Here is Helen's experience:
I’ve always wanted to swim the channel since I was a child, it’s a dream that was up there on my bucket list. More people have made it to the summit of Everest than swam the channel. 4 years ago I put in place a plan to achieve it and was making good progress towards it, but then in July 2016 I was diagnosed with angiosarcoma of the breast. With two young children who were then only 3 and 5 years old, it was both devastating and isolating to receive this diagnosis. The surgical care I had was second to none, and following an initial lumpectomy I discussed my swimming ambition with my surgeon who agreed to a newer type of reconstruction for my mastectomy the next month, which would lessen the impact on muscle & tissues in my chest & back area.
After 4 months out to recover from both surgeries, I knew that I would have to postpone my dream for a year to give myself time to not only get back to the level of training I was doing pre diagnosis, but to up my game significantly for the challenge of the channel. This year my life has revolved around my outdoor swimming training, being in the water 5-6 times a week. In late August we had our slot and had to wait 10 days for the weather to be favourable and then we got our chance. It was a magical experience and I loved every moment of it – towards the end I wasn’t ready for it to end! When we reached France, Kevin and I were elated, exhausted and almost every other emotion in between, we had made it!
I have been really touched by both the number of people who have donated money to Sarcoma UK for this, and by their generosity. My employer, Ecclesiastical Insurance very kindly matches all fundraising and the total will be in excess of £8,000 – more than I ever could have imagined. A huge thank you to every single person who has given, your donation will help make a difference, together we can change outcomes for people like me.