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Helen Cleaver loses long battle with cancer
A COURAGEOUS cancer patient who carried the Olympic torch and raised thousands of pounds for charity has died.
Helen Cleaver, from Little Witley, took part in the torch relay when it passed through Stratford-upon-Avon in July.
The 52-year-old lost her long battle with cancer on Friday.
She had been receiving treatment for aggressive secondary cancers after having breast cancer.
Mrs Cleaver was a keen fundraiser for cancer charities and was a founder member of the Worcester Busters Dragon Boat Racing team for breast cancer survivors and supporters.
She was nominated to take part in the Olympic torch relay by Lesley Leach, a community fundraiser at the breast cancer support centre the Haven in Hereford.
Mrs Cleaver first visited the centre in 2009 after being diagnosed with an aggressive secondary breast cancer, which had spread to her lungs and liver.
In December 2010, she helped raise more than £4,000 for the Haven and the new Worcestershire Breast Cancer Unit by organising a charity walk between the two centres.
She took up dragon boating in 2007 following her first diagnosis and helped to run the Worcester Busters dragon boat team for breast cancer survivors and supporters.
Mrs Cleaver also represented Great Britain in the European Championships in 2008 and 2010 while still in recovery and took home a silver and bronze medal on the last occasion.
She was also part of the Worcester Busters team which took part in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Regatta on the river Thames last June.
Mrs Cleaver was diagnosed with a brain tumour in October 2011, which was removed the following month, but returned last year.
Despite this, she was determined to take her place in history by completing her leg of the Olympic torch relay.
Speaking to your Worcester News in May last year, she said: “It was lovely to be nominated. I didn’t expect to be chosen.
“I want to do anything I can to reassure others there is life after breast cancer.
“It’s all thanks to the Haven secondary breast cancer group – they keep me fighting. We all get together and rally round each other. They’ve been a real support for me.”
Speaking today, Mrs Leach, who worked closely with Mrs Cleaver to organise the walk, said she refused to let her cancer hold her back.
She said: “[Helen] was amazing. She was very positive. She was a real mind over matter person. Nothing would get in her way. If she had a goal, she would make it."