vivienne merchant

Helen's Spirit of Life page

Fundraising for Penny Brohn UK
In memory of Helen Merchant-Hanney
Penny Brohn UK

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RCN 284881
We offer personalised cancer care to people living with cancer across the UK


Thanks for taking the time to visit Helen's Spirit of Life Fundraising page.

Helen's Cava Club

In memory of Helen and to support this charity, we have created
 ‘Cava Club’ to raise funds for Penny Brohn Cancer Care in Bristol. 

Each member of the Cava Club donates £5 per month and is allocated a number. Each month one number will be selected randomly and that will be the WINNER  of the month.The prize will be £50 and a bottle of Cava sent to the winner's home address.The remainder of the fund will go straight to Helen’s Spirit of Life Fund and we can see the donation on this page. We had the first Cava Club draw on Helen’s birthday and then the 11th of each month following.

Penny Brohn Cancer Care believe that everyone affected by cancer should have access to life-changing complementary cancer care. The support offered is known as the ‘Bristol Approach’ and works alongside medical treatment to help people live well with cancer and improve their quality of life

Helen's Story

Helen was in her second year in Bath University in 2003 when she was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. Helen was studying for a BSc (Hons) degree in Sociology and Human Resource Management and living the life of a typical 21 year-old student.

The shock of the initial diagnosis was followed by Helen’s typical determination and strength. She began treatment at the Cromwell hospital in London followed by spells in The Wellington and later at London Bridge hospital. Her consultant, Ceiran Healy, ensured that Helen had the best treatment possible and her care at all times was first class.

All through her illness, which continued into her third and final years at University, she faced her cancer bravely, with courage and good humour and was a lasting inspiration to all who knew her.  During these years she lived with her University friends in Bath and later at Bristol and found great comfort and joy in the repartee and warmth that these friends brought her.

Helen also greatly benefited from Penny Brohn Cancer Care in Bristol and frequently made the journey from Bishopston and later Bath, to Pill for her healing, visualization and so many other therapies that Penny Brohn offered. Helen completely bought into Penny Brohn’s philosophy that everyone affected by cancer should have access to life changing complimentary care. She even convinced her consultants in the London hospitals of the benefits of this approach, and they too became advocates of the Penny Brohn approach of working with and alongside medical treatments to help people live well with cancer and improve their quality of life. 

Helen did indeed live well. She loved her University days, her friends, their cava-days (to celebrate good news or see-off the bad) and graduated with an upper second class honours degree from Bath University in 2004. She proudly held her degree in the Abbey at Bath on that summer day and felt that her cancer was at bay and indeed it was in remission at that time.

Helen started her first graduate job at Axa in Bristol that year and moved back in with some of her University friends in Bishopston. And then the cancer came back and spread first to her lungs and then to her brain. More visits to the Wellington and to the London Bridge with chemotherapy and then radiotherapy, all along making use of the support, guidance, friendliness and the healing therapies of Penny Brohn, as well as boyfriends and trips abroad – Geneva, Rome, Australia. Then, plans for marriage, brought forward when in April 2007, she was told by her consultant that she had little time left. 

With her typical focus, Helen brought her wedding forward. She was married on 14 May 2007 and left us on 24 July that year and was laid to rest in Oystermouth, Swansea.  St Benedict’s Church in Sketty, barely able to accommodate the over 300 people who came to her Requiem Mass. Her ‘temporary goodbye’ party on 31 July was planned by Helen before she left us and saw all her closest friends celebrate Helen’s life and all the joy and happiness she brought to them.

It was Helen’s wish that her friends and family continue to support Penny Brohn and to this end have set up, along with Penny Brohn, this  ‘Spirit of Life Fund’ in Helen’s name.

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About the charity

Penny Brohn UK

Verified by JustGiving

RCN 284881
Our experienced team of doctors, nutritionists, counsellors and therapists help people feel better in mind, body and spirit. From eating well and keeping active, to managing emotions and staying connected to the things we love.

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