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Rower With Incurable Cancer Sets New World Record With Two Friends Crossing Atlantic

Front to back: Charlotte Irving, Kat Cordiner and Abby Johnston, on their way to shatter the world record for rowing across the Atlantic. (Picture: Cancer Research UK/PA)

Three inspirational women, one of whom has incurable cancer, have broken the world record for rowing across the Atlantic.

Kat Cordiner, who has secondary ovarian cancer, and teammates Abby Johnston and Charlotte Irving, completed the 3,000-mile crossing in 42 days, seven hours and 17 minutes.

They shaved seven days off the previous record set by an all female trio in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

Aboard their boat, named Dolly Parton, the girls battled through scorching heat and treacherous nightime waves, and at points had sharks trailing their boat.

Determined to keep spirits high, they donned Hawaiian shirts, decorated their faces with glitter and even enjoyed some karaoke along the way.

On their return from the Atlantic this Sunday, the trio said they felt ‘wobbly, overwhelmed and happy’.

It is thought that Kat is the first person to tackle this challenge as a cancer patient.

The 42-year-old was diagnosed with cervical cancer in March 2019, completely unexpectedly as she was having her eggs harvested in the hope of having a baby in the future.

(Left to right) Abby Johnston, Charlotte Irving and Kat Cordiner after they shattered the world record for rowing across the Atlantic (Picture: PA)

Kat underwent a radical hysterectomy but doctors left her ovaries as she wanted to do another round of egg-freezing. Once her eggs were harvested, she had her ovaries removed.

After the surgery, all seemed well. But in June 2020, she began experiencing stomach pains and knew instantly the cancer was back.

To begin with, she worried that going back into treatment would scupper the crew’s chances of taking part in the Atlantic Row.

But, determined, after exhausting intensive cancer treatment, heart surgery and six months without training, she got back in the boat.

She said: ‘It floored me a bit initially and more than anything I was peeved because I couldn’t exercise. But when I got back in the boat, I was quite strong – I knew I could do it!’

Kat is now in remission and only taking drugs to deal with the effects of being plunged into an early menopause.

She added: ‘The doctors have told me I don’t have decades, I have years, so I really want to make the most of them. I don’t want to muck around doing stuff that doesn’t matter – I want to do things that are challenging and fun.

‘I don’t know how long I’ll be in remission. A lot of people think cancer/chemo/death. But today the drugs are so much better – you can live your life with cancer. People live for years on treatment.’

Kat Cordiner, Charlotte Irving and Abby Johnston during the challenge (Picture: PA)

Kat, Abby and Charlotte raised money for Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Support and The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity in their challenge.

Simon Ledsham, director of fundraising for Cancer Research UK said: ‘We are in awe of what Kat, Abby and Charlotte have taken on and achieved. They are remarkable supporters, not least Kat, who is an inspiration to thousands of other people facing their own cancer journey.

‘We want to send them huge congratulations on their world record as well as our grateful thanks for raising funds for Cancer Research UK and for highlighting the need for more funding to develop better and kinder treatments for all types of cancer.’

To donate to Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Support and the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, head to the We Are ExtraOARdinary Go Fund Me page.

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