Mum with incurable cancer and best friend of 'beacon of light' Karen Henderson sets up fund in her name

An Edinburgh mum with incurable cancer who lost best friend to the disease has told how brave Karen “will continue to inspire her every day”.

Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 4:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 5:07 pm
Best friends Karen and Lisa
Best friends Karen and Lisa

Heartbroken Lisa Fleming, who is due to have her fourteenth cancer surgery, has vowed to “keep up the fight” to honour the memory of Karen Henderson.

Tributes have poured out for mum-of-one Karen, from Dalkeith, who died on Feb 11 age 48. Karen, who was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer in May 2016, fronted a campaign urging the government not to forget cancer patients.

Before she passed away she wrote a final letter to her husband Alistair, telling him she was “off to dance with the stars in the sky”.

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Breast buddies, Lisa and Karen

Now Lisa, 38, who described Karen as "always smiling and vivacious” has set up a fund in her name to keep her memory alive.

Lisa, mum to Cameron, eight, said she became “breast buddies” with Karen as they went through treatment together.

She said: "I’m still struggling to come to terms with her loss. She was such a big part of my life, as one of my best friends and as an ambassador of my charity too.

“It’s still very raw, but I’m back at it and back to work. I got up this morning and put on something nice before going to chemo. Karen would approve. She always gave 110 per cent. She will continue to inspire me every day.”

Lisa was diagnosed with with metastatic, known as secondary, breast cancer almost four years ago after suffering persistent backache. She is still undergoing weekly treatment and is due to have surgery for the fourteenth time. But she says helping others through her charity Make 2nds Count, keeps her going.

Set up by Lisa two years ago the charity has raised over £600,000 for research into metastatic breast cancer. She now has set her sights on raising £1 million.

She said: “It has been a rollercoaster few years and my cancer is now stable. I just throw myself into the work.

“Karen was like that. So determined to turn the card that she was dealt into a positive. We sat next to each other in the ward. I felt down today going in knowing she wouldn’t be there. We developed such a strong bond. We used to call each other ‘breasties’.”

"I set up this fund in Karen’s name to keep her memory alive. Her passion keeps me going. I made a promise to her that I’d keep up the fight, keep raising money and awareness. She deserves that. It’s what she would have wanted.”

The fund has already reached £5000 from donations made at Karen’s funeral. Lisa added: “It shows how loved she truly was. Even when she was going through the most awful of times she kept on smiling. There was one time in the ward when we had a break after getting bloods done. Karen went off shopping. We laughed about it. She cracked me up! She always looked impeccable. The last time I saw her she looked beautiful, her hair and makeup all done. When she walked in she always just lit up the room. She was such a special lady. I will never forget that smile.”

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