Charlie's Paddle for Cancer

My name is Charlie Howden and I have had a dream of paddling the west coast of Costa Rica to raise money for a charity.   Who knew that I would be doing it while battling Pancreatic Cancer.

I am from Eastbourne, East Sussex in the South East of England and have always been keen in all sports particularly those that involved the water.  In 2010, I was introduced to paddle while working on yachts in South Florida. From the first time on the water I fell in love with the sport.  I knew that someday I would plan an expedition style endurance paddle as it suited my determined nature and my love of exploring.

One day I put a route into the navigation system along the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica from its northern border to its Southern.  It took about 20 minutes to decide this was going to be the route I would attempt.  Then I decided that I wanted to do this to raise money for a charity.  A friend suggested the William Guy Forbeck Research Foundation (WGFRF), a cancer research organization.  It immediately made sense as I have lost friends to this terrible disease.

Things were falling into place and I was aiming for March of 2013.  But then…. the results were positive.  I was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer at the beginning of August 2013.  This was a strange coincidence after having just decided to raise money for cancer research. 

September 2013 I started my chemotherapy and my road to recovery. During this time, paddling kept me dreaming, pushing myself, and my mind positive. It has kept me strong, and my dream alive to raise money for cancer research.   After a year of chemotherapy and a course of radiation my recent scans have come back negative.  There is still a long road ahead but throughout this time I have learned I need to live my life. There is no point wasting time wondering what this disease could do to me.

By no means am I back to 100% of my normal self but this was meant to be a challenge.   So I have decided to proceed with the paddle.  It’s time to finish planning and get started on the 450 mile challenge.  

The support I have had from friends and family has given me hope that I can live my life and beat this disease.  This paddle will raise money for cancer research.  More importantly I want to give hope to all those battling cancer or to those who have friends or family battling this, that it is not an end, but a journey of something new.


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Charlie Howden 
Fort Lauderdale, FL
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