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Sailing voyage around UK completed by terminally ill mum-of-three after burst appendix forced abandonment

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: August 17, 2014

  • Inspirational Lori Murdock with Betty for company.

  • "Blessed still to be alive to sail it".

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TERMINAL illness and a burst appendix would stop many people in their tracks, so when Devon mother-of-three Lori Murdock completed a voyage around the UK recently, that overused word ‘inspirational’ regained its significance.

Lori Murdock has an aggressive form of skin cancer and was initially given only months to live, and in 2013 she was forced to abandon her first attempt at the trip when her appendix burst.

The 59-year-old retired solicitor and law lecturer from Topsham decided to spend some of the time she had left sailing and raising £10,000 for cancer charities FORCE, Hospiscare and Macmillan.

With her Patterdale terrier Betty for company, she set out from Falmouth in May 2013 on board the Kasuje III, a 1953 Yeoman Classic gentleman's racer cruiser.

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They sailed anti-clockwise, with friends joining them for various legs of the trip, and had reached the West coast of Scotland when disaster struck at Ardrishaig on the Crinan Canal.

“I had peritonitis and was rushed to Oban Hospital for an emergency operation to remove my appendix so that was that,” said Lori.

The boat had to go back to Dartmouth on a low loader and Lori eventually returned home to recover and continue her battle against cancer.

Since July 2012 when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 malignant melanoma and given less than a year to live, Lori has been on a clinical drug trial and is now having treatment in Southampton using a new medication that has just been introduced into the UK.

“I’m on borrowed time but I’ve learnt to live in the moment and sailing gives me such a lovely sense of well-being that I wanted to finish my big adventure,” said Lori.

In May she set out from Totnes on the penultimate leg of her voyage, sailing Misty with a friend via the Isles of Scilly to Holyhead.

And earlier this month she joined fellow Topsham Sailing Club members Gill and Godfrey Whitehouse aboard their boat Rebecca to complete the final 200-odd miles from Anglesey back to Ardrishaig.

So how did she feel at the finish?

“Certainly mixed emotions. So, so pleased to have done it, so very, very blessed still to be alive to sail it. As I sailed across the line I thought of all those that I have met through melanoma that are no longer with us. I am very fortunate indeed. Good to remember that I planned this sail six months into a prognosis of nine months to live. I am extremely grateful,” she said.

Lori is now back in Devon where she continues her battle against cancer while working hard to raise awareness of malignant melanoma.

“I gave out literature everywhere I went on my trip. Melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer but it can be cured in most cases if you catch it early. I encouraged everyone I met along the way to check their skin, get to know it so you can spot any change, however small. Get it checked out straight away,” she said.

To donate to Lori’s appeal please visit virginmoneygiving.com/lorimurdock

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