IT was the experience of looking after her mum who suffered from multiple sclerosis that drew Helen Savage to a career in nursing.
Mrs Barbara Savage was diagnosed with the condition when her daughter was two and she died nine years later.
“I helped my dad, Michael, look after mum. She had MS for most of my childhood and died in a nursing home,” said Helen who grew up in Rastrick and Lightcliffe and attended Rastrick High School from 1987 to 1994. While she was studying she worked at weekends at Manor House Nursing Home, Lightcliffe, which strengthened her determination to go into a caring profession.
“I was really only interested in nursing as a career,” said Helen who is now, at the age of 35, a clinical nurse specialist in the gyynaecology team at Christie Hospital in Manchester.
She trained as a registered nurse in 1997 at Salford University and started working with the Macmillan team at Christie’s in 2008.
Now she has teamed up with one of her colleagues and a patient to organise a fundraiser in aid of cervical cancer research.
Helen, her colleague Diane Thornton and patient Louise Hassall, who is being treated for cervical cancer, are organising a sponsored walk in aid of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust. The 5km walk will take place at Dunham Massey near Altrincham on June 16 - a date which links in with national cervical cancer awareness and prevention week.
“Through my work I have become quite involved with Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust which is based in London. So far 30 people have signed up for the walk - the biggest number outside London.
“We have been trying to get the message out about the work of the trust and our helpline which provides such a valuable service to women.”
Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer for women under the age of 35 and Helen is keen to emphasise how important it is that women have regular smear tests and seek help as soon as any abnormality is suspected.
“Often women are slow to come forward when they think something is wrong. They are busy with jobs, children and families and they tend to put their own health second.
“We know from the women we help how useful it is to have someone to talk to when they get a diagnosis of cancer. We have the national helpline up-and-running and we are working on getting a support group going.
“Christie is at the forefront of cancer treatment in the UK and Europe and great strides are being made in the field of research all the time.”
Helen’s dad Michael, who lives in Lower Crow Nest Drive, Lightcliffe, is planning to take part in the 5km walk and has been sponsored by regulars at the Red Rooster pub, Brookfoot.
“He’s very supportive of me and always interested in my work,” said Helen who regularly travels back to Calderdale from her home in Stockport to meet up with her friends in Rastrick.
To find out more information visit the website at jostrust.org.uk/walkforfun