Scots mum diagnosed with cancer three times desperate for clinical trial to prolong life

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A Scots woman who has been diagnosed with cancer three times is hoping a clinical trial will prolong her life so she can watch her three young daughters grow up.

Helen Crawford was first diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2014 – just months after the birth of first daughter Lily, now eight.

The 39-year-old had surgery to remove a mass in her neck in August of that year but when she was pregnant with twins Robyn and Scarlett, seven, in 2015, she discovered a lump in her breast.

Helen Crawford
Helen during chemo treatment for Stage 2 breast cancer

RAF nurse Helen, who is from Girvan but currently lives in the Lincolnshire barracks with husband Phil, had surgery weeks after her twin girls were born.

After intense chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a five-year course of an estrogen suppressant Tamoxifen, Helen was informed she was in remission in December 2020.

Tragically just days before Christmas 2021 Helen found out she had secondary breast cancer, also known as metastatic breast cancer, that could not be cured.

Helen and husband Phil on their wedding day with daughters Lily, Robyn and Scarlett
Helen and husband Phil on their wedding day with daughters Lily, Robyn and Scarlett

The mum-of-three told the Record: “I was in hospital on my own when I found out, just days before Christmas. I’m a nurse so I knew if it had spread to my bones it couldn’t be cured.

“The statistics are horrific for life expectancy with secondary breast cancer. It is horrific. I’m trying not to dwell on that or focus on it. I’m trying to stay positive.

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“There are so many women, young women like me – and I can’t even talk about it because it is really hard – who have young children.

Helen and Phil, both RAF personnel, selling poppies
Helen and Phil, both RAF personnel, selling poppies

“It is painful to think about it. I’m hoping to have a long life for them.”

Secondary breast cancer is when the disease spreads through the blood or lymphatic system to other parts of the body.

The average life expectancy after diagnosis is one to three years.

Helen’s sister Emma has now launched a fundraising page in a desperate bid to raise enough cash for Helen to take part in a clinical trial.

Helen with her full family just days after they found out she had incurable cancer
Helen with her full family just days after they found out she had incurable cancer

As trials tend to fill up quickly, Helen’s family hope to have the money raised and ready to go so that she can immediately express her interest if she finds a trial that is suitable.

So far £13,000 has been raised from the £100,000 target and family and friends plan to do a variety of activities, including the kilt walk, to add to the total.

Helen is also keen to raise awareness of secondary breast cancer and has been involved with various charities since her diagnosis.

Helen with mum Lorraine and dad Kenny
Helen with mum Lorraine and dad Kenny

One she discovered was Scottish charity Make 2nds Count which was set up specifically to give hope to women and men living with secondary breast cancer.

The charity’s main aim is to raise awareness of the disease and campaign for more funding into medical research that could increase patients’ quality of life as they believe current research into secondary breast cancer is underfunded.

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Helen said: “There is a lot of focus around primary breast cancer and checking for lumps but often people don’t die from primary breast cancer, they die from secondary breast cancer.

Helen with sister Emma
Helen with sister Emma who has launched a fundraising page

“There doesn’t seem to be enough emphasis on that – 31 women die from secondary breast cancer in the UK each day.”

As well as paying for a clinical trial, 25 per cent of the cash raised will be donated to charity MET UP UK that is a patient advocacy group supporting secondary breast cancer patients across the UK.

Donations to the fundraising page can be made by clicking here.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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