A mother with a rare form of gynaecological cancer is urging others to support a project to help fight major diseases.
Helen O’Sullivan, 54, of Vron near Wrexham, has signed up to the HealthWise Wales study, which aims to help researchers develop better treatments for a range of conditions.
Helen collapsed at home on her 31st birthday and was rushed to hospital where doctors discovered a large mass on her right ovary which they originally thought was a cyst – but after operating they discovered Helen was suffering from low grade malignant ovarian granulosa cell tumour (GCT).
On her 50th birthday, the pain returned once again and doctors discovered the same tumour had been growing. After an intensive consultation involving different departments, the mass was removed and Helen was advised to come back every six months for review.
The cancer is non-aggressive but Helen will need to attend the six-monthly checks for the rest of her life through the support of the NHS.
She said: “I don’t think the NHS treatment could have been better. Throughout my treatments, I had a Macmillan nurse to support me, from picking up the phone to just checking how I was doing, I couldn’t fault it. Even though both instances were 20 years apart, my treatment couldn’t have been better.
“Throughout the years, my family have really stepped up to the plate. I have quite honestly got the best husband in the world and without the support of him and my two children it would have been a lot harder to get through.”
People aged 16 and over and living in Wales are being asked to complete short questionnaires every six months as part of HealthWise Wales, a project led by Cardiff University and backed by the Welsh Government.
It’s the first scheme in Wales to build a picture of future health needs. It gathers detailed information from people of all ages and backgrounds which will be used to plan future health services.
Participants will also be contacted about new research studies that they can take part in should they wish to do so.
Helen signed up to the study as it could be her way of giving back after receiving years of support from the NHS.
She said: “HealthWise Wales allows you to have your say in what health services are available. By telling them what’s needed, they will have a clearer idea on how to help plan our future health needs.
“My message to others is to just to sign up now.”
For more information visit www.healthwisewales.gov.wales or call the HealthWise Wales team on 0800 9 172 172/ 02920 768 090 between 8am and 7pm, Monday to Friday.