A devoted daughter who supported both parents through cancer treatment before receiving a diagnosis herself has lent her support to the Cancer Wellbeing Fund to thank hospital staff for their “all-encompassing support and kindness.”

Claire Beeson said the team at Ipswich Hospital’s Cancer Wellbeing and Information Centre offered her safe place at a time where she felt “her world was imploding”.

The 56-year-old is now sharing her story to help raise funds to support the centre’s vital work.

“Both mum and dad were diagnosed with cancer in the same month in 2017,” said Claire, who lives in Ipswich with husband Warren. “They went through treatment and were given the all clear, only to be re-diagnosed two years’ later.

“That is the point at which I started to really wobble – but the team at the cancer centre were there for us all and gave me a tremendous amount of support. I was so blown away by their kindness.”

As well as arranging complementary therapies for her mum, the team were always on hand to provide a cup of tea and listening ear for Claire, together with counselling.

“I was devastated to lose my mum at the end of 2020 and everything just took its toll on me, both mentally and physically. Eight months later my dad’s cancer sadly returned for a third time and I was also diagnosed with breast cancer. I had major surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, all while trying to support the family and dad on his own cancer journey before we sadly said goodbye to him in late 2022.

“They picked the pieces up when my world was imploding”

“It was an incredibly traumatic time, but the staff at the centre were just amazing. It’s hard to describe what they gave me – they more than just looked after me. I cried many tears in there, but they listened, guided and supported me during both grief and treatment, and were often able to offer solutions or point in the right direction when things got tough. They picked the pieces up at a time when my world was imploding.” 

Claire received a variety of support through the centre, including access to exercise classes after treatment, online courses, Reiki, counselling and scar tissue therapy, which she said made a “life-changing” difference to how she both looked and felt. It was often the little things the team did which helped the most.

“The team understand what people are going though and think of everything, from offering covers for PICC lines to letting you borrow wigs to try on in comfort at home,” added Claire, who finished her treatment in 2022. “It’s difficult to put into words unless you’ve been through it, but this friendly support makes such a difference – especially when you’re feeling so lonely and vulnerable.

“It has been a challenging journey which has completely changed me as a person, but having someone there who understands has really helped. I know if I needed to pick up the phone or pop in, the staff would either help, advise or point me in the right direction.

“But the support the centre offers needs to be funded, which is why this appeal is so important. They have such an enormous positive impact on both patients and their families and would really benefit from more people supporting them.”