In May 2020, at the age of 34, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Bowel Cancer. My son, Henry, was just six months old and my daughter, Hannah, was three-and-a-half. It was a hideous time for the whole family, as I went through several frightening hospital admissions, chemo/radiotherapy and a huge operation, as well as an unbelievable amount of stress and uncertainty. I was very, very lucky as my treatment appears to have been really successful; I got a call on New Year’s Eve 2020 to say that I was in complete remission (which means there is no longer any evidence of cancer in my body). I now live with a permanent colostomy. I have spent the last year recovering from surgery, getting used to my new body and re-adjusting to life post-cancer.
In the summer, I was extremely fortunate to get a place on a cancer recovery retreat with SeaChange Retreats CIC (https://seachangeretreats.org/) in Newquay. They provide surfing, yoga and wellbeing retreats for people who are living with or recovering from cancer, as well as those who care for someone affected by it. It was absolutely incredible to do something so positive and full of joy again after a year of fear and pain; to take time for myself again, having gone straight back into the crazy whirlwind that is motherhood; and to chat, laugh and shed tears with an awesome group of strangers with whom I had so much in common.
So, to mark one year in complete remission, and to celebrate being alive and healthy, I’m aiming to swim a total of 1,000 laps of Chapel Rock tidal pool in Perranporth during January and February – in just my cossie! – to raise money for SeaChange Retreats CIC. My original goal was £360, which would cover the cost of one person’s place on a weekend retreat. My dream target was £2,880, which would pay for a weekend retreat for a group of eight. But as we’ve already exceeded that, and as I’ve been hearing about the crazy costs behind organising the retreats, I’ve decided to up that goal to £5,000! I’d love to help more people affected by cancer experience the empowering, healing, exhilarating, liberating force of surfing. I’m also doing it to say thanks to Helen, Dannie and Bhavna, the amazing SeaChange team who put their heart and soul into something that has made such a difference to our lives, and also in tribute to the seven incredible souls who braved the waves with me last summer and have now become my cancer-butt-kicking tribe.
To keep up to date with my swims, or to join me on one (whether in the pool or just as moral support from the sidelines) you can check my instagram posts here: https://www.instagram.com/theseaandme_/