“Helen and I went to high school together. I still remember the first time I saw her – I thought she was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. We became close at uni and have been that way since. Our families have grown up together, too. We were pregnant with our girls at the same time – they were born 10 days apart – and Helen is my daughter’s godmother.
Helen is such a positive person – you’d have to be to get through what she has. But there are dark times. I know she doesn’t want people to see them, but I’m glad she can share some with me.
There’s a sense of helplessness you have as a friend. Sometimes I don’t know what to say, but I’ve learnt that being there and listening is what matters. I remember she once said, “I’m so glad you’re in my children’s lives”; I replied, “Well, I’m glad you’re in my kids’ lives”. I knew what she really meant, but I dismissed it, and that was so unfair. I’ve learnt to accept what she says, and that it’s OK to sit and listen, and cry with her.
Before Helen was diagnosed, I didn’t know much about ovarian cancer. I had this assumption that a pap smear picks it up, so I didn’t realise there wasn’t an early warning test. Helen knew something was wrong and kept going back to her doctor. It was like they were going through their checklist, and ovarian cancer was last. Maybe it should be higher up the list.
These days, Helen is less worried about what others think, and she’s prioritised what’s important – her family was always number one, but it’s even more important now.
When I see her speaking at events, I’m so proud of her. To get up in front of people and talk is scary enough, but to know what she’s been through to get there, I have absolute respect and admiration, and I think, that’s my friend.”