A POLICE officer will run five half-marathons in five days to thank the medics who have tackled his wife’s life-threatening cancer.
Helen Henderson’s future hung in the balance when she was diagnosed with a tumour the size of a fist in April last year – just eight months after she married husband Phil.
But after a gruelling year of lifesaving treatment, the 29-year-old is on the road to recovery.
Phil, 29, is now planning to cover 65.5 miles next week with friend Gareth Foreman, 28, in aid of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.
The detective constable with Hartlepool CID says the epic challenge is a thank-you to the professionals who have cared for Helen throughout her ordeal.
Phil, who lives in the Deer Park area of town, said: “I knew very little about cancer before this happened. But when you see what is happening and what people can do, it’s incredible.
“The help we have been given is second to none, but a lot has been through charities and now we want to do our bit.”
The first of their 13.1 mile runs starts at 9am on Monday, March 26, and will see them head from West Hartlepool Rugby Club, who they both play for, to West View Road and over to the Headland, down to the marina and across to Seaton Carew.
They will then head along Coronation Drive and finish in the town centre at Church Square – before doing it all again for the next four days.
Phil and Gareth, a process operator from the Brierton Lane area of town, have already raised £4,500, including £800 from a police charity golf tournament, and are hoping to boost the fund further in the coming days.
Phil said: “Everyone has been really supportive – friends, family and at work.
“It’s been a difficult year. It started very bleak and the future looked dark. But as days have progressed we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“The people who have helped us have made it that little bit easier.”
Helen first realised she had a problem when she got unbearable neck and arm pains before developing a cough and starting to lose her voice.
Originally, medics thought she had a trapped nerve and chest infection.
But X-rays led to her being admitted to the University Hospital of Hartlepool with what was thought to be a rare form of cancer that had tangled itself around her nerves and arteries.
Biopsies showed it was the treatable lymphoma. More positive news came when scans revealed that it hadn’t spread to her bones or the rest of her body.
Much of Helen’s treatment was then at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, where she underwent six rounds of chemotherapy, losing her hair in the process.
After just three rounds, a halfway scan revealed that the tumour had been stopped in its tracks.
Helen then went on to receive radiotherapy at James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, before being given stem cell treatment at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital in November.
Helen, an occupational therapist, said: “I am feeling well in myself and the doctors have said that is the best sign that things are going well.
“I feel ready to get on with my life.”
The couple are also looking forward to celebrating at a glittering charity ball at their wedding venue to raise money for Cancer Research UK and North Tees.
It’s to be held at Gisborough Hall on April 5 – almost exactly a year from when she was first diagnosed.
The couple are hopeful that doctors will have confirmed Helen is in remission by then.
● To support the charity runs, visit Phil’s Just Giving page at www.justgiving.com/philip-henderson and Gareth’s at www.justgiving.com/gareth-foreman