Young Hitchin cancer survivor sails into better future with Ellen MacArthur Trust

PUBLISHED: 07:02 20 September 2019

15 year-old Jemma was diagnosed with osteosarcoma when she was 11. Picture: Ellen MacArthur Trust

15 year-old Jemma was diagnosed with osteosarcoma when she was 11. Picture: Ellen MacArthur Trust

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A young cancer survivor from Hitchin has spoken of how her confidence has been boosted after sailing with a children's cancer charity.

Jemma sailed with the trust for the third time this summer. Picture: Ellen MacArthur TrustJemma sailed with the trust for the third time this summer. Picture: Ellen MacArthur Trust

Jemma Marlow, who is in recovery from osteosarcoma, sailed with the Ellen MacArthur Trust for the third time this summer and hopes to return on future trips.

The charity trust takes young cancer survivors between ages eight and 24 on four-day sailing trips to help rebuild confidence and self-esteem after spending much of their childhood in hospital.

Jemma says the trips have helped her "make new friends", and "feel more motivated in all aspects of life".

Young people are invited to take part in yacht journeys in the Solent, on the south coast of England, or on the Firth of Clyde in Scotland, during the summer.

Young people are invited back every summer until they are 24. Picture: Ellen MacArthur TrustYoung people are invited back every summer until they are 24. Picture: Ellen MacArthur Trust

The charity trust aims to build relationships with brave youngsters who have battled cancer during their school years - while also learning a practical skill.

Jemma, 15, who goes to Hitchin Girls' School, said: "The trips have been brilliant at improving my view of myself and helping me relate to people with similar experiences.

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"They are a break from normality and a great way to have fun while learning new skills."

Young people are invited back every summer until they are 24. Picture: Ellen MacArthur TrustYoung people are invited back every summer until they are 24. Picture: Ellen MacArthur Trust

Jemma's mum, Helen, hails her daughter as an "amazing girl" after she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma - a rare bone cancer - when she was 11.

"The charity trust is brilliant at helping kids make connections with others' who have had these horrible illnesses," Helen said.

"And for Jemma, who was receiving treatment while dealing with the stresses of joining a new school, this felt even more important."

As part of her treatment, Jemma had the lower half of her femur removed and was fitted with metal prosthetics. This meant that she couldn't run, jump or play sports.

Her mum says this made the sailing trips with the Ellen MacArthur Trust all the more valuable, and have "given her the chance to get outdoors and take up a new interest".

Jemma now sails in her spare-time, and is also passionate about horse-riding, competing in RDA dressage at a national level.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, recognised each year by childhood cancer charities which aim to raise funds and awareness of the impact cancer has on young lives.

You can show support by taking part in the Gold Ribbon appeal, organised by Children with Cancer UK, and engage on social media with the hashtag #WearTheRibbon

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