Carl and Catriona from Staffordshire have recently returned from a wonderful cruise courtesy of Fred Olsen and Sail 4 Cancer. Carl had nominated his wife Catriona for a week’s cruise together to:

“Bring a smile back to her face, as she has gone through so much sadness.”

Carl’s story began with a pulled calf muscle which didn’t seem to heal. Followed by a catalogue of misdiagnosis and delays, the end result was that Carl’s tumour was finally correctly diagnosed – a very rare soft tissue sarcoma. Sadly, they were too late to save his leg. After amputation above the knee and a gruelling round of chemotherapy, operations and illness came the truly devastating news that the cancer had spread to his lungs.  Despite subsequent operations to remove the tumours, they keep on recurring.

This recurrence says Carl was:

“A massive blow to me but more for my wife and family. The heartache and stress caused by all that’s going on is unbearable but we try to stay positive.”

Once Carl had heard that his nomination was successful, he and Catriona chose the 7 night ‘Classic Norway’ cruise, taking in fjords, glaciers, waterfalls, markets and mountain railways. His report of their trip is ecstatic.

“What can I say? I’m speechless, what a fantastic break and wow the scenery was breathtaking, the best I have ever seen!”

The couple made the most of every opportunity, exploring the historic town of Bergen, with its timber clad buildings in wild and vibrant colours.  They took a trip to a glacier and described hearing it move as “quite eerie”. They also enjoyed a mountain railway ride up really steep inclines, through hand dug tunnels and past a number of thundering waterfalls.

Probably the most important factor however was that it made them feel ‘normal’ for a change – something that many 4 Cancer beneficiaries comment on. Once you have a cancer diagnosis suddenly everyone treats you differently and life is irrevocably altered somehow, especially in a situation like Carl’s, where everything moved so rapidly from an everyday routine through to a terminal diagnosis.

“We felt very at ease and relaxed and fitted in with everyone around, no questions, no cancer conversations; it was great to forget about home life. It really did bring the smiles back to our faces and for once in a long time we forgot about life’s troubles. We can’t thank 4 Cancer enough.”