Second time unlucky

These are the words I never ever wanted to write – I have cancer AGAIN.

I can’t believe that I’m going through this once more.

A decade after being diagnosed with the disease, almost to the day, I had some terrible pain. Fast forward two months and I’ve been told that I have ovarian cancer.

So what are my chances of survival? Well let’s flip a coin. I only have a 50-50 chance of being successfully treated.

Those are not great odds. But they are only odds.

Last weekend I went to the horse races with a group of friends. One of the girls had been to a charity auction and accidentally ended up sponsoring the 3.20 at Towcester.

Anyway, I put on an accumulator bet. I looked at the twitter tippers and backed the favourite in each race. The first four won but last two were so bad that I think they’re still running. So much for relying on good odds.

I’m positive that I’ll beat the cancer. And my consultants are too. So let’s just ignore the stats.

Besides I’ve already done it before. Ten years ago I was diagnosed with cancer when a scan revealed that I had two tumours. Lots of horrible treatment later and I was cured.

The whole experience was horrific but it made me realise that I wanted to live my second chance at life to the full.

I came up with a list of some exciting things that I would love to do. I soon moved abroad and ended up becoming a BBC foreign correspondent, living in some strange places and going to dangerous parts of the world. This was the opposite of a bucket list.

When I returned to Britain a couple of years ago I was confident I was free of the disease. So I decided to write a book about surviving cancer and how the experience changed my life for the better.

The same week that I finally finished the book, I started having tests. The irony of the timing isn’t lost on me.

I’m launching this blog now as there are just a few days to go before my treatment begins. It’s also the start of ovarian cancer awareness month.

More cruel irony.

There will now be half a year of hell. A big operation and then weekly chemotherapy. Don’t worry there won’t be anything squeamish. Or any jargon. This will be my place to escape from the medical world.

So why am I doing this blog?

I found that writing helped me to make sense of what I’d been though before. Plus this is a way of sharing what’s happening with my friends. But if you’re reading this and we’ve never met, then hey welcome along.

28 thoughts on “Second time unlucky

  1. Hi Helen
    So sorry to hear this Helen, I didn’t know. And I’m sorry that I didn’t follow up on your scan results in December.
    Don’t know what to say, its knocked me for six actually. Anything I can do, you know I’ll do it. If you fancy a change of scenery at any point just email me and I’ll come and get you, any day of the week.
    Lots of love, Sarah x

  2. Interesting article which I’m sure will help others. My mum recently went through it, a huge shock for us all. Fast forward a year later, she’s fine and living life to the full. Wishing you all the very best for the coming weeks!

  3. Helen, I’m so sorry to read this. What a horrible hand to be dealt by fate. You must know that you have many many friends – and admirers – who will follow your battle, willing you to beat cancer once again, and standing by to help you out in any practical way we can. Don’t be shy to ask. with love, P

  4. I really wish you well Helen. I’ve had a year or so now totally dominated by cancer. My mum passed away last November and my dad is now receiving treatment – so far so good for him. I’m sure with what sounds like a really positive attitude you will beat this thing. Again I really wish you well.

  5. We haven’t met, Helen but I’m a former BBC news woman and admired your reporting.
    So sorry to read this but you’re clearly very strong and you can beat this again. Courage
    and strength to you.

  6. Hello. You’ve beaten it once, you can beat this again. Very moved by your blog and sending you all the very best for the coming months!

  7. Ola! We don’t know each other but thank you for sharing your experiences with us. What an inspiration. To come through a negative situation and turn it into a positive. So glad that you are positive & your consultants too, of your recovery. I have over come my own cancer scare with a little c by changing my lifestyle dramatically and doing things I enjoy & that inspire me. Wishing you the best of luck on your continued journey & would love to hear your thoughts on all the many and varied natural redies for cancer out there & which ones you’ve tried if any. Much love Sabina

  8. Helen – you may not remember me from nightshifts. I can only wish you all the best over the coming months. I know Ovarian Cancer is a difficult disease to diagnose and treat — and you probably have a clearer idea of what it’s all about than many patients. Your level headed approach and your sense of humor will help you get through this. I’ll be thinking of you — and reading your blog

  9. Oh, Helen. I’m so sorry. Life’s a pig. But I feel sure that you will approach this with the grace and humour you do most things in life, and that you will get through this difficult time. We are rooting for you. And will read your blog. xx

  10. Sweetheart, thank you for writing this. You are brave, tough and will beat this – AGAIN! Sorry i missed you on thursday. We are 100% behind you. See you v soon. Sangita xxx

  11. Helen – I’m very sorry to hear the news but am confident that you will beat this again! You are incredibly brave and I have nothing but the highest admiration for the candor and openness with which you are taking this on. Wishing you all the very best as you take this challenge on!

