Kat Cordiner doesn’t know how much longer she has left, but she’s determined to make every moment count.
Although currently in remission, Kat has had a lot of health problems in the past few years. The 42-year-old Londoner was diagnosed with cervical cancer in March 2019. After surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, she achieved remission in early 2020. Sadly, the reprieve was short-lived.
Kat’s cancer returned, and as she fought it for a second time, doctors discovered more bad news. There was a growth on Kat’s heart that needed to be removed. Kat had another surgery, and doctors advised her to stop exercising — but Kat simply could not. In fact, as soon as she was strong enough, she started training even harder!
“The doctors have told me I don’t have decades, I have years, so I really want to make the most of them,” she explained. “I don’t want to muck around doing stuff that doesn’t matter — I want to do things that are challenging and fun.”
Throughout her cancer journey, Kat continued to train for the Talisker Atlantic Row, an ocean rowing race that stretches 3,000 miles over the open sea between the Canary Islands and the West Indies. Kat teamed up with her two close friends, Abby Johnston and Charlotte Irving, to make the voyage in a 25-foot boat called Dolly Parton.
Team ExtraOARdinary launched from La Gomera in the Canary Islands on December 12, 2021. The three woman crew rowed for two hours on, two hours off, without stopping for an astounding 42 days, seven hours, and 17 minutes, setting a new world record for rowing across the Atlantic!
The journey was not only physically exhausting; It was also dangerous. The crew was chronically sleep deprived, the heat and sun were relentless, there were huge waves and bad weather, and at times they encountered sharks circling around the boat. Between all of that and the painful callouses on their hands from rowing constantly, completing the race was no easy feat.
Yet team ExtraOARdinary did it all with a smile on their faces! They documented their voyage on social media, even donning Hawaiian shirts, face glitter, and glow sticks for special occasions like New Year’s Eve.
Kat, Abby, and Charlotte used the race to raise just under $75,000 for Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, and The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. When they arrived in Antigua, many of their family and friends had flown in to celebrate with them. Kat said they felt “wobbly, overwhelmed and happy” as they struggled to walk on terra firma for the first time in weeks!
Kat may very well be the first cancer patient to ever win the Talisker Atlantic Row! We’d say setting world records is a wonderful way to embrace each day as the gift that it is.
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