‘Kind-hearted’ mum dies of cancer after being told back pain was caused by ‘old age’

Lena Weib

Helen Etheridge, 68, first complained of a pain in her back in October 2020, but this was put down as nothing more than a trapped nerve

Kind-hearted Helen Etheridge died of incurable stage four cancer

The devastated family of a mum who died of cancer just months after she was told she had a ‘trapped nerve’ have spoken of their heartbreak.

Helen Etheridge, 68, first complained of a pain in her back in October 2020, but this was put down as nothing more than a trapped nerve.

The mum-of-two, who lived in Crosby, said the pain was because of “old age”.

But during a trip to visit her sister in Hull in late January last year Helen became very ill with what doctors thought was a pulmonary embolism as she was coughing blood. Just days later she was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.

Helen’s son Alex told the Liverpool Echo that hearing his mum had cancer felt like a “punch to the stomach”.

Alex said his mum had previously been diagnosed with breast cancer a number of years before but it had been treated.

Alex said the family “clung onto the hope” Helen was going to be okay as she’d successfully been treated before but sadly by the time doctors diagnosed her lung cancer it had spread to other parts of her body including her brain.

Alex, 33, said: “There were no real symptoms apart from her back pain which was getting worse and worse. I sometimes look back and think maybe there were more signs but the doctors said it was just a trapped nerve so we thought she was fine.

“She just said the back pain was because she was old. It really escalated quickly after she was diagnosed though. It spread to the brain and you could tell she was very confused.

“When she was diagnosed it felt like a punch in the stomach. With cancer you try and cling onto a bit of hope but sadly we didn’t have that.”

Alex and his sister Jess made the journey from Liverpool to Hull everyday to see their mum in the hospital but after seeing how uncomfortable she was made the decision to move her into Dove House Hospice. Helen passed away just two days later.

Alex said the family felt a “sense of relief” when their mum went into the hospice.

He added: “I don’t know what I expected from a hospice but once you walk into one it’s just a place of peace.

“You feel at ease straight away and we knew we made the right decision to move mum there.”

Alex and Jess are currently undertaking a walk from Liverpool to Hull to raise money for the hospice where their mum spent her final days.

The pair set out from the street in Crosby where their mum lived and are walking the Transpenine Trail to Hull where they’ll arrive on Monday, April 11 – what would have been their mum’s 70th birthday.

Alex said the walk has been tough but it has given him and his sister a perfect chance to reflect on their mum’s life and remember the best memories.

He said: “She was a very straight-talking woman and extremely clever as well.

“She was very elegant and kind and she always went out of her way to make others happy. She loved looking after you and cooking for you.

“She was just a good kind-hearted woman.”

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