WESSEX Cancer Trust, a charity which supports thousands of people living with cancer in Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight, has launched, ‘Ray’s Appeal,’ its Christmas fundraising appeal for 2020 during #UKCharityWeek.
Ray, 49, who lives with his wife and two children in Eastleigh, was supported by Wessex Cancer Trust throughout 2020 after being rushed to hospital last Christmas Day with an aggressive brain tumour. He is now working with the charity to raise awareness of the free, local and personal support available to help anyone through their cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery, and to help raise vital funds to enable the charity to support even more families.
“Cancer came out of the blue. When I woke up last Christmas morning, I had no idea that instead of celebrating with my family at home, I would be eating my Christmas dinner in a hospital ward. My doctors initially thought I’d had a stroke, but quickly diagnosed me with a small, but high grade and very aggressive brain tumour.
“There was no reason for it. I was young, fit and healthy. I’ve never smoked or taken drugs. Yet here I was, facing the New Year with major surgery and months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy ahead. I kept asking, ‘why me?’ But there was no answer to that. My doctors told me it was just one of those things. That was really tough to get my head around.
“I was given a leaflet about Wessex Cancer Trust and I went along to its Chandler’s Ford support centre for a coffee and a chat. Then my wife, Louise, and I joined their walking group. They gave us something unique. Everyone was so welcoming and there were no prying questions. It was like chatting with old friends who understood, and because they support your family too, they help you get through it together.
“Coronavirus brought new challenges for me. I worried the restrictions meant I wouldn’t be able to get back to work and some much-needed normality. So it was a relief to get support remotely while the centre’s been closed and chat through my fears. A couple of weeks ago I had a scan which showed my treatment has worked. I feel well and positive, but I’m mindful that cancer will always be a part of my life because I’ll need regular scans, and I know it could come back. Even though I can’t meet my Wessex Cancer Trust counsellor, Clare, face-to-face, she’s been supporting me on the telephone, and that’s been so reassuring.
“The support I’ve had from Wessex Cancer Trust has been invaluable. I wasn’t expecting to spend 2020 recovering from cancer, but it would have been so much harder if they hadn’t been by my side.”
Rachel Billsberry-Grass, Wessex Cancer Trust’s CEO, said she was incredibly grateful to Ray for sharing his experiences:
“None of us could have predicted how life-changing 2020 would be. Least of all Ray, and others like him who have been diagnosed with cancer. After everything he’s been through, it’s incredibly kind of him to share his experiences, and we know he will help others living with cancer enormously. There’s no right or wrong way to live with cancer and all of us at Wessex Cancer Trust pride ourselves on helping any local person find a way through it that works for them personally. Many tell us that cancer makes them feel lonely and isolated and Coronavirus has caused increased anxiety for many reasons, so our support has been needed more than ever this year.
“We’re a charity which relies on voluntary donations to continue supporting local families, and our ability to fundraise has been hit really hard by Coronavirus this year. We know 2020 has been incredibly tough for everyone, but we’d be so grateful if you could make a small donation to enable us to be there for others like Ray at a time they need it most. Your help will mean so much.”
To make a donation please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/wct-xmas-appeal-2020
Wessex Cancer Trust supports 11,000 people every year through its four cancer support centres which provide a drop-in service, professional counselling, complementary therapies, activities, support groups and choirs and transport on its Daisy Buses to help patients get to their hospital appointments.
To access support, please visit: www.wessexcancer.org.uk.