Our tribute to Aly

Many of you will have known Aly, who spoke publicly about how Wessex Cancer Support supported her through her experience of breast cancer. She was a warm, passionate and selfless woman who did so much for us and local people living with cancer. She modelled at our Fashion Gala in 2019, moved us all to tears with her speeches, helped with our grant applications, made videos and spoke to the media about her experiences.

She was an inspiration to us all, and we were so sad when we heard she had died in November 2021.  

We all send our love to her family, along with our heartfelt gratitude for everything Aly did to support other local people living cancer. 

Aly Gibbons
Here’s Aly’s story, and a look back at some of the ways she supported Wessex Cancer Support: 

Aly was 45 when, in 2017, she found a lump while she was getting ready for bed. 

“I was putting my pyjamas on, brushed against my breast and felt a lump. I thought I should 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 looked and felt just like cancer before I’d even had an official diagnosis. I had to prepare myself in an instant.”  

Two weeks later, she was diagnosed with a type of breast cancer that does not respond to hormonal therapy. She said her life was turned upside down.   

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

Aly had six rounds of chemotherapy after initial surgery which removed the two-and-half inch tumour from her breast.   

She lost all of her hair and endured 26 rounds of radiotherapy. 

She told us: “I  felt 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 Support.”  

Aly lived near our Chandler’s Ford Support Centre and came to see us to find out how we could support her

“It felt like there was a team of people all reaching out and holding me. After my initial visit, I found myself coming in day after day.”  

Sometimes Alyson chatted with befrienders and other people who had come into the Support Centre. Other times she simply sat and cried.    

“I was offered counselling, courses, treatments and everything else Wessex Cancer Support had available, but for me, having the support of those in the Support Centre was enough.”  

The NHS did a wonderful job of piecing my health back together, but Wessex Cancer Support put my life back together 

“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 did a terrific job in piecing my health back together, but Wessex Cancer Support put my life back together.  

“The charity helps you to find a way through cancer that works best for you. They care for you on a deeply personal level. Not many charities can say that.”  

Aly made a lovely video during the first Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020 explaining what Wessex Cancer Support meant to her. Click here to watch it. 

She also spoke to the Guardian about the impact the pandemic had on cancer services. Click here to read the article. 

Aly made such an impact on Wessex Cancer Support and we’re all incredibly grateful to have known her.