'I feel so empowered' - Leeds Cancer Centre charity headshave for mum starting treatment

Helen Stewart is a mum, step-mum and proud nana - and just one of the many people receiving the support of Leeds Cancer Centre medics in the midst of the pandemic.

Thursday, 4th February 2021, 8:21 am

While the Covid-19 has changed everyone's lives over the past year, it has not stopped the efforts of Leeds Hospitals Charity to ensure that people with cancer get the best possible care.

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In 2020, it was able to give £516,550 towards projects at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust that would support cancer patients and their families.

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The Yorkshire Evening Post is asking readers to support the Help Your Hospitals campaign by becoming a friend of Leeds Hospitals Charity.

Helen, 44, was diagnosed with breast cancer last summer and began her 166-day long treatment programme on January 21.

She said: "I was scared that I’d feel isolated during treatment, but from the first day I went in the staff have been brilliant, despite also dealing with the pandemic - they can’t do enough for you and always have a smile on their faces.”

Preparing for her treatment to begin, Helen was encouraged by daughter Ryanne to turn the shave preparation into a way to say thank you Leeds Cancer Centre - one of the eight locations supported by Leeds Hospitals Charity.

She bravely live-streamed her head shave on Facebook and - thanks to support from friends, family and even complete strangers - she raised more £3,000.

Helen Stewart, 44, has spoken about the support she has received from Leeds Cancer Centre since her diagnosis in the midst of the pandemic.

"Throughout my cancer journey, there’s a lot of things I won’t have control of, but it was my choice to shave my head, rather than losing my hair during treatment," Helen said.

"I was worried I’d feel uncomfortable, that I’d lose my identity, but I feel so empowered."

As the dedicated charity of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Leeds Hospitals Charity provides an average of £5m each year towards equipment, services, education and research.

With more regular donors, it would be able to do even more to back projects that the NHS does not fund but which have the potential to do so much good for hospital staff and patients.

Helen Stewart shaved her head to raise funds for Leeds Cancer Centre before beginning her treatment last month.

A donation of £5 a month could help fund free wigs for cancer patients like Helen, to help reduce the emotional turmoil of losing their hair with treatment.

It is just one of the reasons why the Yorkshire Evening Post hopes readers will support our Help Your Hospitals campaign by becoming a friend of the charity and helping to raise an additional £3m during 2021.

Text FRIEND to 70660 to donate £5 a month or visit leedshospitalscharity.org.uk to set up a regular donation for any sum or make a one-off gift to the charity.

Helen Stewart before her diagnosis with breast cancer last summer, left, and after shaving her head in preparation for her treatment beginning, right.

What is Leeds Hospitals Charity?

Leeds Hospitals Charity - previously known as Leeds Cares - is the dedicated charity for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

The charity works closely with the team of more than 18,000 people who work at our local hospitals to support projects that the NHS does not fund, helping to relieve pressure on staff and make a real difference to the experience of patients and their families.

With the support of generous donors, it makes that valuable contribution by raising funds for equipment, services, education and research.

The charity provides support for eight areas which include Leeds General Infirmary, Leeds Children’s Hospital, Leeds Cancer Centre, St James’s University Hospital, Chapel Allerton Hospital, Seacroft Hospital, Wharfdale Hospital and Leeds Dental Institute.

It supports NHS staff working at each of those locations to deliver the best care for more than a million patients and their families each year.

Working with local communities, schools and businesses across the city and beyond, it provides an average of £5m in additional funding for the trust each year.