TWO Northern Ireland young people who have been battling cancer were given the chance of a lifetime recently by British sports hero Dame Ellen MacArthur.
Danielle McGriskin, 18, from Lisburn and Craig Lindsay, 20, from Castlereagh took to the high seas with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, a nationwide organisation which aims to rebuild confidence in young people who have suffered from Cancer and Leukaemia through sailing.
Along with 13 other young people in recovery from cancer, Danielle and Craig joined the crews of one of the Trust’s yachts, to sail on the Firth of Clyde in Scotland earlier this month in a four-day yacht adventure.
Danielle was diagnosed with a brain tumour at just 14-years-old and now four years later after multiple operations and treatments she recently got news that it had shrunk by three millimetres.
At 18 Craig discovered a lump in one of his testicles after finding himself with shooting pains. Eventually after a number of tests and misdiagnosis he was finally told he had testicular cancer. Earlier this month he celebrated one year in remission.
Both Danielle and Craig were contacted by their Clic Sargent social worker Simon Darby and offered the chance of a lifetime trip with the Ellen MacArthur Trust earlier this month.
And an excited Danielle took to it like a duck to water.
She said: “I had never been sailing before and have always wanted to give it a go, so I was very excited when Simon told me about the trip. I was looking forward to the sailing and being out in wide open water with the feeling of being free. I was also looking forward to meeting other people my age who have been through this tough journey, and understood what it feels like emotionally and to also talk about our experiences, and most of all just having a good time.
“The Ellen MacArthur Trust have given me a new experience which I am very appreciative off. Sailing is something I have always wanted to do, but never thought it would happen, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust has made this happen for me.”
Despite being reluctant at first, Craig says the trip changed his entire outlook on life.
He explained: “I had expressed issues such as feeling very alone in terms that I felt as if I was the only one who had cancer. Simon recommended the trip to help me meet other cancer victims, and at my own age.
“At first I was reluctant, I’m not going to lie. I was very nervous and to the point that I was considering not wanting to go as I thought it would be quite depressing being surrounded by other cancer victims when all I wanted to do was escape the cancer and leave it behind me.
“It changed my perspective on my position in the world. As crazy as it sounds, it’s true. I felt like as if I was the only one in the world that ever had cancer and singled out which of course I knew wasn’t the case but still felt like it.
“It wasn’t until towards the end of my trip I realised the importance of the sailing. When I was sailing I looked back to where I had came from and realised how far I had came, then it hit me, it’s just like my cancer.
“I hadn’t realised till after my journey, when I looked back and realised how far I had come. So just like the sailing, you are living in the moment and don’t realise the distance you have made be it land or from an illness. To me it was like an epiphany.”