Cancer survivor from Ivybridge sets sail towards a brighter future

Chris Dunkin sailing

A 24-year-old from Ivybridge, who is living through and beyond cancer, admits feeling “recharged” after enjoying four days sailing with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust from the Isle of Wight last week.

Paramedic for the South Western Ambulance service, Christopher Dunkin was 23 when he was diagnosed with Malignant melanoma a type of skin cancer on his arm which metastasized to his lymphatic system and was removed by surgery.

Christopher Dunkin

He said: “I’m a lot more aware now of what people have to go through, it’s given me more of an understanding having gone through the other side of things so I feel very humbled.”

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.

Christopher was among 21 young people who spent last week sailing on the Solent. He said: “This week has been amazing and had a really positive impact on me. It’s been great to have this experience of sailing. I’ve learnt loads of new skills and enjoyed spending time with like-minded people.

“The treatment process really knocks you so it’s good to have charities like this that offer support after. It’s really empowering and helps you understand you’re not alone.”

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’.

The young people are inspired to believe in a brighter future as they feel accepted, independent, and optimistic. 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.

Christopher said: “It’s really empowering to know there’s other people who are literally in the same boat as you. Being able to support each other is invaluable. The Trust brings us together and shows us we can do big things with our lives.”

Dame Ellen MacArthur, the Trust’s founder and patron, concludes: “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 wellbeing of young people living through and beyond cancer. Thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery, more and more will get the support they need to believe in a brighter future.”

The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust was founded by the record-breaking round-the-world yachtswoman in 2003. It is there for anyone who is struggling or could simply do with a bit of support, however long off treatment they are. Visit ellenmacarthurcancertrust.org or follow @emctrust on social media.

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