Cancer patient tells her story

Helen Laude. Picture by Jane Coltman.

Helen Laude. Picture by Jane Coltman.

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A Morpeth woman who survived a battle with cancer has praised two charities for their support.

Helen Laude was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) just two days before Christmas in 2011 and she underwent a period of intensive treatment at the Freeman Hospital’s Northern Centre for Cancer Care.

After seeing her GP because she was suffering from a persistent cough and a feeling of pressure in her chest, the mother-of-two was sent for an X-ray and then a CT scan, with a follow-up appointment to see a chest consultant, who told her the next stage was to take a biopsy of her chest.

She knew something was seriously wrong at this point and she was called into the haematology department at the Freeman, where a bone-marrow biopsy was taken. Days later, she was diagnosed with ALL, a rare type of blood cancer.

Mrs Laude said: “I was left devastated and shocked by the news. I was terrified about my future and worried how I would look after my children.

“Hospital became my second home as I went through eight months of intensive chemotherapy, 28 blood transfusions and five platelet transfusions, not to mention several hospital admissions, followed by two years of oral and IV chemo and lumbar punctures.”

Thankfully, the 37-year-old went into remission and therefore did not require a transplant. She still goes for monthly check-ups and treatment is still needed to prevent a relapse.

She has told her story to highlight the help she received from charities Leukaemia CARE and Shine Cancer Support, which provides a network for people with cancer in their 20s, 30s and 40s.

“Through the early stages of my diagnosis, information was key and I found that Leukaemia CARE’s website was a great source to turn to as well as its inspiring quarterly magazine, Journey,” said Mrs Laude.

“My family and I were recently awarded a grant of shopping vouchers, for which we are very grateful to the charity.

“I also came across Shine Cancer Support and joined the North East group. I was soon going along to its informal events in places such as pubs and cafés.

“Speaking to people of a similar age who were going through or had been through similar situations made a big difference to me because being diagnosed with cancer at 34 posed extra challenges around work and being a mum to two young boys.

“You can also have conversations with fellow members on a closed Facebook group.”

For more information about its regional activities, email northeast@shinecancersupport.org

The Kirkhill resident praised her medical team for their efforts and family members for their support and looking after her children during her treatment.

She added: “My friends have been brilliant and many of them are now donating blood regularly and I received excellent support from the staff at my eldest son’s school (Abbeyfields First School).”

According to Macmillan Cancer Support, around 400 adults are diagnosed with ALL each year in the UK and it affects males more than females.

It occurs most frequently in children under 15 and in adults, it is most common between 18 and 25 and in people over 75.