A pair of identical twin girls who are in remission from cancer have enjoyed a ‘confidence boosting’ sailing trip thanks to a charity set up by sailor Dame Ellen MacArthur.
Gracie and Megan Garwood, aged 10, of Rougham, enjoyed a four-day yacht adventure with 24 other young people recovering from cancer around the Solent on the south coast.
The pair finished treatment in February 2012 for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) at Addenbrooke’s Hospital after each being diagnosed in the space of about a week in September 2009.
The sailing trip, organised by the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, allowed them to spend some t ime apart on separate yachts so they could each develop their confidence.
Their mum Emma, 44, said: “Being identical everything they do is together. Before they went on the trip we had a conversation about putting them on separate boats and it was a really big thing.
“They so benefitted from having a bit of time away from each other and to be with other children who’ve had similar experiences. When we picked them up they were just buzzing and said ‘we’ve only seen each other twice in four days.”
While both admitted to being nervous before the trip, Gracie said she enjoyed the sailing and being the given the chance to steer the boat. Megan said she ‘made loads of new friends’ and felt ‘comfortable with others who understand what you have been through’.
The trip followed a family holiday to Spain - their first holiday abroad in three years and is part of their journey back to normality.
Mrs Garwood said: “At the school summer holidays we wouldn’t have done half of what we’ve done this summer because of having to stay close to home.
“Our lives did go on hold for probably a couple of years and you don’t appreciate how normality is quite nice.
“It seems like a life-time ago we went through all that.
“They’re doing so well now. In the last couple of years they’ve really come into themselves - especially at school with their learning and confidence. They’re just like normal little 10-year-olds.”
The twins plan to carry on taking part in activities with the Trust, which offers young people, aged eight to 18, who are in recovery from cancer, the chance to rebuild their confidence through sailing.