Not just surviving but thriving!
This page is devoted to the memory of Helen Cleaver of Little Witley who died on 11th January 2013.
Helen was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 at the age of 45. Whilst still undergoing chemotherapy, she became one of the founder members of the Worcester Busters.
As soon as she was given the go-ahead to paddle by her doctor, there was no holding her back. Helen developed an absolute passion for dragon boat racing. She was a driving force behind the Busters but also proved to be a very strong and talented elite paddler. She raced for the Worcester Dragons at national league meetings up and down the country and also for Great Britain in the 2008 and 2010 European Championships.
Listen to Martin, Helen's husband talk about carrying the Olympic torch and what it
meant to her.
In September 2009 Helen learnt that her cancer had spread. Faced with the news that she had a one-in-four chance of living to the end of the year, Helen dusted herself off, buckled down to daily intensive training sessions and was selected to paddle for Great Britain in the European Championships and came home with silver and bronze medals.
Faced with her new diagnosis, Helen also set about spreading her message of hope and inspiration to other breast cancer survivors. She was receiving support from the Hereford Breast Cancer Haven and was being treated by the Worcester Royal Hospital. To show her appreciation of the care she was receiving, she led a 32 mile sponsored walk between the Hereford Haven and the site of the planned specialist breast care unit in Worcester. Funds raised were shared between both projects.
Helen's final year
Helen got some bad news in October 2011 when she learnt that the breast cancer had spread to her brain. Having been told that she would be lucky to see Christmas 2011, she was then offered brain surgery at Bristol’s Frenchay hospital. This gave Helen the opportunity for a momentous final year. At the beginning of June, no longer able to paddle, she led the Worcester Busters from the drummer’s seat as they took part in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Thames Pageant and later in June she ran Worcester’s Race for Life. In July backed by a cheering group of friends and supporters, Helen proudly bore the Olympic torch.
Helen is survived by her husband Martin, who was always by her side as she strove to live her life to the full and give hope and inspiration to others. She will be remembered for her boundless enthusiasm, her love of life, her phenomenal positive attitude, and her deep interest & care for others. We miss her terribly.