Helen Barnes, 56, from Ryde, recently opened up about her journey battling metastatic breast cancer and the pivotal role Mountbatten plays in her life. She shared how the support your generosity funds helps her navigate the challenges and maintain her independence.

Helen, who was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in December 2012, recalled her initial introduction to Mountbatten through her clinical nurse specialist in 2013. "That's when I started having some counselling at Mountbatten," she noted. From there, Helen embarked on a journey of 17 different treatments, including chemotherapy, hormone therapy, surgeries, and various trials, spanning over 11 years.

Mountbatten's support has become indispensable to Helen, offering not only counselling whenever she needs it but also complementary therapies, pain management, and physiotherapy to aid her recovery from a series of spontaneous femur fractures as a result of the cancer spreading to her bones.

Despite the trials and pain, Helen emphasised how Mountbatten's unwavering assistance helped her cope. "I don't think I could live the way that I do with cancer without Mountbatten. They have been so helpful and supportive," she expressed.

Her weekly sessions with Mary from our rehabilitation team, which began after breaking both her femurs within months of each other, proved transformative. Helen described her journey from complete reliance on crutches to walking unaided within eight months, with only the occasional need to use her walking stick, crediting Mary's expertise and encouragement for her remarkable progress. "It was really difficult. I was totally reliant on my husband, friends, and family to help me around. I couldn't have got through it without Mary, to be honest," she admitted.

During particularly challenging periods, Mountbatten's community nurses have played a crucial role in managing Helen’s pain and improving her quality of life. "In 2022, I was not in a good way at all,” she remembers. “I was in a lot of pain and in a pretty dark place. But again, Mountbatten came through for me and sorted me out with some good medication, which I'm still on now".

“With Mountbatten’s community nurses helping control my pain, I’ve still got the fight in me to live,” Helen shared.

Reflecting on her experience, Helen highlighted Mountbatten's welcoming atmosphere and multifaceted support beyond end-of-life care. "Everyone is always very upbeat. It's not a scary place at all," she emphasised, challenging common misconceptions about hospice care.

In addition to receiving support, Helen has actively contributed to Mountbatten and the community by volunteering at Walk the Wight and in our fundraising office, as well as co-founding the "Seconds" group, a support network for people with secondary cancer.

Despite facing numerous setbacks and moments of despair, Helen remains resilient and hopeful, actively planning for the future with newfound vigour. "I've booked three holidays for this year," she shared with a smile.

Showcasing her determination to embrace life to the fullest, Helen recently strutted her stuff on the catwalk at a special fundraising fashion show organised by fellow “Seconds” co-founder and Mountbatten volunteer Amanda Delannoy. All the models on the runway were people living with cancer, and the event raised over £5,500 to support patients and families cared for by Mountbatten.

As Helen continues her journey with Mountbatten by her side, she is a testament to the transformative power of support and resilience in the face of adversity for anyone living with a life-limiting illness.