Helen, 45, was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2021 and says that without doubt, early detection of her cancer saved her life.
“I am also lucky to be surrounded by the most supportive family and friends. As I sat in the consultation room trying to take in what I had just been told, I had no idea just how much my world was going to change.
“Medical professionals are some of the most brilliant people in the world, but they are very focused on the medical, non-emotional side of things. I don’t say this with anything other than complete respect and gratitude. That is what they are good at. That is what you need them to be good at.
“So far, I have had over 20 rounds of chemotherapy, as well as surgery and radiotherapy. I am also now having hormone injections every three months and am taking pills every evening for the next ten years.
“You will be told that everyone is different and that from the list of possible side effects caused by your chemotherapy, you may experience some, all or none of them. But there is no real way to know how your body will react until you start your treatment.
“However, Cancer Support UK has you covered. Their chemo kit contains everything you might need to get you through. One thing I hadn’t anticipated was having frozen feet. Cancer Support UK socks were an absolute game changer and continue to be one of most needed support items I use. Chemo can also affect your mouth, sense of taste and sensitivity – again, the chemo kit has you covered. There are sweets and tea bags to help with nausea. And toothpaste and mouthwash for sensitive mouths. Hand cream and lip-salve to help keep your skin protected.
“One thing I didn’t think I would use was the note book. You can use to it to log your appointments, keep track of your temperature, keep a note of questions you want to ask your oncologist or just express random thoughts and feelings.
“I filled it with doodles, thoughts, the occasional list of what I needed to remember (chemo brain is real and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise) and some pages that are indecipherable. But keeping that note book on my bedside table and in my bag when I went to chemo helped me immensely.
“I began sharing my experience on my instagram page @aitchvcancer https://www.instagram.com/aitchvcancer/ ) to spread the word about how important early detection has been for me in receiving a positive prognosis. I wanted to let people know about #knowingyournormal. I also wanted to show what was happening to me so that maybe others wouldn’t feel so alone.
“I hope my posts also show just how much support there is out there. Charities like Cancer Support UK are there for you every step of the way.
“There is a lot of scary stuff on the internet. At a time in your life when you don’t need any more fear, finding charities such as Cancer Support UK is a life line. Their work is incredible.
“It may not feel like it, but I promise you that, during and after your treatment, you will have good days, and great days and even “I can’t believe how bloody brilliant that was” days.
“I will finish active treatment in May 2023 and am already planning the trip to California that cancer took away from me last year. I am also signing up to be a Workplace Cancer Support Ambassador – a programme Cancer Support UK launched so that every workplace can offer support to those going through cancer or who are supporting someone who is.”
When not coping with cancer, Helen loves swimming, reading and music, and absolutely loves her job as a local government officer. Helen also has a significant other and two beautiful cats.
“Cancer is tough. But you will find strength that you never knew you had before.”
Please help us to provide cancer support. With your assistance, we can be there for adults and children undergoing treatment or recovering from cancer. In 2022 we helped 6,611 people during their cancer journey, and as a small charity who receive no government support, you are a vital part of our work. You can donate via our website.