Stories And News Stories Janette's Story I do believe that a befriender's empathy and insight can make a life-changing difference to someone living with cancer. I became a befriender at Wessex Cancer Trust's Cosham Cancer Support Centre in 2016. A number of things took me there. Firstly, I lost a dear friend to cancer and took it badly, so I visited the Centre myself to get some support. I found it to be a life-saver; it was so calm and relaxing and it really helped me through that difficult time. I was also diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition which meant I couldn't carry on doing the job working with children that I loved. So for me, being involved with the Centre was cathartic on so many levels. It gave me a renewed sense of purpose and I wanted to be able to give something back. In a nutshell, it makes me feel good when I can use my experiences to help someone. I know from my own medical condition that people close to you can drift away when something bad happens. It's not because they don't care, but often they simply don't know what to say, or are struggling themselves to come to terms with your diagnosis. Feelings need to be acknowledged and simply hearing, 'how are you today?', is like a big sigh of relief. It's important that the people I see at the Centre feel they can offload emotionally without fear of upsetting me or causing embarrassment. They can just 'be' because I don't judge or give them advice. Any medical condition can change you and your outlook on life. Often it makes you re-evaluate everything. I've been there, and I do believe that a befriender's empathy and insight can make a life-changing difference to someone living with cancer. Suzie Railson, who I have supported in my role as a befriender has said: Sometimes we just need someone to simply be there. Not to fix anything, or to do anything in particular, but just to make us feel we are supported and cared about. This describes the incredibly positive impact Janette's presence has had on my life. The beauty of her is that she probably has no idea that she has such special qualities!'