Cancer sufferer too tired to manage our Starlight Walk

St Luke's patient Helen Bale
St Luke's patient Helen Bale
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AS a keen runner and fundraiser, Helen Bale would love to sign up for the St Luke’s Hospice 40th anniversary Starlight Walk.

But Helen is suffering from a cancer that has taken over her body, and is now able to do little more than walk the few yards to the end of her street without feeling exhausted.

As a regular visitor to the hospice’s Therapies and Rehabilitation Centre she knows only too well just how much St Luke’s can add to the lives of people like her.

And that’s why she wants as many people as possible to sign up for the 5km walk from Endcliffe Park to Forge Dam and back on May 21 to help raise at least £50,000 towards the costs of maintaining end of life care in Sheffield.

She said: “In the past I have done a few charity things – the Great North Run and the Race for Life.

“But I know now that I won’t have the energy to take part in the Starlight Walk so perhaps other people could do it for me!

“St Luke’s is entirely dependent on the support of the public and it does offer such a lot of support to both patients and their families – that’s why I know how important it is to become involved in the Starlight Walk.”

The 61-year-old former careers adviser from Nether Edge was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001.

For the next few years it looked like the cancer had been beaten but in 2009, just as she was about to fulfil a lifelong ambition to visit Peru, Helen was told the disease had returned.

It spread quickly to her lungs, liver and bones. Helen admitted that she initially felt cheated and angry when she was given her prognosis, but decided to tackle the news with a straightforward, practical approach – an approach that would take her to St Luke’s.

She said: “I’m a single parent so I have to plan for the future, not just for myself but for my daughter, Kiya.

“I’ve been told that although nothing is certain, I may now have only up to a year left to live, but whatever happens, I have to be organised.”

Part of that planning process was getting a referral to the Therapies and Rehabilitation Centre, which she attends once a week for reflexology and physiotherapy sessions, receiving valuable support of the whole St Luke’s team.

“I’m only a patient because I asked to be,” Helen said. “Part of my forward planning is that I’d rather die at St Luke’s than at home if I can, especially as my daughter is still young and I don’t want to have to put her through that experience.

“I know you can’t always choose these things but that’s my wish and the hospice knows that.”

She has even taken it a step further and put plans in place for her funeral, booking an undertakers and picking out the music she would like to be played at the service.

Helen said: “I could go to bed and pull the duvet up over my head but why would I want to do that? I have a lot to go on living for and I want to live as well as I can for as long as I can – and when the end comes, I want it to come with good music.”

To support patients like Helen by taking part in The Starlight Walk log on to www.stlukeshospice.co.uk, email info@hospicesheffield.co.uk or call 0114 2357594 to sign up.