Sascha is no ordinary dog. At three years old, she’s embarking on the biggest ‘walkie’ of her life, sailing up Australia’s east coast to raise awareness and funds for neuroendorcine tumours (NETs) through the Unicorn Foundation.
Understanding her limitations (she is after all… a dog), Sascha has enlisted the help of her humans, Murray Emerton and Nia Nguyen.
They’re sailing their boat, Sinbad from the Sydney Harbour to Magnetic Island in Queensland over three months, stopping at and meeting some hidden gems along the way.
“We’re looking to show the rare and unknown parts of the east coast of Australia that people might drive past and sail past and completely miss,” Murray says.
“It kind of sits with the theme, the fact that if you don’t suspect it, you won’t detect it, they say with neuroendocrine tumours.”
Despite having little-to-no sailing experience (the three of them have been on a boat a combined six times), this trio have a special reason for quitting their jobs and sailing out to sea.
Murray and Nia are sadly no strangers to cancer, the disease having touched their lives in more ways than one.
Their good friend and sailor by trade, John “Seagull” Edwards is living with NETs, a rare group of unusual, slow-growing cancers concentrated in the gastrointestinal system, lung, pancreas, ovary and testes. Murray’s grandmother has also recently undergone surgery to remove a rare pancreatic tumour, just months after losing his auntie to a rare form of breast cancer.
When caught at an early stage, NET cancers can often be cured with surgery. However, too often NET patients are left undiagnosed for years, with the tumours mistaken and treated as hot flushes or IBS. This was the case for Unicorn Foundation co-founder, Dr John Leyden, whose sister passed away in 2011 from NETs cancer that first manifested as stomach pain.