Patients Setting Sail for Recovery

Patients Setting Sail for Recovery

Boston Herald – 8/14/2011

By Renee Nadeau Algarin

A new nonprofit set to launch tomorrow carries with it the goal of helping cancer patients boost their spirits and their prognosis by taking them across the water.

Sailing Heals takes cancer patients and survivors on sailing trips off Nantucket. Their inaugural voyage sets sail tomorrow, but the charity previewed its volunteer service for a group of cancer sufferers and their loved ones off Marblehead on Thursday.

“It was a carefree day. I didn’t have to think about anything but the wind,” said Bette Corbett, 57, of Arlington. “It was perfect, totally rejuvenating.”

Corbett is nearing the end of an eight-year battle with ovarian cancer, but credits Massachusetts General Hospital for continuing as long as she has.

The donated sailing trips are manned by all-volunteer crews, said Sailing Heals executive director Trisha Gallagher Boisvert. Yacht owners who often host trips on their boats were introduced to the charity at regattas hosted by Sailing Heals founding sponsor, watchmaker Officine Panerai, and through the Corinthian Yacht Club.

“Eventually, we would like to branch out beyond cancer to other groups that just really need a day of respite,” she said.

While no studies directly link emotional well-being with improved health, Dr. Bruce Chabner, Mass General cancer research director, said it likely helps patients cope.

Boisvert said the trip is a touching experience for everyone involved. “What we’re trying to do is give people a moment to spend time with people they really care about,” she said.