In 1990, following a Well Woman check-up and despite having no symptoms, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Two years later, within a month of each other, I lost my father, to prostate cancer, and then my sister-in-law lost her fight with cancer.  Weeks later I saw a Notice in the local newspaper that my Oncologist, Dr. Roger Ryall, was speaking about prostate cancer at an Open Meeting of the Wessex Cancer Trust Basingstoke Group. I was warmly welcomed by members of the group and was left with the feeling that I wanted to do more than just donate money. Was this why I was still here – to help others? I decided to get involved.

The Basingstoke Group was started one year after the Wessex Cancer Trust was founded. Betty Hawkins had lost her husband to cancer and was asked to help Dr. Ryall start the group to raise funds for the Trust. The Group grew quickly and Betty persuaded Professor Bill Heald, the eminent bowel cancer specialist, who began his ground-breaking colorectal surgery here in Basingstoke, to be our President. Over the years we have organised concerts, fashion shows, collections, sales and garden parties and also provided the catering for other events.

In our best year we raised £26,000, most of which went towards the creation of the Wessex Ward for in-patient cancer care at North Hampshire Hospital.

I am continually thankful that I survived cancer, unlike so many of my family and friends. Unfortunately, all the group members are getting older and we are not able to do as much as we used to do but we are all determined to keep going as long as possible because so many people are affected by cancer in one way or another. We would love to welcome younger members to ensure the continuation of the vital fund-raising for the Wessex Cancer Trust, to enable the Trust to continue giving help to those who need it.

Ann Searle
Treasurer and Minutes Secretary
Wessex Cancer Trust Basingstoke Group