22/09/2017 13:01 BST | Updated 27/09/2017 11:27 BST

Six Marathons, Six Weeks And Stand Up To Cancer's Great Canoe Challenge In Between... Bring It On!

I can't bear the thought of sitting at home, going stir-crazy, and I've always loved exercise. So after I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 at the age of 32 I told myself I didn't want to stop doing the things I love. When I had a good day I'd try and go for a run or do some kickboxing. If it was a bad day, I'd walk around the block in my pyjamas. I just needed to get out of the house and move about and the exercise helped alleviate the fatigue I felt from my treatment. I feel fortunate for that, I know it's just not the case for many people.

I underwent chemotherapy, a lumpectomy and radiotherapy. Like a lot of people, I struggled with losing my hair during treatment. I used to have really long hair but I didn't want to put myself through wearing a cold cap to try and save it, I just thought I'd deal with it if my hair started to fall out, which it did. It started looking really patchy though. I decided to shave off what was left. I remember a single tear rolling down my cheek as the clippers passed over my head. Fortunately, once it was done, it wasn't as bad as I'd imagined. At least it looked neater.


Before my diagnosis I'd been looking into becoming a personal trainer but then everything was put on the back burner. Eventually, in April 2015, I was told the doctors had managed to remove the cancer completely. To celebrate, I wanted to do something for myself and I started looking into personal training. I ended up on an intensive eight-week course and, less than a month later, I had a job as a PT at a fitness company in east London.

I feel like I've come a long way. It's strange when I look back on the days where I could barely shuffle around the block in my PJs. I feel like I'm back to being myself. I couldn't be happier now.

I've always loved running and really wanted to test myself, which is why I decided to do six marathons in six weeks. Then I heard about Stand Up To Cancer's Great Canoe Challenge and I just couldn't resist - even though it's right in the middle of my marathon challenge!


I know it will be really tough but I'm confident I can do it. Stand Up To Cancer's work is so important, I couldn't feel more motivated.

Celebrities will be dropping into my boat throughout the week to help cheer me on - and hopefully do a good bit of rowing too! I'm particularly looking forward to meeting Nikki Tapper because she's also had breast cancer and it's interesting to hear how different people's experience can be. Cancer is such a horrible disease. To me, supporting Stand Up To Cancer is a way of taking back some control. Bring it on!

Helen is taking part in Stand Up To Cancer's Great Canoe Challenge. The challenge is taking place from Monday 25 September - Friday 29 September.


For more information visit:, to support the Paddlers and donate £5 or £10 text CANOE5 or CANOE10 to 70404*, or donate online at