 27-year-old Edinburgh woman who has been battling cancer for the past three years enjoyed four days sailing with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust in Largs last week – and she says it “came at the right time”.

Lisa Kerr was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2019, a week before turning 25. Sailing with the Trust has given her the opportunity to resonate and connect with other people who have been affected by cancer.

Speaking about her experience, Lisa said: “A lot of the time, when you’re out of treatment, people stop asking or forget that you’re still undergoing check-ups and you still have links with your cancer ward.

“They think that once treatment is done, that’s you, back to normal. So I’ve found the trip really useful – just speaking to people, hearing their stories and talking about my experience.”

Lisa Kerr sailing with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust
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    The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust inspires young people aged 8-24 to believe in a brighter future living through and beyond cancer.

    For many young people, picking up where they left off before their diagnosis isn’t possible. So, when treatment ends, the Trust’s work begins.

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    The Trust was founded by the record-breaking yachtswoman, Dame Ellen MacArthur, in 2003.

    Lisa Kerr helming off the coast of Largs with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust

    She says: “Sailing is just the vehicle. On the boat some magic happens. It's not really the sailing or the water, but the environment being on a boat creates.

    “We find a huge transformation in many young people the first time they sail with the Trust.”

    Lisa was among 11 other people who experienced a week on the water last week.

    She said: “Although my cancer diagnosis was really rubbish, a lot of positives have come from it. Being out on the boat is really nice, being in the middle of the sea, away from normal life. It’s been such a positive experience.

    Caledonian Hero sailing from Largs

    “I’d had chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and I finished radiotherapy in February just before Covid. So just as I was about ready to start going out again, I had to shield.

    “I felt like it knocked me back a bit. I didn’t know how I was meant to feel, what stage I was meant to be at energy-wise.

    “Sailing with the Trust was one of the first things I’d done since coming out of shielding.

    “It’s come at the right time. It was so nice to be away, out and about again, and with people who understood. They knew how daunting it was just trying to go back out again.”

    Through the Trust’s sailing and outdoor activities, young people are able to meet others who have endured similar experiences.

    Dame Ellen MacArthur, the Trust’s founder and patron, 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.

    “We know the impact the Trust has on the mental well-being of young people living through and beyond cancer.

    “Thanks to players of the People's Postcode Lottery, more and more will get the support they need to believe in a brighter future.”