Rose’s story

When 41-year-old single Mum, Rose, felt too tired to cook Christmas dinner in 2020, she put it down to the stress of the previous couple of years.

Here’s her story in her own words:

In January 2019 my Mum died and then my son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. A few weeks later, I got my dream job as a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist. It would mean working full time and going back to University. My children, who were eight and five, started after-school club and it felt amazing to be studying again, meeting new people and fulfilling a dream I’d had since I was 19.

I wanted a great Christmas after a tough year

I was doing well at University, but in March 2020 Covid-19 hit and sent the UK into its first lockdown. I started to feel very tired but put it down to all the stress and pressure I was under. That November, I failed the course. I remained optimistic. I could resit the assignments and complete the course.

I tried to concentrate on giving my children a great Christmas after a tough year. I’m usually super-organised, but I felt exhausted. I left it to the last minute to buy a tree and ended up with an eight-foot one that I somehow had to wrestle into my car and house. It cost a fortune!

Christmas Day passed in a blur because I was exhausted and had to go back to bed. When the New Year arrived and I still felt tired, I had a GP appointment. My blood tests and stool sample showed it was likely I had Chrohn’s Disease or celiac disease.

Everything changed

I was referred for a routine endoscopy and colonoscopy and when I saw the mass on the screen, I knew it was serious. In March 2021, I was told I had aggressive bowel cancer. I was told they could remove the tumour and I’d be able to get on with my life. But further scans showed the cancer was aggressive and had spread to my ovaries and womb. I needed chemotherapy. I was in shock and kept thinking I needed to do the school run. I walked to collect my children feeling numb.

Explaining to them that Mummy had cancer was horrible. It deeply affected my daughter, who was then 10. She had to help care for me, our home and her seven-year-old brother with his health needs.

My treatment was awful. I wasn’t allowed to take anyone to my appointments, because of Covid-19 restrictions. I had chemotherapy, surgery, and then more chemotherapy. It affected my nerves badly and I struggled to walk or talk. Eventually, my treatment ended at the end of 2021. That Christmas was quiet as the enormity of the year sunk in, and I struggled to cope with ongoing health conditions from the treatment.

I knew I needed support

By 2022, I wanted to start enjoying life again and creating fun experiences for my children. They deserved it! But there was another blow when I was diagnosed with a bone-weakening condition as a result of my cancer treatment. My friends and family struggled to support me. I felt lost and isolated, and I still had University assignments to complete. I didn’t know where to start.

Brighter days

I remember walking past Wessex Cancer Support’s centre in Hythe and I emailed them, asking for help. Shortly afterwards the centre manager, Maureen, called me. She was so warm and welcoming. She invited me to the centre and I met Phil, the charity’s wellbeing coordinator. We put together a package of support, just for me. I spoke to the befrienders, had professional counselling, massage and Reiki. Some days I just popped in for a chat.


Everyone there is compassionate and kind. They’re so caring: the best people I’ve ever met.

Someone is always there with a cup of tea and a biscuit, and I always leave with the most wonderful feeling. They supported me through my check-up, and celebrated with me when I got the all-clear. I have another three years of check-ups ahead, and I know they will be there for me, whatever lies ahead.

My children have got their Mum back

Whenever I need support, I know I can just drop in to the centre and someone will be there. I don’t know where I’d be without Wessex Cancer Support. Because of them, my children have got their Mum back and I feel ready to rebuild my life.

As Christmas comes around again, I’ve been reflecting on how much cancer has changed my outlook on life. When I was poorly, friends gave me gifts, but all I wanted was time. It’s the most precious gift we have and I didn’t know if I would be here to see my children enjoy Christmas or their birthdays.


The team at Wessex Cancer Support has given me the gifts of their time, compassion and kindness. With their support, I can look forward again.

We know that too many people affected by cancer

are feeling isolated and unsupported.

With your help, we can provide free and local help to anyone who needs us.

A donation of £40 will pay for one hour of counselling.

Click here to make a donation.