Helen is Nienke's best friend. She's 15 years old and lives in Almere, in the Netherlands . Her mother got breast cancer when she was 8 years old. When breast cancer is found in an early stage, the tumor can be removed from the breast. Helen's mother wasn't in this position, and her breast needed to be amputated. After one year of chemotherapy and operations she was cured. After that she has had operations for two years to make everything beautiful.
"My parents told it to my little brother and sister when my mother was being operated. I knew it before, and I told it to my class. We talked about it a lot, and we discussed about what was going to happen. All my classmates wanted to understand that my mother was ill, but they didn't feel the things I felt. I couldn't compare it with anything and that made it very difficult for my friend to understand it. Someone can really imagine it and have the same feelings, if he/she has been in the same situation. Yet, my friends were there for me and they helped me a lot."
"My father was a lot in the hospital with my mother. Family or my parents friends were at home to look after us. At a moment my father started to work more, and I took care of my brother and sister. I didn't mind. My father was at home after the second chemotherapy, because my mother got sick of the chemos."
"Nowadays everything is fine with my mother, and everything looks beautiful. It is a fact that breast cancer is heritable. That is why I have to see a doctor twice a year after my 18th birthday. This can only be done when I'm 18 years old, because my body has finished growing. I don't take special steps to prevent cancer. I think smoking is disgusting, so I don't do that anyway."
Helen's tip for youngsters is that you better not ask your friend or classmate what is going on, because he/she will come to you after a time when he/she is ready for it. She thinks it isn't good to push; then a person might feel forced to talk about it.
These days youngsters in the Netherlands swear a lot with cancer. Helen doesn't take this personal. She thinks that those who swear with it, show no respect but ‘she annoys them'. If someone swears with cancer and later cancer is found by friends or family he/she will find out that it's stupid to swear with it. In the past Helen swore with it also, but that was because she thought she felt better afterwards. This seemed true for a while. But after a time she found out that it wasn't the right way to deal with her emotions. "I was hiding myself behind a word, I didn't want to talk about it. Now I realise that it would have been better if I did."