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Old 18-10-2020, 14:47   #1
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Sailing with cancer

I have sailed dinghies all my life and chartered yachts for my holidays. My dream was always to have my own yacht as soon as I retired from a busy and hectic career and spend time exploring the Eastern Mediterranean. Now, in my early 60s, I was nearly at the point of achieving my goal. However, this summer I received a diagnosis of myeloma - an incurable but treatable cancer. At the moment I am undergoing treatment and hope that the disease will go into remission. I am wondering if anybody on this forum has any experience of this condition and how it affected their sailing activities. Has my dream gone forever?
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Old 18-10-2020, 14:53   #2
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Re: Sailing with cancer

I believe that Francis Chichester was diagnosed terminal lung cancer he continued sailing and won first single handed transat race.
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Old 18-10-2020, 15:00   #3
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Re: Sailing with cancer

are you running your life? or are some errant cells?

You choose
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Old 18-10-2020, 15:38   #4
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Re: Sailing with cancer

You can stare at four walls or get on with life and do the things you want to do. The choice is yours. You may need to adjust plans to cater for treatment but other than that, just do it!
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Old 18-10-2020, 16:05   #5
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Re: Sailing with cancer

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Originally Posted by Reefmagnet View Post
You can stare at four walls or get on with life and do the things you want to do. The choice is yours. You may need to adjust plans to cater for treatment but other than that, just do it!

I second that, get on with life and enjoy.
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Old 18-10-2020, 16:38   #6
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Re: Sailing with cancer

For what it’s worth, I’m 61, and I have had Prostate cancer, DVTs a PE, atrial fibrillation that in time caused congestive heart failure, circumstances have tried to kill me a couple of times now, but as a close family member said to me, you can die at home too. So me and my awesome wife decided to go cruising anyway, that was two plus years ago. I would recommend as you are able to, continue on with your ambitions. We have cruising friends that the husband has had a substantial bout with Melanoma and he has continued onward doing his due diligence. Its scary stuff when something like what you are experiencing happens, do your homework and do what you can to live the life you want to live, Positive thoughts coming at you from us on the sailing vessel Pegu Club,

Fair winds,
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Old 18-10-2020, 21:26   #7
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Re: Sailing with cancer

I agree with most of what has been said. I am 61..and lost a great deal of vision in one eye as a result of a retinal detachment. My biggest fear is that I might be sailing and not have a enough time to save my other eye should the same occur. I stopped thinking about and I am not going to allow that fear stop me from doing what I want to do with the little time I have left.
I have been through many losses in my life and sold my first sailboat as I lost my passion. Seven years later I recently bought another sailboat knowing that I wasn;t getting any younger and my time was finite.
I am a physician and not ignorant of the risk I will be taking should I sail, say to Alaska.
But I do believe in someone greater than me....it is in Gods hands .
Work around your illness... do not be foolish ...but enjoy your life.

Best..

Abe
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Old 19-10-2020, 11:31   #8
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Re: Sailing with cancer

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Originally Posted by Wild Idle View Post
I have sailed dinghies all my life and chartered yachts for my holidays. My dream was always to have my own yacht as soon as I retired from a busy and hectic career and spend time exploring the Eastern Mediterranean. Now, in my early 60s, I was nearly at the point of achieving my goal. However, this summer I received a diagnosis of myeloma - an incurable but treatable cancer. At the moment I am undergoing treatment and hope that the disease will go into remission. I am wondering if anybody on this forum has any experience of this condition and how it affected their sailing activities. Has my dream gone forever?
My mom has had multiple myeloma for ~10 years, which is what I think you mean? and based on my experience related to that, I would say it depends on a number of factors:

1. How well you respond to treatment.
2. What type of treatment it is. (Itís a lot easier to travel on oral chemo meds than if you need injections or IVs at a clinic every week or so.)
3. What symptoms you have and how they interact with your desired activities. For example, my momís primary issue has always been she gets infections easily, especially skin infections. Other people with MM have more bone involvement, which puts them at increased risk of breaking things. Neither of these mean you absolutely canít do stuff, just that you need to make a plan to minimize risk and to promptly deal with problems if they come up.

