Natalie’s Story

05 November 2010

At Sail 4 Cancer we come into contact with so many special, brave and inspiring people, and a lady called Natalie is no exception to this. She first contacted Sail 4 Cancer a few years ago to nominate a friend of hers with three small children who was terminally ill. This family of five went on an amazing week’s holiday with Sail 4 Cancer, then sadly Natalie emailed shortly after the holiday to say that her dear friend had passed away, but that her friend’s family felt how much their first ‘real family holiday had made a massive impact on their lives.

Natalie had already beaten cancer twice herself and as a nursing lecturer had spent several years using her experiences in battling cancer as a basis for her teaching of cancer care and in her support of other cancer patients. Her third diagnosis of cancer however came early in 2009 and was a terrible blow for her, her husband and her two teenage daughters. Ironically the breast cancer now diagnosed in her early forties was a direct result of the radiotherapy that she underwent in her twenties and thirties for Hodgkins Lymphoma.

At that time her youngest daughter was due to take her GCSEs in the coming months so when Natalie received her diagnosis she resolved to set a good example by continuing to work on her PhD during her treatment and to live as full and active a life as possible despite her mastectomy and ongoing chemotherapy.

When Sail 4 Cancer heard their story, it became obvious that Natalie and her family would really benefit from a respite holiday, giving them something to look forward to through their ordeal.

Natalie explains:

“I felt so fragile after my diagnosis of cancer for the third time… It made such a difference through my treatment knowing that as a family we had this wonderful holiday together”.

The holiday in Greece had something for all the family. Natalie made the most of all the activities on offer including 7.30am runs. She even had a rather tentative go at water-skiing just nine weeks after her mastectomy! The girls thoroughly enjoyed waterskiing and wakeboarding, whilst her husband achieved his level 1 dinghy sailing certificate. Natalie jokes about her different wigs for watersports and for going out and thinks she confused some fellow guests with her variety of hairstyles.

Natalie went on to say:

“The holiday was the perfect way to make up for all that the cancer took from us as a family.”

A cancer diagnosis affects not just the individual but their whole family. Everyone has their fears and worries but will often try to hide them from everyone else. Then watching a loved one going through treatment can also be extremely painful.

Natalie added:

“The week on holiday gave us the opportunity to catch up on having fun together, to have some adventures and to not think once about cancer; this time away restored a sense of balance to our family life.”

Natalie says she is now feeling “whole again” and has returned to work full time. Keen to pass on her learning and experiences to others, she has put together a short but incredibly powerful video about her experiences.

You can see it by clicking here >

Natalie’s Story
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