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Posts Tagged ‘cancer’

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What is it about sailing that allows people from so many different backgrounds to benefit in such fundamental ways just by getting on a boat and pulling a piece of fabric up?  Is the noise of the wind and the sea channeled straight to your brain?  Do the motion of waves somehow repairs neurons?  Whatever it is, and despite the world’s perception of sailing as something for old Thurston and his billionaire pals to enjoy, there seem to be new programs popping up – and really helping people of all walks every single day.

Now’s as good as any to give thanks and praise to the Ellen Macarthur Sailing Trust, which for nearly 15 years has been bringing sunshine, breeze, and the motion of the ocean to teenage cancer patients and cancer survivors all over Britain.

More than 125 young people recovering from cancer just completed a round-Britain sailing challenge run by Dame Ellen, with new sailors aged 10 to 30 visiting 58 towns and cities in the UK over 17 relay legs.  Cool stuff and read more about that one here.

If there’s one thing that destroys even more lives and families than cancer, it’s drug addiction, and deaths from overdoses are rising in the USA at a rate never seen before – an incredible 65,000 people will die this year in America alone!  An Irish rehab community is incorporating sailing into their addiction recovery program with the help of Cork-based Sailing Into Wellness, and the success they’re having with addiction patients is so promising that other pilot programs around Ireland and the UK are launching soon.

With most of the death increase coming from Ohio, Maryland, Florida, and Maine, maybe it’s time to ask the water for its help?

September 25th, 2017 by admin

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Many in the sailing community know Billy Black from his work as a photographer in the marine industry. You may have seen his boat at regattas, seen his pictures in magazines, or if you are really lucky, had the chance to spend time with a man who turns every shared moment into some of the best moments you can remember.

What folks might not be aware of is that Billy Black had a fight with ocular lymphoma in 2013 that spread to his brain this past December. By May he had successfully achieved remission and since this type of cancer has a high relapse rate, the recommended course of action is to get a stem cell transplant following remission. He completed that treatment but the doctors say it will be a year before he recovers his previous energy and endurance. The prognosis looks good and over the past month or so he has been getting back on the water and resuming his work, which is fantastic news.

His insurance policy covered most of what was a very expensive treatment. The reality, however, is that he has been out of commission for over 6 months and as a result he had to cancel scheduled work, could not take new bookings, and had no revenue coming in. He and Joyce also incurred significant out-of-pocket expenses related to his treatment that were not covered by insurance and they had to dig into the savings they had put aside, spending a little over $100,000.

Those funds had been earmarked to purchase a replacement for the Silver Locomotive. You may have seen Billy towing his photo boat with this van, kitted out to serve as his home while he was on the road up and down the east coast traveling to shoot all of us on the water. The current vehicle has 350,000 miles on the odometer and is on borrowed time.

To know Billy is to love him. He is the nicest guy in the marine community, and someone who certainly makes me want to be a better person. He is generous with his time, his knowledge, his smile and his art. I know there are people who would like to help he and Joyce out, so Tristan Mouligne and I have organized an effort to pass the hat around. We have set up a joint account in Billy and Joyce’s name, and hope that folks in the community can join us in helping Billy bounce back from this challenge. A gift in any amount will help us put Billy back on the road and back on the water. If anyone would like to give, it’s simple:

For maximum benefit to Billy, make out a check to Billy and Joyce Black and mail it to the following address:

Morgan Stanley
C/O Tristan Mouligne
53 State Street
Boston, MA 02210

Tristan will take care of the details of getting it credited to Billy and Joyce’s account, and I will send out periodic updates of the progress.  If you would like to support Billy with an online gift, please go to with your credit card.  It’s free to you.

Thanks so much for considering a gift. I know that Billy really appreciates all the support he has been shown by his friends throughout this challenge. If you want to get in touch with him directly, his email is [email protected]. He has been much more active on social media and email as he has recovered from his stem cell transplant, and I am sure he would love to hear from you.

Best Regards,

Michael Hennessey, Skipper


August 21st, 2017 by admin

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Jennifer Hinkel shows that sailor chicks can inspire without dominating race results or wearing a bikini.  For bravely sharing her own story of how sailing helped her get past cancer, she’s Sailing Anarchy’s Sailor Chick of the Week.  Want to tell Jennifer (a/k/a Wingonwing) how sailing changed or saved your life?  Do it in the thread. And read all about Jennifer’s story below, ripped from Medium.

Sailing and Cancer are not words found often in the same sentence. In fact, my “cancer life” and my “sailing life” were so contradictory that they seemed to never overlap — hence the beauty of putting the two together and founding a competitive sailing program for cancer survivors.

I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma at 17. I’m lucky in that Hodgkins is considered more curable than many other malignancies, especially if it is diagnosed before it has spread to the bone marrow. My cancer was treated with surgery and six months of chemotherapy; I had to delay college by a year, which I now jokingly call my “gap year independent study in the oncology experience.” In reality, I spent a good part of that year in bed, clinging precariously to life, seriously underweight, completely bald, and vomiting frequently.

