"In November 2016 I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer - Liposarcoma cancer. I hadn't felt quite myself for some time, but hadn't felt ill. It came as a huge shock and I was referred to the Royal Marsden Hospital in London for immediate surgery. The outlook of getting through the operation was uncertain. The tumour unfortunately had become very large, had enveloped a kidney, the spleen and a section of the large colon, all of which had to be removed. It was a huge operation and the recovery time was slow and painful.

I knew I was lucky to be alive, and that evoked a whole range of emotions. I felt very weak physically, low, scared and tearful. I didn't need radiotherapy or chemotherapy, but all my hair fell out anyway due to the trauma. It had all been a huge shock, physically and emotionally. This was really difficult for me to accept as I'm usually a strong and positive person, so I couldn't believe I was finding it so hard to cope and get on with my life again. 

I was in need of some support and counselling and was given the contact details for Wessex Cancer Trust in Hythe. After all the time I had spent in hospital, I really didn't want to spend another minute in a hospital kind of environment, but I knew I needed to be in contact with people who would understand how I was feeling.

What a remarkable and welcoming place it is! I had no idea what to expect. There were no expectations, no probing questions, I could just be me and talk openly about my feelings. The centre is in a relaxing, calming setting with lovely gardens overlooking the sea.

The befrienders are easy going and gentle. They've helped me to accept I'll have 'off days' and that it's perfectly normal to feel like that given the trauma I've been through. I've met lots of different people at the centre, other cancer patients and the Wessex Cancer Trust team who offer ongoing support, counselling, and therapies such as facials and massage - relaxing treatments that give you the feel good factor. They've shown me that there's no right or wrong way to feel. They've also been very supportive to my husband and family as loved ones too need support when someone close to them is very ill.

I still have low and tearful days, but they're happening less often. I'm learning to embrace opportunities and have a renewed perspective on life. I'm told that there's a chance that it may come back again, but there's no point sitting and worrying - I'm going to enjoy every minute I can! The surgery has taken its toll; I still feel uncomfortable physically and I'm unable to play sport like I used to, but it's a small price to pay. I know it would've been a far greater struggle for me to recover had Wessex Cancer Trust not been there for me. I still call in to the centre when I need a friendly face to talk to.

I'm now back at work full time. I'm a clinical research Trial Manager within medicine at the University of Southampton. I work within a team where members of the public are actively involved in research projects and research organisations. These activities recognise that people who have experienced cancer contribute additional expertise and give valuable, novel insights.

Thank you Wessex Cancer Trust. You give so much time to helping people like me and for that I am extremely grateful."

If you would like to know more about getting involved in cancer research studies, you can contact Jac Samuel at [email protected]. or telephone 023 8120 5112.