Belfast Telegraph

Darren Robb defies agony of terminal cancer to sail around Ireland

By Donna Deeney

A terminally-ill man who has just completed a sail around Ireland to raise funds for a cancer charity has doubled his target.

Darren Robb was forced to use morphine because he was in so much pain at some points of the marathon journey, and survived a storm that blew his boat against rocks.

When Darren first decided to set sail, he was enjoying reasonably good health and thought he was in remission from the cancer he had in 2011.

But just a few weeks before his departure date, he was dealt the devastating blow that not only had his cancer returned, but that it was also terminal.

A new cancerous growth about the size of a tennis ball was discovered on Darren's renal gland too close to his spine to make it operable.

With radiotherapy and chemotherapy also ruled out, Darren decided to push ahead with his fundraising bid for Cancer Support.

Darren had been inspired by the memory of another young man from the Waterside area of Londonderry, John Stewart (24).

They had met in 2011 when both were receiving radiotherapy treatment.

Darren bravely left Derry marina at the end of June in his boat the Stoney B for his voyage of a lifetime.

Now safely back on dry land, Darren has raised an incredible £10,500 – twice the target he had set himself.

"There is no denying this has been incredibly tough and this past week I had to give serious consideration to giving up completely because I was in so much pain," Darren told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I had to take morphine to help me carry on because I really didn't want to let anyone who had sponsored me down but coming into Culmore point and up the Foyle to the marina where my mother was waiting was so emotional.

"It was hard to keep my tears of relief in check when I saw her and also John Stewart's family but I knew I had to stay strong.

"I am so grateful to the different crews that came along with me and there were a few hairy moments along the way for sure.

"One particularly bad night we were caught in a storm near Sligo and had to run for cover but even then trying to get into the pontoon in the pitch dark with the boat hitting against rocks in a blowing gale wasn't the easiest thing.

"A few times my health was too bad for us to continue so we had to rest up.

"One of these time was in Galway during the Galway Races so that was actually quite good.

"Now I am back on dry land I can reflect on what I have done and I am glad I was able to complete it.

"I set myself this goal in March when I thought I was in fairly good health because I wanted to give something back to Macmillan Cancer."

He added: "While I face an uncertain time ahead I can look back and be content that I accomplished that."

One of those who accompanied Darren on his incredible voyage was Ken Curry, a local support worker with Macmillan who sailed from Galway to Londonderry.


"I was just in awe of Darren and full of admiration at his determination even though it was obvious he was in incredible pain. He has a great knowledge of Irish history and was able to tell me the history of all the different places we were passing. I got a lesson in geography and history but mostly I got the best lesson in life anyone could possibly get."

Macmillan Cancer Support worker Ken Curry, who was part of Darren Robb's crew between Galway and Derry

Belfast Telegraph


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