Darren Robb has vowed to fulfil his dream of sailing around Ireland and raising as much money as possible for cancer care and research despite being told on Tuesday (June 17) he may only have months to live.
Back in April the Sentinel reported how Darren was diagnosed with neck cancer in 2011 and, with the cancer seemingly in remission, he was looking forward to the voyage in aid of MacMillan Cancer Support.
But speaking to the Sentinel on Thursday (June 19), Darren said he’s since had to undergo further surgery to his neck and, devastatingly, that he’s also developed a secondary, inoperable tumour, near his spine.
“Little did I know that three weeks into organising this sail around Ireland that it was all in front of me again,” he told the paper. “Then when I got news just there on Tuesday with the consultant up at the City Hospital, Russell Houston, who told me there was very little hope. There was little they could do. There’s no surgeon that would tackle that tumour.”
Darren says the tennis ball sized growth is too close to an artery leading to his heart to be taken out by surgeons. Despite this gut-wrenching development Darren’s determined to sail off with the Clippers on June 29 and complete what’s been a dream for some time.
“I’m struggling but just keeping going, you know, it’s taken away a lot of strength, and the healing process is still going on in the neck, I just have to be careful when I lift and things like that because you could rupture the wound there pretty handy but carry on regardless, that’s the only motto I know.
“There’s no point in feeling sorry for yourself, that’s the last thing I want.
“I don’t want anybody else to feel sorry for me for that matter. I just want to accept the way it is and not pussyfoot around the fact that it’s happening.”
Darren shrugs off the suggestion that his defiance must require an abnormal level of bravery.
“There’s no alternative. There’s no alternative really. But it’ll be a hell of a challenge if I get this sail around Ireland done, and all the more reason to do it now when my time is limited. It was always a dream to sail around Ireland but unfortunately I never thought these circumstances would arise, you know.”
Darren’s already raised an incredible £9,500 for MacMillan, almost doubling his initial target of £5,000, but he wants to increase that total by as much as possible ahead of and during his voyage.
To get behind him, you can either simply text a donation to 70070 with the words SAIL64 £10 or your chosen amount or visit www.justgiving.com/darrenrobbsailing webpage. You can also visit his http://sailforcancer.blogspot.co.uk/
Darren says he hopes he’s able to complete the voyage but is acutely aware of the challenge ahead.
“That’s the dilemma I’m in now. My time is pretty short. If I’m to listen to the consultants my time is pretty short,” he told the Sentinel.
He says Dr Houston, the Director of Oncology at the City Hospital, indicated the gravity of his illness during their conversation on Tuesday.
“I mentioned a year to him but he wouldn’t come along with me on that. He said, ‘If I were you I’d get your sail around Ireland done.’
“Reading between the lines from that statement I can kind of measure my own pain every day. I would say in a month’s time it’ll be quite unmanageable, in maybe a month’s time.”
It’s now fingers-crossed that Darren can manage his illness to be able to sail away from Londonderry on the day the Clippers are scheduled to depart next week.
“I think we’ll take it day to day now and see how I can manage the pain. I’d still like to keep it to that schedule, the 29th along with the Clippers, maybe leave an hour before them,” he told the paper.