When it comes to facing challenges, the people around you are your strongest asset.

When providing a service for people which is only increasing, things can be tough. And this January, here at Wessex Cancer Trust, we continue to face our own challenge. There is the harsh reality that our services may no longer be there for you when you need us most. 

So, what do you do when things get tough? You carry on of course. And that’s exactly what we’re doing – yes, the charity is in an extremely vulnerable position, but we are rolling our sleeves up. So, why is it so important that we are still here into the new decade? 

Who better to explain than someone who used our service to help them out. Meet Alyson Gibbons, a mum from Chandlers Ford. 

 

The Importance Of A Local Hub 

With Wessex Cancer Trust, we are the arm that reaches out whenever you need to grab hold of us. We are the teacher you come to in school when you have trouble learning, the aunt who listens when your parents don’t. We are local, and use that to our advantage and your benefit. 

When finding help and support, not everyone will actively look for it. But, you might be walking down the street and come across a WCT sign and start thinking – is this something that could help me? Often the times we need help aren’t the times we are looking for it, and by being local we aim to bridge that gap between finding and receiving help. 

Alyson, is someone who has visited Wessex Cancer Trust for over two years now, and we asked her why she kept coming back to us, and she simply said, “It’s a personal place. Everyone in the centre cares for you on a personal level, and not many other charities in the same field can say that.” 

 

Alyson’s Story 

“Two years ago, I found a lump whilst I was getting ready for bed,” 47-year-old Alyson recounts. 

“I was putting my pyjamas on, brushed against my breast and felt a lump. I thought I might as well get it checked out, and within three days I was in the hospital having a mammogram, a biopsy and an ultrasound. 

“The doctors told me it looks and feels just like cancer before I’d even had an official diagnosis. I had to prepare myself in an instant.”

And just like that, Alyson’s life was flipped upside down. Two weeks down the line, she was given an official diagnosis of breast cancer, a triple-negative tumour that doesn’t respond to preventative hormone treatment, so Alyson can’t keep cancer away like other patients can. 

“I had to sit down and tell my children that mummy was really unwell.”

Alyson, like most people in her circumstances, underwent six gruelling rounds of chemotherapy after an initial surgery which removed the two-and-half inch tumour growing inside of her breast. 

She lost all of her hair, powered through 26 rounds of radiotherapy, and simply kept going.

“I was isolated throughout my treatment. Cancer didn’t just affect my health, it turned my entire life upside down

“At that time when I was feeling my lowest, I discovered Wessex Cancer Trust.”

Alyson lives nearby to our Chandler’s Ford support centre and plucked up the courage to walk into the hub and see how Wessex Cancer Trust could help her. 

“It felt like the staff were all reaching out and holding me. From that first walk up the stairs into the centre, I found myself coming day after day.”

Sometimes Alyson sat and rocked in a chair, sometimes she simply sat and cried. But the one consistency was the unwavering support from the team around her. 

“Those individuals alone were the support I needed. They offered me all of the counselling, wellbeing, treatments and everything else Wessex Cancer Trust have under their belt, but I didn’t need it – all I needed was them.”

  

What If We Weren’t Here Anymore?

“If Wessex Cancer Trust wasn’t here, I would be a big pile of mess. The thought of it being gone petrifies me – there’s nowhere else to go,” explains Alyson. 

“My future was uncertain when I received my diagnosis. But the minute I walked through those doors, I felt hope again for the first time in a long time. The NHS have done a terrific job in piecing my health back together, but Wessex Cancer Trust are the ones putting my life back together.”

Alyson, like many others, can put her guard down when in the centre. Whilst she lives with her loving husband, she was unable to discuss her cancer with him in the way she needed. With Wessex Cancer Trust, people can speak their mind, ask any questions they feel too painful for relatives to hear, and just let go. 

 

Our Worth

With Wessex Cancer Trust, we can be whatever you need us to be. 

If you need a shoulder to cry on, our befrienders are there for you. If you’re interested in looking into counselling or alternative treatments, we have the time, resources and people for that too. If you are after a slice of cake and a chat about the weather, look no further. 

Wessex is more than just a cancer support resource. For almost 40 years Wessex Cancer Trust has been there for local people during the most difficult of times. When you, or a loved one, get a cancer diagnosis, it can be a huge shock for the entire family. The news is incredibly difficult to process and while the NHS does a superb job of providing clinical care, there are still so many other ways that the illness affects your life, mind, relationships and confidence.

“Wessex Cancer Trust is a family.” says Alyson. 

 

A Call To Arms 

This is not a Christmas appeal or a planned campaign, it is a last resort. 

We have never needed to run a crisis appeal before but now urgently need to raise £600,000 by 31 January 2020. If we fail, we will not be there for the 165,000 people who will be facing a cancer diagnosis by 2030 and their loved ones.  

People need us. People like Alyson, suffering cancer first hand. Families and friends need us, to support and help them cope with ill loved ones. Mums, dads, daughters, uncles, grandparents and everyone in between can be affected by cancer, and we need to be there for them:

As Alyson states, “Wessex Cancer Trust is about the people, by the people, for the people. Don’t let it go.”

To help out and learn more, click here: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/SaveWessexCancerTrust