“The Can Too team went above and beyond to help me achieve my goal. I will never forget them”.
Don’t ever tell Jackie that something isn’t possible. She doesn’t just love a challenge; she needs a challenge. As Jackie likes to put it, “why not have a go in life”.
A wife and mother of three, Jackie was living in Hertfordshire and managing a growing community project in the UK when in 2007 her life took an unexpected turn. Jackie was diagnosed with an Acoustic Neuroma, a type of benign tumour that grows in the canal connecting the brain to the inner ear. Without treatment, important nerves (including the hearing, facial and balance nerves) can be affected and the growing tumour may eventually encroach on the brain.
Jackie had surgery to remove the acoustic neuroma that left her deaf in one ear and with a slight loss of balance. Not one to be defined to by setbacks, Jackie was motivated instead undertake a Masters degree in Deaf Education, and upon completion she quickly set about applying her new found skills with a learning support unit at the nearby prep school.
Unbeknown to Jackie her encounter with serious health issues wasn’t finished. In 2014 Jackie received her second diagnosis, this time for Breast Cancer. A few years later, after successful treatment and wanting to be closer to family, Jackie and her husband made a move to Dorset on the south coast in search of a new lifestyle.
In mid-2022 Jackie travelled with her husband to Australia for her son’s wedding. It was during a morning walk to Shelly Beach that she first spotted the ‘orange army’. A brief enquiry quickly resulted in Jackie registering for the summer swim program with the WAC pod, despite as she puts it, being a swimmer of average ability. And her motivation? - to get fit, meet people, develop new skills, and face her fear of waves and everything living beneath them.
In early 2023 Jackie participated in both the Palm Beach 1km Little Big Swim and 1km North Bondi Classic, an amazing achievement given her earlier health challenges and having never previously done an ocean swim. Reflecting on her experience, Jackie says that “being part of such an encouraging community helped me achieve something I could never have done on my own. The programme reminded me in so many ways of the power of friendship and encouragement to help me achieve something I never thought I would do”.
Her time with the Can Too swim program was transformational. Making friends, the incredible support of coaches and mentors, and the overall encouraging nature of the Can Too community all contributed to her success and her future intention to continue swimming when she returns to the UK.
Jackie doesn’t know when she’ll return to Australia but she certain of one thing. When that time does come, she’ll be signing up for another Can Too program. Not just because of the challenge but because being part of Can Too offers so much more!