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Teenage cancer survivors get post-lockdown lift with Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust

Two teenage cancer survivors treated at Cardiff Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital admit their diagnosis changed their life in a ‘better way’ after enjoying five days of gorge walking, high ropes, canoeing, campfires and much more with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust last week (02-06 August).

14-year-old Mia Llyod from Ceredigion had her left leg amputated above the knee after discovering she had osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer in her left thigh when she was 10. She found a common bond and developed a strong friendship with 15-year-old Amelie Kessels from Narberth, who was treated for a brain tumour, aged 11.

The teenage girls from Wales were among 25 young people living through and beyond cancer from across the UK that spent last week at Longtown Outdoor Centre in Hereford, 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.

After sailing with the Trust for the first time in 2019, returning on a trip this summer gave Mia and Amelie a focus and something to look forward to.

Mia said: “I’ve really missed it, I was looking forward to going on a trip last year, but we couldn’t so it’s just really nice to see everyone again. It made a big difference because schools been very stressful lately, especially in lockdown.”

Amelie added: “I was doing some of my GCSEs online which was difficult. It was getting hard without any friends in lockdown, so this was something exciting to look forward to.”

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’.

After having her leg amputated Mia said: “I was quite nervous about going on the trip, but it was really fun. I had to learn to walk and run again but it has changed my life in a better way, in a way.”

With Amelie by her side and the encouragement of the Trust, Mia got involved in all the activities last week and said: “It was really good fun.” The support of the charity inspires young people like Amelie and Mia to believe in a brighter future as they feel valued, accepted, optimistic and independent.

This year Children in Need generously provided funding for young people aged 8 – 17 to attend regional Taste of the Trust days as well as supporting return trip activity for young people residing in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.