  12. Thank you for sharing this, Helen. I’ve always thought when listing to you on the radio and watching you on TV what a beautiful voice you have. Your written voice is equally as powerful and beautiful. Wishing you lots of luck and love. You are an inspiration.

  13. Helen, I’m so sorry to read that you’ve got to start a new battle. Good luck — I’m betting on you beating it!

  14. Dear Helen, So sorry to hear what you are going through. Take a break from it all, and boost your courage and positive energy with a trip to Spain. Come whwnever you want. Wishing you all the best. Am thinking of you. Katya xx

  15. Helen, we were looking forward to working with you this week, and were all so saddened to hear your news. You sound brave and cheerful despite it all. Good luck with everything that is to come, and hope very much to work with you again soon. Reeta x

  16. Am so sorry to hear about this, Helen, life is so bloody unfair sometimes and seems to discriminate against good people. james shaw and i Still owe you for that interesting Ukrainian food you sorted during our Chernobyl trip a few years ago. I know everybody you worked with at 5 live and in newsgathering will be rooting for you – good luck xx

  17. we haven’t met, but Rudy shared your blog with me, and I’ve shared it with all the friends of the Fountain Centre as you say so well what many of them are feeling or have felt (me included). Quite bowled over by the first piece, specially advice on how to tell people! With you in spirit.

  18. Hi Helen, i am one of cashiers at Slimming World you kindly signed my card when i had my hip done. i will be thinking of you and i am sure everything will be fine as it all sounds very positive. You have a strong character so just keep strong you WILL beat it, i am sending you a big hug and all my best wishes love Pat.

  19. My mum was diagnosed with stage 3c ovarian cancer and told she had only a 30% chance of survival. Fast forward and she’s still here. All clear for 4 years, back at work and apart from some weird hand numbness and a scar that looks a bit like a neat zip she’s fine and living life as before. I got scared shitless reading up on stats but they don’t mean much, it’s just so individual. Good luck with the treatment and if your anything like my mum, get someone to video your post op drunkenness. I wish we had, I’ve never laughed so much.
    Hannah x

  20. Helen, This is a first for an old wrinkly like me but what you’ve written moved me so much I just had to send my love and wishes to you for a good and positive outcome. Will be down to see you at your Mum and Dad’s soon. All love, Judy xx (Aunty!)

  21. Bless you, your so very brave, I admire your positivity and courage and strength to beat this awful disease.I had cancer back in August 1999 I was 26 at the time I had cervicall cancer 3 inch tumor in my cervix, so had radical hysterectomy and Lymphectomy Luckily I didnt need no rads or chemo.However they have left my Ovaries in tact, and thats my biggest fear as cos I dont have periods no more I wouldnt know what symptoms to look out for Ive been clear of cancer now for 13 years .My heart goes out to you darling it truly does.Sending lots of love and Positive vibes to you xxx

  22. Hi Helen, we haven’t actually met although we have been at a couple of family events at the same time (Jo & Alex’s wedding & The Corn Barn). I’m so sorry to hear your news and will be thinking of you x Jacci

  23. hello Helen

    Really sorry to hear that the cancer has returned. But haviinf read a few post on your blog I can see that despite it all you remain upbeat and positive about life and having a second fight at kicking cancer into touch. will wish you luck with your battle and will follow your bog.

    best wishes

  24. Helen
    You WILL beat it. Like you did last time. I have marvelled as you’ve taken on challenges and triumphed in Russia, Ukraine and the Balkans. Your toughest challenge is on a different level all together, I can only imagine. And still you rise…
    Faith WILL move that mountain, girl. And if there’s anything we who believe in you can do, please don’t hesitate to say.

  25. So looking forward to hearing your bucket list on the BBC next week! I really hope you get a last minute reprieve from it all but if not i love the way you are going out in style. A short life well lived is much better than a hundred years of boring. Hugs to you and all the best dear inspiring lady!! Your bravery is outstanding :)

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