Young Cancer survivor from Whitechapel gets post-lockdown lift with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust


A 26-year-old residing in London, who is living through and beyond cancer, admits “being on the water with so much space is nice.” after enjoying five days of sailing on the Solent with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust last week (13-16 September).

Luke Coffey was first treated for thyroid cancer when he was 22, a year later he was sadly diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He was among 9 young people from across the UK that spent last week sailing from the Isle of Wight, as the Trust gets back to bringing young people together, having been off the water in 2020.

The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust inspires young people aged 8-24 to believe in a brighter future living through and beyond cancer. For many young people, picking up where they left off before their diagnosis isn’t possible. So, when treatment ends, the Trust’s work begins.

The isolation, loneliness and anxiety experienced by young people with cancer has been massively amplified by COVID and lockdown. That is why they need the Trust more than ever right now.

Luke first sailed with the Trust in 2019. He explains: “I was pretty fresh out of treatment when I came on my first trip, and I hadn’t really spoken about it. I hadn’t even told some of my family members, so it was like the first time I had properly spoken about it, and it was so nice. It wasn’t even massive deep conversations just like mentioning it. It made me realise it’s okay to show vulnerability and to admit that you struggled with some aspects of it.”

Through the Trust’s sailing and outdoor activities, young people meet others who have had similar experiences – often for the first time, rediscover independence away from home, experience an increased sense of purpose and self-worth, and begin to realise what they are capable of again. Most importantly they stop feeling like the ‘only one’.

The young people are inspired to believe in a brighter future as they feel valued, accepted, optimistic and independent. They can start to re-establish their place in the world by getting back into education or employment and reconnecting with their friends and families.