Jess Watson reveals ‘terrible’ grief

Jessica Watson faced many challenges during her solo circumnavigation of the world at the age of just 16, but now she is embarking on a much more personal campaign.

Ms Watson has shared her journey through the “terrible” grief at the loss of her partner Cam Dale in late 2021 following his shock death aged 29 from a “catastrophic stroke”.

The couple were about to start filming True Spirit, about Ms Watson’s life, when Cam suffered a minor stroke.

“It went from being an ordinary, beautiful, exciting day to ICU for six weeks,” she said.

He then suffered a “catastrophic stroke” in the hospital and died on August 30, 2021.

“It’s absolutely horrifying, there’s no way to mitigate really intense grief and I have so much compassion for everyone who is going through something like this,” she said.

“There’s no way to sugarcoat it, it was incredibly, incredibly difficult.”

The two met while Ms Watson was sailing another challenge with the youngest crew to compete in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, with Cam among the crew.

“I suppose our life together really revolved around sailing … and I suppose in the years since we’ve had fun sailing and building a life together,” she said.

“I very much expected it to be forever and never thought something like this could happen.”

The cause of Cam’s stroke was high blood pressure, something he didn’t know he suffered from until tragedy struck him.

“It’s just something that active young people don’t have on their radar, and it really has to be because it really came out of nowhere for us,” she said.

“We had absolutely no idea.”

Through her grief, Ms Watson has relied on sailing to get by and used it as a way to reconnect with Cam after his death.

“Sailing really kept me together,” she said.

“It started from something that’s always been so important in my life, but getting out on the water with a bunch of people who are some of Cam’s closest friends, it really was what kept me going, it feels , as if he were so much a part of what we do.”

She has also been busy releasing the film True Spirit, based on her sailing trip around the world, starring Australian actress Teagan Croft and directed by Sydney-born Sarah Spillane.

The film, available on Netflix from February 3, includes a credit to Cam’s memory, something Ms Watson said “means absolutely everything” to her.

After months of grief, Ms Watson is now working with the Stroke Foundation to urge young Australians to have their blood pressure checked so they can avoid the same fate.

More than 27,400 Australians will experience a first-time stroke in 2023, roughly one stroke every 19 minutes, according to the Stroke Foundation.

“It’s just not something we young people need to look out for, but it’s such a simple thing we can do to get our blood pressure checked,” she said.

According to the Stroke Foundation, if high blood pressure were eliminated, the number of strokes would be almost halved (48 percent).

“I cannot stress enough the importance of getting regular blood pressure checks to first determine if you have high blood pressure and then working with your GP on ways to lower and control your blood pressure,” said Sharon McGowan, executive director of the Stroke Foundation.

Ms Watson said there was no “silver lining” in her advocacy for young Aussies to have their health checked, but that she was doing so in Cam’s memory.

“For me, I can’t speak about him, he’s so much a part of me.”

“It’s so horrible what happened and the impact it has had on everyone, so do whatever you can to prevent this from happening to others… and it’s just a way of honoring him.”

Originally published as ‘Horrific’: Jess Watson unveils next campaign after losing her partner to a stroke

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *