Olympic victory

Yes I made it!

Not long after my last session of chemo I actually got to see the Olympics. I still can’t quite believe it.

The day before I’d been shattered. I wondered if I could even make the journey across London. But there was no choice. I wanted to go so I had to feel well. After months worrying about tumours, rogue cells and being so agonisingly ill, it was great to focus on something totally unconnected to cancer.

Mum and I had tickets for basketball but our first event of the day was show jumping at Greenwich Park.


To get to the venue we did it like David Beckham and sped along the Thames by boat.

I have to admit I was nervous about the day ahead. I hadn’t done anything requiring this much effort for such a long time. Despite being determined not to be beaten by the chemo, I knew I was going to have to take it easy. But this wasn’t about what I couldn’t do; it was about enjoying a glimpse of normal life and how things will be when I’m all recovered.

Because of this I thought there was no better time than to wear a wig for real. Say hello to Raquel! This is a Raquel Welsh wig and so it becomes my Raquel. It was quite surreal suddenly going blonde.

The Olympic day was planned like a military operation. I’d slept as much as I could since chemo. I’d organised my medicine so that I was taking the max pain killers at the right time on the Sunday. Most importantly mum had hired me a wheelchair.


There was a torrential downpour as the morning session of the show jumping started but it didn’t matter. I’d managed to get to the games. It was an amazing feeling to be part of the Olympics.

For Team GB it was the beginning of an historic gold medal winning performance. I was also finding it quite tiring. Plus the super strong tablets had left me drowsy. As the final horses finished I had a sleep in my wheelchair. I was very grateful for that chair. There was no way I could have managed without it.

It had been mum’s idea to get the wheelchair even though it meant that she had to push me. I thought that we might only manage the morning. Mum had had other ideas and we headed for the Olympic Park. Luckily she’s very fit and when we had a clear stretch of pavements we whizzed along. If there were people walking the same way as us, mum enjoyed overtaking them.

It was definitely fun but shocking too. It made me understand just how much of an impact the cancer, surgery and chemo have had. Thankfully I know that I’ll recover.

Spending all day in the wheelchair also left me stunned. It was as if some people had never seen a wheelchair before. As we tried to navigate busy areas, some just starred and stood in the way. When we needed help few people offered any assistance.

The people working at the games however were brilliant. At the Olympic Park we were given a lift on a golf buggy. The wheelchair was strapped to the back. Our driver tooted his horn and shouted, “Team GB on board” as we made our way through the crowds.

The last time I was there was back in January. I was reporting live for BBC News on the start of the Olympic year. Just a few days before I had symptoms that made me think that something could be wrong. So much has happened since then but it’s almost all over. I’m so glad that I made it. This feels like I’ve come full circle.

Incredibly we managed to stay to the end of the evening session of basketball. I was knackered, of course and in some pain but delighted. This was good pain, the kind that you get from doing too much. It’s taken days of sleep to recover.

Since the opening of London 2012 I’ve been watching Team GB with so much pride. Now the Olympics has helped me to achieve something that was way beyond my expectations and I feel very proud of myself too.

8 thoughts on “Olympic victory

  1. I am so glad that you and the Raquel were able to make it. :)

    while there are things that give me comfort, there is little that I find really uplifting …….
    your blog is different and it always makes me smile.

  2. I’m all goose pimples after reading this blog post – it doesn’t just take determination to go no matter what and watch the games, but it also takes courage to take to the wheelchair and become visibly ‘different’. Once I had to do this in an airport, but ended up stubbornly ditching the chair and walking (nearly collapsing once I finally reached the luggage wheel, though thankfully my family was waiting on the other side of the gate.) It’s a big deal that you got to see all the games. How wonderful for you, Helen – Most certainly a glimpse of the good times to come.


  3. So glad you made it to the Olympics, I can imagine your mum taking great delight in overtaking others with you in the wheel chair. This I am sure is the first of many trips on your road back to recovery. Sending you strength and love to get you through the last Chemo session. ali x x

  4. so cool Hellebelle that your mum took you to the Olympics! and well done for keeping up that energy level of yours! It is great to read that you enjoyed it so much! You totally deserved it

  5. Hi Helen
    I read this on my phone earlier but couldn’t see the pix….anyway, your post made my day today. So happy you and your mum a good day on Sunday and of course you have now written about it so fluently.
    My friend’s son is one of the volunteers at the Olympics Basketball, so I was thrilled about that too and had to tell her :)
    Anyway, very well done and congrats to you. I guess like all good long-distance athletes you need to pace yourself for the next phase of your road to recovery.
    C xx

  6. Nice one Hels….living vicariously through you and your adventures…you’re having them for the both of us, so make sure to have an extra good time!

    PS – The best part of the Olympics so far has been the Arctic Monkeys! Wait. Am I supposed to be watching the sports too??


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