When I finished chemotherapy and was declared free of cancer, my mom and dad planned a family sailing trip to the British Virgin Islands. Although it wasn’t my first time on a sailboat, it was the first time that I became truly interested in sailing as a sport. I found great solace in harnessing the wind for speed. In short, I soon discovered that while I had been successfully treated for cancer, I had caught another disease which has no cure — the “sailing bug”. That trip to the Caribbean was the start of a journey that would guide me, year by year, more seriously into the sport of sailing, from that first cruising experience through getting my charter skipper certifications, learning to race, participating in regattas in the US and Europe, and eventually buying my own boat and skippering a race team.

Evolution of a Sailor: On that first sailing trip to the BVI (left), shortly after finishing chemo, with my hair just beginning to grow back, and (right) in the fall of 2013, as skipper of my own racing boat.

Many sailors claim that sailing keeps them sane. The positive impacts of sailing on mental health may be more literal than most believe; people often get “in the zone” when sailing or into what is scientifically called a “flow state”. In a flow state, focus and concentration are at their peak, to the point where a person loses feelings of self-consciousness, self-doubt, anxiety, and even physical discomfort. Repeatedly getting into flow states can help us become vastly happier, more productive, and mindful.

Cancer survivors often deal with significant after-effects of surgical, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments. These effects can be physical in nature, including fatigue, pain, and neuropathy, as well as emotional, such as the fear of cancer recurrence and survivor’s guilt. These detrimental physical and emotional after-effects can hold people back from moving on from cancer and reclaiming their health and their lives. Many cancer survivors feel isolated, lonely, and as if they are looking for a new purpose in life. Forging a connection between sailing and cancer survivors starts to make infinite sense when you think about the healing effects of being in a flow state.

These same issues that cancer survivors face can be mediated by the experience of flow, and flow can be found in sailing. Sailing is also a sport that doesn’t require a high level of fitness to get started in, but can hugely improve physical ability, strength, and flexibility over time. Sailing is a team sport and has a welcoming global community; it’s difficult to feel lonely once you begin to meet fellow sailors. It’s possible to enjoy sailing as long as you live, and it can provide new, exciting goals or opportunities to pursue, whether it is cruising, racing, ocean crossing, or simply mastering new positions on the crew.

For me, sailing was a major factor in helping me find beauty and passion in my life after going through one of the worst and most terrifying experiences that a person can face. Through time spent on the sea, I’ve come to realize that we are limitless beings, able to cross oceans, harness the elements, travel in harmony with nature, and help each other push the boundaries beyond what we had ever thought was possible. I want to bring this passion to survivors who may be feeling limited by their experience with cancer and help them rediscover that the only limits are the ones we place on ourselves.

I chose the name Resilience Racing for this team because we all have our own stories of resilience. Life is a series of small changes and evolutions that often mean reinventing ourselves, overcoming adversity, and making a comeback. Cancer survivors understand the essence of resilience; most sailors do as well. I believe that through Resilience Racing, we can prove that we have not been limited by cancer and what it put us through, but instead that we are, as the great French sailor Florence Arthaud would say, “living to the limit”.

To learn more about Resilience Racing and Jennifer Hinkel, go here.  To contribute to team, here.

May 9th, 2015 by admin

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This one came in from longtime anarchist and President of the Victoria Moth Class Richard Jackson.  Nice one, Jacko – learn more about this excellent charity here.

I am writing you this short email to share something really cool with your readers. I was moth sailing off my home club at Mount Martha on Port Phillip Bay when a saw a massive fleet of kites coming down the bay. I went out a long way to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me and got in amongst 100+ kite boarders flying down from Rosebud to Port Melbourne! It was truly one of the coolest things I’ve ever done on a boat.  I went with them until the beach I left from was almost a speck on the shore and decided the wife won’t want a call from Melbourne telling her to come get me.

When I got home, I found the Across The Bay For Cancer page [which is loaded with great pics and reports -ed] and saw this video; it’s amazingly compelling, a great cause, and the group is really accomplishing something special.  I hope to great a moth fleet to involved next year, but in the meantime, enjoy the video.


February 13th, 2015 by admin

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Question of the Week

I have metastisized kidney cancer, recently found, and am in my first round of “targeted therapy”.  As much as this sucks, I’m determined to keep my sailing projects going.  What I’m looking for is Anarchists who may be in similar straits, and your methods of coping.  What are your sailing “bucket lists” and are you getting them done before you’re done?

Since I’m posting this in SA, and have kind of a twisted sense of humor, any gallows humors is welcome.  I’m not interested in goopy sympathy, or how (insert religion or belief here) can help me.  I am interested in remission, but since the physical form of that isn’t guaranteed, am in the process of “remissioning” my life, and sailing will be a large part of that.

Thanks in advance.

Don’t plan, do.


January 21st, 2014 by admin