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.
Despite its incidence increasing – over 10,000 Australians are currently living with the disease – NET cancer research still gains no government funding and life changing drugs are not subsidised on the PBS. Millions of dollars are poured in to cancer research annually but only private donations reach many rare disease foundations like the Unicorn Foundation.
Last Friday, Sascha visited Murray’s High School @gosfordhigh to spread The Unicorn Foundation’s message. Big thanks to the Year 12’s for having us at their Friday meeting and making Saschy feel welcome. All the best for the next stage of your lives! #school #hsc #highschool #gosford #centralcoastnsw #education #teachers #cute #dogs_of_instagram #sailing #ocean #sail #yacht #boat #travel #adventure #wanderlust #australiagram #cancer #NETcancer #sea #charity
By documenting Sascha’s eventful journey on social media, Murray and Nia hope to raise $40,000 for the Unicorn Foundation so they can help patients and families, and fund research into finding a cure for NETs. They’ll also be speaking in schools and communities to increase awareness for the group of cancers many have never heard of before.
It won’t be easy, but Sascha is determined to slay the high seas for the cause that’s close to her heart.
To help Sascha, Murray and Nia reach their fundraising target, visit their Just Giving page. To follow their adventures on the high seas, check out their Facebook page and Instagram. You can also find out more about the Unicorn Foundation here.
For more stories packed with HEART, you can read more from Mamamia Cares here.
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