The crew onboard Snowdome Occasional Coarse Language Too are all set to compete in the 75th edition of the 628 nautical mile Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. As they embark on this iconic race, Warwick Sherman and his team will not only be battling their competition, the elements and exhaustion, they are also pledging their support for the Snowdome Foundation to hep those battling with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
As a survivor of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the Snowdome Foundation is an organisation close to Warwick Sherman’s heart.
No stranger to the race, Warwick Sherman won IRC Division 2 in the 2012 race onboard his Sydney GTS 43 ‘Occasional Coarse Language Too.’ They competed in 2014 but were forced to retire with steering damage, then again in 2017 when they achieved a 23rd overall place and 4th in IRC division 2.
The team of 12 have this year pledged to raise $10,000 for the Snowdome Foundation and are currently almost half way to achieving this goal.
The following Q&A between OCL2 crew member Jay Anderson and owner Warwick Sherman describes Warwick’s battle with cancer, why he has entered the race and why this journey is important to him and the crew.
Can you give an overview of your journey thus far?
“In brief, I was diagnosed in July 2010 with Non-Hodgkin’s Mantle Cell Lymphoma. At that stage it was fatal; basically every patient throughout the world in 2009 died. I was put on a new experimental treatment regime “the Nordic Protocol” which let the Lymphoma get aggressive, and when absolutely necessary conduct chemo (this turned out to be 16 months later, so I had the “Sword of Damocles” over my head all this time, as one Oncologist suggested). Then after 4 days of massive chemo stem cells were removed, reinvigorated and replaced some days later so they would fight the Lymphoma.
“I went into isolation for a month, then rest for months. I was put into what they thought was long-term remission. Regrettably and surprisingly, the Lymphoma returned some 3 and a half years later and I was put on a wonder drug Ibrutenib (now on the PBS) for 15 months which kept me in a holding pattern but finally started to fail. We checked my brother and sisters for a stem cell match and my brother was suitable. Peter gave his stem cells and I was given these intravenously and waited to see how these would respond to my body, as rejection was possible. I had another month in isolation and again months of getting better. Luckily all went pretty well and the Oncologist said that if I was above ground and in good health after 2 years post stems, they would consider me cured! That anniversary was 6 October 2018.”
What does the Snowdome Foundation mean to you?
“Through donations, SNOWDOME generates funds that go directly to “coal face” research into all blood cancers which is what we want – a cure, not a bandage. Recently an Australian researcher living in the USA and sponsored by Snowdome has apparently found a cure for my specific Non-Hodgkin’s Mantle Cell Lymphoma (there are 40 plus varieties of NH Lymphoma). This cure doesn’t require the patient to endure chemotherapy.
“I’m sure this will have to go through government accreditation and trials, but what a fabulous result for her and Snowdome.
“So there is hope with perseverance. I support them financially, and emotionally.”
Why are you doing the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race?
“My last hurrah in long offshore racing started in 1994, so this is the 25 year anniversary!
“I’m getting older, less mobile and more careful with risk-taking now that I have been given life back a second time. My self-preservation ethic is as high as it has ever been, but I really wanted to give a bit more back to Snowdome and this is a pretty good billboard to showcase who they are and what they can do. I paid for the mainsail and all the signage and I donate all this to Snowdome willingly. Many in the sailing community were with me on my now 9-year journey, and they were always very supportive and interested in my progress. I am viewed as someone who took the cancer challenge head-on and with good humour and fortunately have survived to tell the story twice now!
“I was voted “Play of the Day” on the Channel 10 evening news when we won the Division 2 Rolex Sydney-Hobart in 2012, only 9 months after I received the first stem cells. The Oncologist thought I was mad to do this. I suggest he still does! Anyway, such media coverage is truly wonderful to showcase Snowdome and I hope we can replicate this coverage in this year’s race.
“While I guess the story has to involve me, I would prefer not to be the focus. It takes all 12 crew members to get the boat to Hobart and all 12 embrace the desire to help and tell the Snowdome story. As a matter of interest, one other crew member also suffers from a blood cancer which is currently incurable, but able to be stabilised in the short-term. We are all hoping that further progress will be made to cure him and all the other insidious blood cancers. I hope Snowdome Occasional Coarse Language can assist in this process.
You can find Snowdome Occasional Coarse Language Too on facebook and help raise much-needed funds for blood cancer research in Australia by donating and sharing their fundraising page: www.givenow.com.au/crowdraiser/public/snowdomeocltoosydneytohobartyachtrace2019.