Sail 4 Cancer
Sail 4 Cancer is a charity that was established in 2001 with the primary aim of providing water based respite days and holidays for families affected by cancer. Sail 4 Cancer aims to provide these families with the chance to rebuild relationships, create positive memories and have quality fun together.
As a family, we did all that we could to take Neil away from the constant reminder of cancer. We did this ourselves by organising weekends and trips away but we were always very grateful when we had offers from various charities that were looking to provide just what we wanted.
Sail 4 Cancer kindly provided a weekend break to Center Parcs at Longleat for a pre Christmas break. When it was offered back in the summer of 2014, we were given a date of the 19th December to look forward to. The timing of the weekend could not have been more ideal. As the weekend approached we were unsure whether Neil would be well enough to go away, as he had been admitted to the Teenage And Young Adult Cancer Unit in Bristol on December 3rd, due to a worsening of his symptons. However it gave Neil something to look forward to. Despite being unwell, with Neil's determination we set off as planned! Neil was very excited to have the opportunity of leaving the hospital for a weekend, especially as we had planned one of Neil's usual fancy dress themed nights, this time based on the film Home Alone!
With it being a pre Christmas break, there naturally had to be a Christmas tree and with all hands on deck to get everything ready, including the food for a roast, by the time Neil arrived, it was starting to have a very festive feeling. The lodge was amazing! It was specially adapted for wheelchair users, and with Neil now confined to his wheelchair this made it very comfortable for him. Neil had his own bedroom with a hospital style bed and even had an ensuite wetroom just for him! Also in the lodge was a games room complete with pool table and of course we had our usual games that were always present at our weekends away! The games room had large lazy boy bean bags which we got Neil in to so he could feel something other than his bed or wheelchair. He loved it! One of the main attractions though was the hoist for the hot tub. This meant that Neil could join us all in the hot tub which was a real treat. It had been a year since we were all in the hot tub together at our previous Christmas break and it was so nice to be able to see Neil achieve this once again. He always loved hot tubs and would have frequented the ones at his gym many a time so this really was the escape that Neil needed and that Sail 4 Cancer had aimed to provide.
After the tour of the lodge, Neil got fully involved in the tree decorating, as he always had done at every Christmas. It was now time for the fun to start and we sat down as a family to have a Christmas Roast! Having been in hopsital for several weeks and with the prospect of being in hospital for weeks to come, it was incredible to spend time togther as a family away from that environment.
Center Parcs provided a special taxi service to get Neil around the site, which was a great help. There was also the train which we enjoyed a journey to the The Grand Cafe on for lunch! Neil had been planning where he wanted to eat for some time, so we had pencilled in the Pancake House, an American Diner, a special Christmas meal with all the trimmings back at The Grand Cafe and managed to eat at them all!
There was a spectacular firework display which we all enjoyed as we were exceptionally close (it was only after we realsied we were probably a bit too close!). It made for a very impressive and loud display though!
Neil had come up with the idea previosuly of having a fancy dress competition and with the opportunity of having a Christmas break, Neil decided this year it was going to be Home Alone themed! Home Alone has always been a popular film amongst the family and we even watched it before dressing up to make sure we were all in the mood. No one knew who each other's character was which led to surprises all round and the fancy dress competition was a great success! Neil won of course but can you guess his character?!
We can't thank Sail 4 Cancer enough for arranging this incredible weekend for Neil and the family, the special memories from which, we will treasure forever. It really did provide a break away and although it was very sad to go back to hospital, we could at least take our memories with us. Neil was able to busy himself showing all of his nurses the great time he had had with the photos on his phone! We as a family have seen first hand how important special times like this are and because of Neil, we will offer similar opportunities to young cancer sufferers and their families through Neil's charity.
If you would like to find out more about Sail 4 Cancer, please click here.