All that said, assuming the treatment itself allows for it, thereís likely no reason why you canít do SOME version of your dream, once youíve gotten your treatment dialed in and are responding well. (And there are a number of pretty good treatments now, so chances are good of finding something that you will respond well to.) You just may need to make certain allowances like being able to fly back easily for treatments on schedule, or with my mom sheís meant to be within 2-3 hours of a major medical facility so she can start IV antibiotics promptly if needed. (She has a lot of antibiotic allergies, so someone else may have more oral options where a supply could be easily kept on board to start while heading in to get to a hospital.) Or in the case of bone involvement, perhaps a catamaran instead of a monohull so thereís less risk of falling, that sort of thing.

Youíll also likely need to do a bit more work in being prepared/planning - for example when on chemo you can be more at risk of getting quite ill from things like food poisoning, so youíll want to be extra careful with provisioning and water supply. (My mom has been told not to drink well water, for example, as it can have levels of bacteria that are fine for health people but will make her sick.) Youíll likely also need regular blood tests even if you go into remission and donít need active treatment, just to keep an eye on things, so you may want to make arrangements to do that near where you will be cruising, those sorts of things. Also, at least while you are figuring out how the cancer behaves for you, Iíd be conservative - shorter cruises, see/contact your doctor if anything seems even possibly wrong, etc. Multiple Myeloma often doesnít get you directly, usually itís something like an infection or other complication, and things can progress more rapidly than normal because MM can make your immune system not work properly, so you generally donít want to wait and see too long before seeking medical advice. (Again, how it presents varies from person to person, so you should get some idea of in which areas you need to be more cautious after having it for a bit, and can then adapt your plans accordingly.)

Unrelated to cruising directly, but ask your doctor about risk of clotting - both the cancer and the treatments can increase your risk of clotting, but it isnít super well known yet, so many doctors donít consider that aspect. But it may be wise for you to be on some kind of anticoagulation program, even if just daily baby aspirin, to help prevent DVTs and so on, depending on how your version of the cancer behaves. (My mom ended up in the hospital because of this with clots in her lungs, so we try to mention it now so other people know BEFORE they end up with a several day ICU stay. Sheís on anticoagulant injections daily now.)

Short version: Once you give yourself some time to get treatment dialed in and figure out exactly how the cancer behaves in you, you have a good chance of being able to do some type of cruising, though the precise vessel and length of time you can safely spend in more remote areas may differ from your original dream due to treatment/side effects/medical access needs.

Someone in my momís support group was able to go mountain climbing on some relatively serious peak, though I canít remember which one. (Not Everest, Iíd remember that.) It just took getting the right treatment in place and then having some plans in place for if she had extra problems, like making sure the right medications would be available and that sort of thing.

Now youíre going to say itís some other type of cancer entirely. Though I expect for many the answer is quite similar in terms of just needing to adapt plans a bit but not give them up entirely.
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Old 20-10-2020, 03:46   #9
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Re: Sailing with cancer

