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Cancer patient sailing 1,800 miles around British Isles for charity

Olle Nash hopes to raise £10,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support.

A cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy is sailing more than 1,800 miles around the British Isles to raise money for charity.

Olle Nash, 63, who also lost his daughter Toni to cancer, aims to complete his journey in four months to raise £10,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Mr Nash, from Ipswich in Suffolk, was diagnosed with incurable bowel cancer in 2019 and told he would need chemotherapy treatment every two weeks for the rest of his life to keep it at bay.

However his diagnosis has not deterred him from fulfilling his ambition of spending his retirement sailing.

Mr Nash and his daughter
Mr Nash lost his daughter to cancer (Family handout/PA)

He is substituting intravenous chemotherapy treatment for tablet-based medication during his trip and will return home three weeks into his journey to undergo a five-week cycle of intensive radiotherapy treatment before setting sail again.

Mr Nash said: “When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I didn’t ask those awkward questions like ‘what does this mean for my life?’ I just wanted to get on with it.

“I’d always hoped to spend my retirement sailing all over the place, so I decided to combine this ambition with fundraising.”

The 63-year-old enjoyed a relatively clean bill of health until 2018, when he was diagnosed and treated for a rare condition – Extra-Mammary Paget’s disease, which required an operation to remove part of his large intestine during which doctors discovered a growth.

Mr Nash said: “I was told they had found a cancerous tumour and that it had metastasised into my lymph nodes and couldn’t be removed or cured.

“Instead, I would have chemotherapy treatment every two weeks for the rest of my life to keep it at bay.

“It was very difficult to take in and I didn’t tell my wife, Lesley, until I got home.

“There was a sense of denial at first, because I hardly ever get ill – it’s not me – but I wasn’t upset. There wasn’t much point. It was just another obstacle in life, and I had no choice but to deal with it.”

The couple lost their 37-year-old daughter Toni to pancreatic cancer in 2017 and received support from Macmillan.

Family and friends will join Mr Nash onboard (Family handout/PA)

Mr Nash, who has two other children, said: “I can’t praise Macmillan highly enough. Some of the nurses who have treated and cared for me also looked after Toni – that means a lot.”

He set off from Ipswich on May 22 and arrived at Inverness on Wednesday where he had his bloods checked at Raigmore Hospital, and will then continue to Oban and the Inner Hebrides.

His anticlockwise route will feature two shortcuts through Loch Ness and down the Caledonian Canal.

Friends and family will be taking it in turn to join the crew of the 37.6ft, 1979 Moody sailing yacht called ‘Renegade’ which Mr Nash will skipper and if all goes to plan, he hopes to arrive home in September.

Lisa Wild, area fundraising manager for Macmillan in Scotland, said: “What an unbelievable challenge Olle is taking on. We are certainly all in awe of his spirit and his determination to sail around the UK whilst going through his treatment.

“It’s also fantastic that he’s stopping in Scotland and I’m sure lots of people will be delighted to see him on his travels as he reaches his berths across the country.

“Olle’s fundraising will go a long way in helping people affected by cancer.”

Anyone wishing to donate can do so at: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/olle-nash

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