FRIENDS have paid tribute following the death of a cancer patient who made headlines by publishing pictures of her face after it was ravaged by the disease.
Helen Butchart was diagnosed with sinus cancer in early 2015 and despite losing half her face, including an eye, to the disease released pictures in a bid to raise money.
The 55-year-old florist was given the news that her disease had returned and was terminal a month before Christmas.
The brave mum of four from Lochgelly, Fife, bravely attended a fund-raising fashion show the next day and gave an inspiring speech without once mentioning her own devastating news.
Helen – known by many of her friends by her maiden name of Wilson – died at home on Tuesday afternoon.
Helen raised almost £30,000 for charity before dying, including over £4,000 for Circle of Comfort, a Fife charity which gives free complementary therapy treatments to cancer patients.
The charity’s founder, Roseann Haig, said: “There are many special people but Helen’s bravery was astounding.
“I met her and it was like I had known her for always.
“She came to us as a client and she raised a tremendous amount of money.
“She was at a fashion show the day after she heard the cancer had come back. There were never any tears, even afterwards when she told me.”
Roseann added: “She was a very positive, honest and sincere person. She was a very beautiful woman. – sadly the cancer scarred her face.
“But I think she took it on like she took on life – she didn’t hide from it. She didn’t go under the covers.
“That illustrates the measure of her. Not a lot of people could do what she did.”
“The fact she managed to see Christmas, to be with the family for Christmas and new year, I’m sure that’s given them some comfort.”
Michelle Willmer, 38, runs a beauty salon in Lochgelly across the road from Helen’s flower shop.
She said: “Myself and all the girls are all so shocked at Helen’s passing.
“We were so shocked when the cancer came back. We thought she had turned a corner so to think that she got another knock is just heartbreaking.
“It’s such a sad loss especially to someone so young. She fought so hard and right to the end so not to come through the other end is just so sad.”
Following her cancer diagnosis, Helen underwent radiotherapy and medics grafted bone from her shoulder blade to her face after the rare cancer ate into her right cheekbone, right eye and palate.
Her husband John, was among family with her at the end but was too upset to speak yesterday (Wednesday).
Her sister-in-law Elaine Wilson, confirmed: “Helen passed away peacefully at home with the family.”
Friends on social media paid tribute to the mum of four.
One wrote: “Helen you’ll always be missed – missing the banter already. Lots of love.”
Another posted: “You were an incredible woman,thinking of helping others when you were so ill yourself and achieving an amazing amount of money for your charity page.”
One said: “One courageous lady, gone too soon.”
Helen’s fundraising page can be accessed at: www.justgiving.com/Helen-Wilson2809