Kettering cancer survivor Ellie's ocean adventure

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She has been in remission for five years

She battled cancer as a teenager, and now a 21-year-old from Kettering has battled the sea as crew in a world-famous yacht race.

Ellie Waters was just 14 when she was diagnosed with a rare soft tissue cancer – alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma.

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Two years later she set sail with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, a trip she has only just repeated after a break due to Covid.

Ellie Waters from KetteringEllie Waters from Kettering
Ellie Waters from Kettering

She has returned to sail in one of the largest races in the world, accompanying Dame Ellen MacArthur in the Isle of Wight’s Round the Island Race.

Ellie said: “It’s amazing because I haven’t been on a trip for over three years now, I really did miss it. I felt like I was almost at home when I came back as it’s just such a welcoming environment. It’s really nice to catch up with people and do something different that’s out of my comfort zone.”

The 21-year-old who is living through and beyond cancer, admits that not everyone is aware of the challenges faced post-treatment.

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She said: “I’m five years in remission, I’ve had quite a few health problems come up, so it’s nice to come here where you’ve got other young people who’ve had cancer. You can talk to them openly and almost make a laugh about a bad situation. Talking to these people helps me cope as they can really empathise with your struggles.

Ellie Waters at the helmEllie Waters at the helm
Ellie Waters at the helm

"Coming back has made me feel a lot happier in myself. I felt like I was really part of the team helping out during the race. It’s been amazing, I feel a lot more confident now as it was proper sailing with over 1,100 other boats.”

The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust inspires young people aged eight to 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.

After Ellie’s intensive treatment and she has benefitted from the support of the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust.

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She said: “When cancer treatment finishes that’s not it, I don’t think many people are aware of the challenges faced after. It can be harder when you get back into normal life. The years that follow bring new challenges, even if you’re ten years past treatment things still happen.”

Ellie with the crewEllie with the crew
Ellie with the crew

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.

The Trust has been the official charity of the Round the Island Race since 2005, raising over £313,790 to date to help inspire young people to believe in a brighter future living through and beyond cancer.

Dame Ellen MacArthur, the trust’s founder and patron, added: “Every time I sail with the young people I am inspired by their positivity, desire to push themselves and their infectious sense of fun and adventure.

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“The Round the Island Race is such an amazing event to be involved in, and for the young people to be at the centre of the action, enjoying the sights, the spectacle, and the racing, is an experience to remember.”

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