“I’d just stopped breast-feeding my second child when I found a lump. My GP reassured me it was a blocked milk duct and prescribed antibiotics.
“Two weeks later I found another pea-sized lump so I went back to the surgery and this time I was referred to hospital for a biopsy and breast cancer was diagnosed. I had a partial mastectomy followed by six courses of chemotherapy and four weeks of radiotherapy.
“My family and friends were all wonderfully supportive helping take care of the children and coming with me to hospital appointments. Most of all Ian, my brilliant husband, was with me every step of the way.
“We had a break planned at Centre Parks and although it was between the operation and the start of the chemotherapy it was good to have a change of scene with the children.
“As my mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 40, I decided to have a genetic test and found I had the BRACA1 gene which meant I had a hereditary risk.
“My GP recommended a bilateral mastectomy and removal of my ovaries where they’d found two small cysts. I decided against having the bilateral mastectomy but visited a nutritional therapist and I’m keeping healthy at the gym and walking the dog.
“That was 20 years ago and I’m now fit and well and enjoying life. Since 1996 I’ve been working as a nursery nurse and, apart from regular mammograms, the traumatic days of breast cancer diagnosis are far behind me.”
Helen’s aunt died in November 2009 and, instead of flowers, she asked people to donate in lieu of flowers to Against Breast Cancer.