Many thanks to everybody for your encouragement! An unexpected and unwelcome diagnosis of multiple myeloma has, as you can imagine, turned my world upside down, but it is what it is, and now I have to make the best of things. It is a motivating to know that so many others are pursuing their dreams and not letting medical difficulties get in the way. Thank you Pirate Foxy for sharing your motherís experiences in such detail - she sounds inspirational. For myself, I believe that I may well have had MM for a couple of years before it was picked up. I thought I just had hip pains as a result of an sporting younger life, but now I realise it was the disease attacking the bones. It has already done some damage, reducing both my flexibility and mobility. My enduring love has always been for monohulls, but I have sailed catamarans frequently in the Caribbean, and maybe they would provide a more stable and predictable platform for me. It is still early days with this condition and being in the midst of a round of chemo cycles is probably not the best time to making decisions! There is much to think about. Spring is not too far distant and hopefully next year will see us all be able to resume some semblance of normality. Thank you all.https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...lies/smile.gif
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Old 20-10-2020, 17:13   #10
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Re: Sailing with cancer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wild Idle View Post
I have sailed dinghies all my life and chartered yachts for my holidays. My dream was always to have my own yacht as soon as I retired from a busy and hectic career and spend time exploring the Eastern Mediterranean. Now, in my early 60s, I was nearly at the point of achieving my goal. However, this summer I received a diagnosis of myeloma - an incurable but treatable cancer. At the moment I am undergoing treatment and hope that the disease will go into remission. I am wondering if anybody on this forum has any experience of this condition and how it affected their sailing activities. Has my dream gone forever?
It’s been five years since I was diagnosed with light chain myeloma. Once I understood the disease and had a handle on what treatment would entail, I took the plunge and purchased a 44’ monohull.

I made the decision based on what felt right for me, and didn’t rely on external input. While my sailing adventures are abbreviated, and not as grand as once envisioned, it has been very rewarding and fulfilling experience.

Should you decide to pursue a purchase, i would encourage you to buy something with a furling main, and electric winches. You will find your physical strength challenged. That said, I primarily solo sail so dont be too alarmed by my recommendation. I also find myself having the boat yard do all the maintenance, I mean everything. So have a healthy checkbook too.

I wish you well with your treatment and your dreams.
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Old 20-10-2020, 17:41   #11
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Re: Sailing with cancer

Do what you can as long as you can.
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Old 20-10-2020, 18:19   #12
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Re: Sailing with cancer

I think you should carry-on as long as you feel well enough to do so. Good luck with your battle. Sending positive vibes your way.
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Old 20-10-2020, 22:01   #13
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Re: Sailing with cancer

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Originally Posted by capecodboat View Post
Itís been five years since I was diagnosed with light chain myeloma. Once I understood the disease and had a handle on what treatment would entail, I took the plunge and purchased a 44í monohull.

I made the decision based on what felt right for me, and didnít rely on external input. While my sailing adventures are abbreviated, and not as grand as once envisioned, it has been very rewarding and fulfilling experience.

Should you decide to pursue a purchase, i would encourage you to buy something with a furling main, and electric winches. You will find your physical strength challenged. That said, I primarily solo sail so dont be too alarmed by my recommendation. I also find myself having the boat yard do all the maintenance, I mean everything. So have a healthy checkbook too.

I wish you well with your treatment and your dreams.
I agree with this - having cancer can be exhausting, emotionally and physically, so you want to arm yourself with tools that allow you to have fewer ďIím too worn out to do thatĒ days, which means both using technology to your advantage and also using other people to save yourself for the fun stuff.

Also, youíll want to check with your oncologist or an infectious disease doctor, there may be tasks you SHOULDNíT do (or at least not without a very good mask) due to infection risk from bacteria/mold/etc. Like I have a not-right immune system for entirely other reasons, but thereís a particular fungus in the soil in my area that gets in your lungs and is quite nasty, so Iím no longer allowed to garden or be around situations with a lot of dust in the air like construction sites, because I am at much higher risk of the fungus taking hold. Though from the top of my head I suspect most of the jobs on a boat where there would be a real issue are things you could hire someone else to do, like cleaning out the bilge or changing a toilet. (Birds are also a good infection vector so youíll want to use care when cleaning up bird droppings.)

Wild, if you have any specific questions please feel free to private message me here on the forum - my mom is staying with us during Covid so if I donít know an answer I can see if she does quite easily.

Again, I definitely wouldnít feel like this means youíre doomed to never adventure again. Itís just like having a kid with you or not - you have to make certain allowances and do things a bit different than you might do otherwise, but there are plenty of people running around having all kinds of adventures with kids in tow.
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