About Helen's Cancer

Helen had cancer of the cervix, diagnosed when she was 26 years old, although her first abnormal smear was at the age of 24. After chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery, it was thought it would never come back and after five years she was told she was cured.

When it did return, (7 years after first being diagnosed), it wasn't one tumour that could be identified and attacked, instead, it invaded her organ walls, making holes, and breaking them down. This together with severe radium damage caused her unbelievable pain and problems in the most sensitive of areas for a young women. Sympathy or self pity, however, was not something Helen would ever accept.. Instead she talked of others she felt were in a worse position than her.(although it was difficult for anyone to imagine). Knocked back at every turn with new problems and complications, she adapted and fought on, never complaining and determined to live life as fully as possible.

Everyone has their own way of dealing with cancer. Helen did not want to acknowledge it. She said she was giving me 'Power of Attorney' over all her medical issues. She didn't want Doctors to tell her there was no hope (as she was told when it first returned.) On most hospital appointments and especially if there was a scan result, she sent me. I then told her the news, not with a lie but with hope. With a plan A and a plan B.

I was fortunate as a Nurse Practitioner, because I could converse with the Consultants. I could look up medical studies and find out if they might help her. I once read a study on closing radiotherapy induced fistulas (holes) by a Professor in Japan. I wrote to him and asked him if anyone in the Western world used his method. Five days later I had an email, telling me of someone in Stoke Mandeville Hospital who had used it on a tetraplegic patient. The following day this Professor sent me the whole procedure to give to a Urologist here. Her scans went to the States and to Sweden to see if she could have some stereotactic radiosurgery. No stone was left unturned. One drug in phase 1 of a study had an amazing impact on her cancer but by then the damage the cancer and radiotherapy had caused to her organs gave rise to irreparable disabilities and severe pain.

Helen lived much longer than expected in a way that some might not choose. Too painful, too difficult. Not for Hels, she was living, that's all that mattered .She laughed, she shopped, she planned and she packed so much into those three years. Courage, bravery, fortitude, they are all words that took on a whole new dimension and meaning.

One comment made by Helen which was so typical of her, was when I was driving her through Hyde Park and she saw people riding horses and playing with children. All the things she loved. I commented on how good she was to never complain, that these were things she could no longer do, never bitter and her reply to me was "what have I got to be bitter about? If I didn't have cancer, it would be someone else."

I hope her Trust will always be there to help people with cancer and to help research find a cure and I feel immensely grateful to all her friends, family and friends of friends who have supported her Trust and helped us to raise the money that we have. Thank you to you all.

Angela Feather.