Cancer survivor Helen awards her own New Year’s honour

Clitheroe cancer survivor Helen Addy poses with her husband Jason and three-year-old son Joseph.
Clitheroe cancer survivor Helen Addy poses with her husband Jason and three-year-old son Joseph.
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A Clitheroe cancer survivor is entering into the spirit of the New Year Honour’s list by awarding a special tribute of her own – to her husband and child.

The official list celebrates the achievements of outstanding men and women. And that’s why Helen Addy (42) is putting her own twist on the tradition. She is highlighting the amazing support she’s received from her husband Jason and son Joseph as part of Cancer Research UK’s Right Now campaign.

The powerful and emotive Right Now TV, poster and radio campaign launched with a TV advert on Boxing Day. It aims to show the reality of cancer for patients just like Helen, their friends and family.

For Helen, who lives in Downham, the true impact of the disease hit home when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015.

Helen, who works part-time teaching Spanish at Stonyhurst College, Hurst Green, had become aware of a lump on her left breastbone, but assumed it was due to hormonal changes having breastfed her baby. As the lump felt like bone and was high up on her chest, she wasn’t initially worried. However, when the lump started to grow, Helen saw her GP who booked a referral to hospital.

Following a mammogram, ultrasound and other tests, Helen was told she had a large cancerous lump and needed to have chemotherapy to shrink the tumour.

She started chemotherapy treatment at Burnley General Hospital, but despite some dark days she remained as active as possible to keep life normal for Joseph who was aged two at the time. Helen’s husband, Jason, who is self-employed, gave up work to care for Helen and Joseph.

When Helen’s hair came out due to the chemotherapy, Joseph helped her to brush it and he enjoyed the opportunity to spend so much time with his parents at home.

In March of this year Helen completed the chemotherapy treatment which had successfully shrunk the tumour in size. In April she had her left breast removed at Burnley General Hospital followed by radiotherapy between May and June at the Rosemere Cancer Centre in Preston.

She returned to work in May for a few hours each week.

Helen took part in Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life event in Preston in June with a gang of work colleagues, friends and family members.

Helen, who is well known in the Catholic community of Clitheroe by her maiden name Mercer, was declared cancer free in August. She is now taking the drug tamoxifen and needs check-ups every three months.

She said: “This has been a very challenging year. My cancer diagnosis came out of the blue, but Jason and Joseph have both been an amazing support. At the start of the New Year, I want to mark the end of my treatment and recognise the very special help they have given me in so many ways.

“There have been dark days, but I have a strong faith which has lifted me enormously. It has just been a case of dealing with each day the best we can as a family and putting our trust in the amazing doctors and nurses who have given me the most excellent care.”

Cancer Research UK’s Right Now campaign aims to shine a light on the men, women and children across the UK who are facing their own cancer journeys. It features a series of moving films, showing real patients in real-life moments, which call on supporters to take action right now in the battle against cancer.

Helen added: “The Right Now campaign captures the experience of so many families just like mine. Cancer affects us all – not just the person diagnosed, but also their loved ones. I hope people are motivated to show their support and help even more people survive. Jason and Joseph have been with me every step of the way. Nothing was ever too much trouble and I know I couldn’t have faced this journey without them.

“I have also been so blessed to receive amazing support from my extended family, the pupils and staff at Stonyhurst and the St Michael and St John’s Church community in Clitheroe – they have all kept me going. My experience means I understand all too clearly why Cancer Research UK’s work is so important. So I’m urging people across Lancashire to take action, right now, and help support the charity’s vital research.”

Jane Bullock, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North West, said: “Helen’s experience brings home the reality of cancer and we’d like to thank the family for sharing their story.

“Our campaign shows that we are working to beat cancer right now. But we can’t do it alone. With the help of our supporters, Cancer Research UK scientists can find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease.

“There are so many ways for people to show their support here in Lancashire – from signing up for Race for Life to giving time to volunteer in our shops. We’re calling on people to take action right now and make a real difference in the fight against the disease.”

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