Alison on life with cancer, not dominated by cancer

Wednesday 29 November 2023

Maggie's West London

It’s been an ‘interesting’ eighteen months in my life since May 2022 when, having lived 60 years as a healthy energetic & outgoing person, I was taken unwell completely out of the blue and diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

I was referred to the Royal Marsden hospital for treatment which involved major surgery followed by six rounds of chemotherapy.

Having got through all of that I was invited for routine breast screening in January 2023, only to be called back for further tests and to be diagnosed with breast cancer in February.

Further surgery and radiotherapy at the Royal Marsden followed. Not quite the start to 2023 I had anticipated.

Finding Maggie's

Given I’ve had two cancers in quick succession, my surgeon recommended I consider psychological therapy.

However the NHS wait list is pretty extensive, so I decided to be proactive and get in touch with Maggie's, which had been recommended by the Marsden team.

I have to be honest that I had never heard of Maggie’s so I was curious to find out more. What happened next will live with me forever.

I emailed Maggie’s West London and literally within twenty minutes of sending my email, I received a phone call from one of the cancer support specialists, Mary.

Her opening words were 'Maggie's can help you'.

That meant so much to me at a time when I was beleaguered for a second time by this disease.

Mary invited me to visit the centre to see for myself what’s on offer and so I did exactly that with my sister Claire in January. 

That first visit cemented the relationship I have now developed with the charity. My first impression was of a beautiful light filled airy space where I am made to feel so welcome by every member of the Maggie’s team including the wonderful volunteers.

My feelings on visiting the centre are different to those when I visit the hospital in so much as it’s such a vibrant, giving environment, brim full of positivity & calm.

My now regular visits leave me feeling energised & motivated to tackle the challenges I’ve faced to date and those I continue to face as I progress through my ongoing three monthly surveillance with the Royal Marsden.

My triangle of support

I  was very privileged to be offered sessions with Troy, a psychologist at Maggie’s, which have been completely life-changing and life-affirming.

He, along with the Royal Marsden, who I depend upon for my ongoing clinical support, and my new found interests in yoga and meditation, have become my ‘triangle of support’ in these challenging times. 

I was also fortunate to attend the ‘Where Now?' course at Maggie’s, where I met a great group of people and learned so much about the mechanics of day-to-day living with cancer.

Each session included an hour of physical exercise which Maggie’s see as a very important part of cancer recovery. Who knew I would be Nordic walking along the Thames at Hammersmith?!

The fourth arm of my triangle I’m establishing (you could say it’s turning into a rectangle!) is giving back.

I’ve begun volunteering at fundraising events, speaking at events, taking part in photoshoots and had a great time helping out at the London Marathon.

Getting more involved with the charity is helping me make sense of the situation I have found myself in and is giving me huge amounts of fulfilment and happiness.


Discovering Maggie’s at this stage of my life, through the most adverse of circumstances, is such a joy.

Ironically, had I been able to see a clinical psychologist at the Marsden sooner, I may never have discovered the charity!

It feels like a whole new world has been opened up to me, one I never knew existed, and it feels a huge privilege to be a small part of such a wonderful charity.

In a world of cancer where’s there is so much uncertainty about one’s prognosis and future, I cannot put a price on the certainty that Maggie’s has given me.

We’re here for you

Our cancer support specialists, psychologists and benefits advisors are here for everyone with cancer, and all the people who love them.

Come and see us at your nearest Maggie’s, call us on 0300 123 180 or email us at

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