Captain Sandy Yawn has ridden rough seas on Bravo's maritime reality series "Below Deck Mediterranean," but it's nothing like the tough times she's navigated on dry land.
Not only is the superyacht mariner a heart attack survivor, she’s also a cancer survivor — and she only won that latter battle because another harrowing incident led to her diagnosis.
Just days before her 58th birthday, Yawn took to Instagram and looked back on the 2015 motorcycle accident that turned out to be oddly fortuitous for her.
"8 years ago February 21st, I was on my way to the @miamiboatshow and this happened," she wrote alongside a set of photos that included a look at what was left of her bike, as well as a post-surgical X-ray that revealed broken bones set with a plate and screws.
But her doctors detected far more than fractures during her stay.
"Once I was in the hospital they discovered that I had kidney cancer," she continued.
That's the reason why she looks back at the wreck with gratitude, as she explained during a 2021 interview with TODAY.com.
“I believe that accident was meant to happen so I could find the cancer because kidney cancer is also a silent killer,” she said. “I had no pain — no, no side effects. ... They discovered the tumor, which was cancer, and I had it removed a month after the surgery for my motorcycle accident. That was a blessing."
It left her feeling confident that she's "meant to be here! ... Like, someone’s keeping me alive.”
The cause of most kidney cancers isn't known, according to the Mayo Clinic, and factors that can increase the risk of kidney cancer include high blood pressure and smoking.
In her Instagram post, Yawn emphasized that she's "incredibly blessed to have overcome so much" in her life.
"I cannot thank all of you enough for your support and love," the "Be the Calm or Be the Storm" author added. "Life is Good! I’m cancer free and I can walk. My family and friends showed up for me and held me up until I could stand on my feet again. Thank you all for all the support through the years."
She added the hashtags "#lifeisgood #family #friends #cancerfree."
One of the crew members from Season Seven of “Below Deck Mediterranean,” Kyle Viljoen, responded to her post to share his own gratitude to her.
“Like any ship and human alike there are always two outcomes. Sink or float," the second steward wrote. "But having self maintained, overcoming weakness and priding on life and the blessings you have today was all the more reason to showcase you SURVIVED and I am so grateful to have you as another one of many powerful women in my mind - the voice of comprehension. ILY♥️”