TV star Lorraine Kelly has penned a heartfelt article about one of her close colleagues recent battle with breast cancer.
Writing in the Daily Mail, the 59-year-old revealed that her friend, and Lorraine producer, Helen Addis, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer back in April last year.
Lorraine revealed that, after a segment on the show about checking your breasts, Helen, who is just 39, was encouraged to examine her own in the shower the next day.
However, after feeling a lump in her right breast, she admitted, “I wasn’t actually worried. I didn’t tick any of the boxes for cancer risk so I just assumed it was hormonal.”
But Helen still made an appointment with her GP, who told her the difficult news that she in fact had breast cancer.
Lorraine confessed that the news hit her and the rest of her colleague like a ton of bricks. She said, “We are a close-knit team on and off air, and her news completely floored us. Helen was 39, slim and fit.
“A mother of three children, aged five, seven and nine, she never smoked, barely touched alcohol, and there was no history of cancer in her family. I hate to say it, but I thought: why her? Helen simply says: ‘Why not me?’ And, of course, she is right.”
Lorraine continued, admitting that there’s an important lesson behind Helen’s experience of cancer. She said, “Her story is a stark reminder we all need to be vigilant about this disease, which affects one in eight women.”
Sharing how the diagnosis hit her, Helen explained, “Being told you have cancer, it’s life-changing. And I knew I had the most aggressive type, which was likely to travel round the body.
“I have three kids, and I was supposed to be back on the show the next morning. I just thought, ‘Is this going to take me?'”
In the article penned by presenter Lorraine, she also revealed that thankfully, Helen has come through her treatment, which involved a mastectomy, surgery to remove lymph nodes, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
“Helen really is a steel magnolia – she may look delicate, but she’s as tough as nails,” she said. “I’m so proud of her. We hope we’ve seen the back of her cancer. And she caught it early, which means she has the best possible chance of being well again.”
Inspired by Helen’s experience, Lorraine, Helen, and the whole Lorraine team have today launched a new campaign encouraging women to check their breasts for changes in the changing rooms of shops and gyms.
Lorraine explained, “The reason we’ve chosen changing rooms for our campaign is because it’s a place where you take off your clothes, and maybe you’re thinking about – or at least looking at – your breasts. Maybe that’d be a good time to have quick feel, too? But it could be at another time.
“The point is, wherever, whenever, if you notice anything unusual, see your GP or nurse as soon as possible. An early diagnosis could mean a better chance of successful treatment. It might just save your life.”
She revealed that, so far, John Lewis, David Lloyd, Asda and Monsoon have pledged to put up the ‘Change and Check’ stickers in their changing rooms, to remind women to examine themselves.