Gretel first visited our Chandler’s Ford Support Centre in 2018 when her beloved husband, Eric, died of cancer after almost 60 years of marriage. ‘He was diagnosed in the December and died in the February,’ Gretel says. ‘It was so quick and I had to cope with Eric’s diagnosis and caring for him, and of course my own feelings. We did everything together and I was devastated when he died. Although I had a loving family around me, a friend mentioned that she thought I would benefit from counselling and that’s when I found out about Wessex Cancer Support.
‘I was petrified when I first came in to the Support Centre, a bit like a rabbit in the headlights, because I didn’t know what to expect. But everyone was so warm and welcoming. Whether you’re bereaved or you’re supporting someone with cancer or you have cancer yourself, everyone’s feelings are different, but you can say anything and you’re listened to, and for me it really did help.
‘When you’re bereaved, a lot of people tell you time is a great healer. It’s different for everyone, of course, but for me I’ve just had to learn to live with Eric not being here.
‘After a time, I realised that I wanted to give back and use my experiences to help others, so I became a volunteer at the Centre. I’m not a befriender, but I do sit and chat to clients who come in, and have helped with admin and bucket collections, too. It’s really rewarding to be able to help others, and it helps me too. Evenings are the hardest, but knowing I can come to the Support Centre is really comforting.
‘I missed the Centre dreadfully when it had to temporarily close because of Covid-19 and it made us all very aware of how vulnerable some of our clients are. It’s lovely now that the Centre is reopening for drop-ins and we can get together again.
‘As someone who’s lost a loved one to cancer and been supported by Wessex Cancer Support, I know it might feel daunting to come into the Support Centre, but everyone is so kind and genuine. If you’re ever wondering, ‘what do I do, where do I go?’ Wessex Cancer Support is here for you.
You can contact our Chandler’s Ford Support Centre here.