Sail Away From Cancer
Sail Away From Cancer was established and pioneered by Sail To Prevail - pediatric cancer patients sail with their resident doctors and family members to create a unique “out of hospital” experience. This specialized program has demonstrated positive outcomes for the children, their parents, and the doctors. The unique dynamics (of children, parents and doctors sailing together as a team) are as follows:
The children “win,” because they get the instant gratification of enjoying the waters, sailing on Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay and get to spend time with each other, in something besides being together for chemotherapy. The children begin to think about what is possible in a truly dynamic way as opposed to the alternative they face in the hospital setting or the chemotherapy clinic. We are not sure what sailing does for increasing the children’s mortality rate, (as it is too early to measure within our own program); however, we are not making it worse, for sure! It has also been noted that recent research clearly shows that exercise improves outcomes for cancer patients. “Few other leads have shown as much promise as physical activity in extending the lives of cancer survivors,” said a 2012 editorial in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
The parents “win,” because they are placed into a situation where they can (and need to) commiserate with each other, or simply spend time with others in their same situation. Many of these parents are a one-parent family, so they are limited in their options to “share the load.” Therefore, parents and guardians develop a camaraderie and support system that often carries beyond their day of sailing.
The Resident Doctors “win,” because they interact with the children and their parents/guardians in a way that proves to be equalizing. Due to working as a “teammate” on a sailboat with their patients, the doctors will have an extraordinary opportunity to develop deep personal feeling and insight into the lives of all the children whom they are treating, now and in the future. This is something that they cannot learn at medical school nor experience during their usual rounds in the hospital.
When you do the math, how many doctors, patients and parents will be affected by this formula? We calculate one doctor X their career [30 years] X 500 patients per year = 15,000 children per doctor. And there are 63 Residents at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, of which we strive to get a good number of them to participate … so this “training” goes a very long way – it redefines “the ripple effect.”
Jaclyn Kline, Chief Pediatric Resident at Hasbro Children’s Hospital:
As the coordinator for two years, I have seen first hand how much the children and their families appreciate this program. It is a fantastic opportunity for children and their families to spend time out on the water, which is certainly therapeutic. I can also speak for my fellow residents that this program offers a unique opportunity for resident physicians to spend time with patients outside of the hospital and to form better relationships with patients and families.
I speak not only for myself, but for future residents, patients, and families - this is a great program to continue to offer the opportunity for a day away from the hospital for sick children for years to come.
Therefore, the combination of these three “teammates” has extraordinary results, both on an individual basis, and it is amplified when brought together as a group to achieve a goal (that is challenging and fun!), other than their daily primary mission to overcome the cancer or unfortunate hand that was dealt to them.
Based on the successful pilot program held in conjunction with Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, Sail To Prevail is expanding the program to include other child-centric organizations in other locations throughout Rhode Island and southeast New England.