She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2002 aged just 29. She has a family history of breast cancer and had undergone genetic testing when she was 21. It had been decided that as she was found to carry the faulty gene, she would have preventive breast surgery at age 30. As a result of an appointment to discuss the imminent surgery, she was found to have a breast lump. This turned out to be cancerous and so Helen underwent an immediate mastectomy with reconstruction. She had extensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy and a year later went back into hospital to have the other breast removed as a preventive measure.