Woman with terminal cancer given all clear after receiving pioneering new treatment
Truly remarkable news
A woman from Wales was given the all-clear from terminal cancer after undergoing pioneering new treatment.
Helen Wynne Hughes from Ruthin in Denbighshire is a married mother of three, and received the new treatment as a last resort when all other avenues had been exhausted.
Speaking to the BBC, Hughes said she had already experienced the pain of informing her children she would not be around in the long-term. Just a few months ago, she began crafting memory boxes as a parting gift to her three children.
She said: "I had to tell them 'perhaps it is mummy's last Christmas'.
"They are so small, it was very hard. Making memory boxes, looking back thinking I might not get to do things with them again."
Roughly two years ago, in December 2018, scans revealed Helen had a cancerous growth on her chest the size of a grapefruit.
She underwent chemotherapy right away, and only briefly left hospital over Christmas to see her children. She soon returned when the illness began to take a hold.
Not long after her first diagnosis, Helen gave birth. She credits the work of Mummy's Star to keeping her going throughout her ordeal.
Mummy's Star is a charity helping pregnant women undergoing treatment for cancer. Helen told JOE that this charity "helped me to connect with other mothers going through similar experiences".
In autumn 2019, Helen and her family received the crushing news that the cancer had spread to her liver, lungs and bones. Doctors told her to prepare for the worst. She was given the unenviable task of having to tell her children that she may not be around for much longer.
But all was not lost. A breakthrough was on the horizon.
Early this year, she was told she was eligible for Chimeric Antigen Receptors Cell Therapy (CAR-T), a pioneering new treatment which uses the body's own cells to attack cancer directly.
Previously, Helen and her husband Elgan had tried to save up enough money to go private - but the bill amounted to £500,000.
The treatment was aggressive, and took a tough physical toll on Helen's body.
She said: "I couldn't remember who I was, I couldn't eat and I couldn't walk properly but it was all worth it."
However, just last week Helen was given the all clear, and can now look forward to spending Christmas at home with her young family.
"When the doctor said it was clear... we were in tears. Finally, there was no cancer at all."
Helen is also campaigning to raise awareness of DKMS, a nonprofit organisation leading the charge against blood cancer, and in the development of stem cell research.