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Friends and family pay tribute to 'beacon of light' Helen Mckee

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The death of well-known and loved Wisbech woman Helen McKee, on Friday (10) has been described by friends and family as losing a beacon of light.

Helen, a former employee with the Fenland Citizen, sadly passed away at the age of 42, after a brave battle with breast cancer in hospital in King's Lynn.

Originally from Newcastle, born to Vivienne and Michael, Helen contributed to the local community greatly as an original member of the Up And Out Running Club in Outwell, as a founding member of 'The Friends of the Fens' social group, which united over 100 members, and for a period of time was on the committee of The Friends Of The Wisbech Institute, but failing health meant she had to withdraw from these commitments.

Helen McKee who sadly died on Friday after a battle with secondary breast cancer. (57298244)
Helen McKee who sadly died on Friday after a battle with secondary breast cancer. (57298244)

Helen, who was a passionate cat lover, with three rescued felines sharing the family home with her and husband James Ward, was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in 2019.

Among those paying tribute to Helen, was long-term friend Stephanie Laver, who said Helen's family are heartbroken over her loss and described her as "truly inspiring” since she was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer three years ago.

Steph was among a group of friends who helped organise a successful fundraising coffee morning in March this year, at the Secret Garden in Wisbech, for the specialist cancer charity Make 2nds Count, which is dedicated to supporting women and men living with secondary breast cancer.

Helen worked with Steph at the National Farmers' Union Insurance in Wisbech for a number of years before moving to work as a commercial account handler at two insurance brokers; R A Cowens in Peterborough, and Clear Insurance in Pinchbeck, whilst she studied very hard to achieve a chartered DipCII (insurance) qualification.

She had been feeling unwell for many years before the diagnosis, however she did not notice the typical tell-tale signs of breast cancer, but had global pain particularly in her bones and doctors mistakenly believed she had lupus.

When she finally did find a lump she was sadly at stage 4 breast cancer and was told there was not a lot that could be done as it had already spread around her body including to her lymph nodes and bones with an initial prognosis of six months to two years.

She married James in a dream ceremony last August after bringing their wedding forward because of the diagnosis. The couple had been together for over 10 years and Helen was step mum to Amy and James.

Steph said: "Her outlook on life changed after the diagnosis and she took nothing for granted, making every day count. She was also keen to raise awareness of secondary breast cancer, because it is not talked about much."

Others stepping in to pay tribute included the Holbeach Film Company.

A spokesperson for the group said: "It is with the greatest sadness that one of our most wonderful, beloved and beautiful friends and actresses of Holbeach Films has sadly passed away."

And stated how she "had a heart of gold with a warmth and smile that would light up any room. A truly wonderful girl who was one in a million, and one that you might be lucky enough to meet once in a lifetime".

Steph added: "Everyone who knew Helen, knew how special she was. She would light up a room with her smile and wicked sense of humour. We are all devastated to have lost such a bright star, heaven really has gained an angel."

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