My Friend Helen

back to school

As the last children return to school, it stirs my memory of being a Mum at the school gates.

My son was super proud, got up early, was dressed and ready by 7 for us to leave the house at 8!

The grandparents popped in to see their first grandchild off to school, we took photos on the lawn, and the air was full of excitement. The time passed in a blur, but every second counted.

We set off in the car, just us three, the fourth being minded by the grandparents, gosh don’t they come in handy.  I waved, I cried, I laughed and he was off. The first day done. My precious boy was out in the big wide world.

The chaotic days that followed

Such ceremony, such excitement, that of course waned as the weeks went by and realisation set in that this school thing was a permanent fixture. No more Power Rangers and toast, chasing the cat in the garden, drawing, painting, setting traps, playing cars. Now it was Maths, English, P.E kits, and change. He faired rather well, and I, with the help of my friend Helen, managed to scrape by!

My friend Helen was that ‘perfect mum at the gates’, dressed down casual, but done with style. Unlike me, there were no milk stains and un-ironed clothes on her. If her hair was scraped back into a ponytail, it was done with time to spare, not like mine – done as I left the house. And where I only had 2 children, Helen had 4! Her eyes would light up as she spoke of her older girls and her young sons. Her youngest son was in the same class as mine. Being boys, and being neighbours, they got on like a house on fire. Football, games, cars, nonsense, they laughed through it all.

My guiding light

In the midst of first-time school chaos, having a toddler and a school age child, Helen was there, steering me right. School forms? She knew what to write. After-school clubs? She picked the best days and shared the lifts. Minor issues? She had the advice. Helen was a complete comfort in those bewildering days because it wasn’t just my son who was adjusting! Helen was there with a coffee, a hug, the strong female support I needed.

If there was a handbook on mothering right, Helen must have written it. Four children, all balanced, happy, and achieving, while she still maintained a life. Helen’s kids were the kind of kids who did well, they performed in hit shows, had successful relationships, got scholarships, went to Cambridge. Helen in the meantime was setting up a wonderful business of supporting new mums. Life was perfect.


The shock of Cancer

So, if there was a last person to pick whose life you’d expect to unravel, it would not be Helen. But, as bad things happen sometimes, it was. In a devasting blow that would rock her family, her eldest daughter Lisa was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer, a stage 4 cancer, 29th May 2017.

Lisa was just 33 with a 4-year-old son, Cameron. The shock that fell on Lisa and husband Euan, is best explained in Lisa’s own words.

Let’s throwback to May 28th 2017, life is crazy (in an organised chaos type of way). Family of three making plans for the future. May 29th 2017, I am diagnosed ‘de novo’ with primary and secondary breast cancer. Life changes forever – Lisa Fleming

On discovering that just 5-9% of all money donated to Breast Cancer went into researching secondary cancer, and in true Helen style, she started Scottish charity, Make2ndsCount. The charity launched in style at Prestonfield House 30th May 2018, and all proceeds go straight into researching secondary breast cancer. Lisa has been raised to achieve.

As her journey continues, Lisa has amassed a following online, with the alias @Stage_4_Fighter, her posts include her ‘#scanxiety’, anxiety brought on by scans, and the gut-wrenching #resultsday, which needs no explanation.

She’s a very brave, strong and inspiring young lady, let’s help make every second count with her.

Read more of Lisa’s story and donate here. 

Karlie Simmonds

Karlie has worked in Digital Media for over 10 years, she is passionate about health and wellbeing and lives in Edinburgh with her partner, children, and Pug, Poppy.