Courage to carry on cancer campaign

Canal walkers leaving the Three Locks pub at Stoke Hammond
Canal walkers leaving the Three Locks pub at Stoke Hammond

A fiancée who thought she had beaten cancer and was about to settle down with the love of her life has been told that her brain tumour has come back.

Nicole Witts, 42, had her tumour successfully removed following her original diagnosis in 2008.

Nicole Witts at Saturday's walk, with elder daughter Megan, fianc� Phil and Poppy the dog

Nicole Witts at Saturday's walk, with elder daughter Megan, fianc� Phil and Poppy the dog

But just as she was moving into a new family home with partner Phil Phillips, she was told the devastating news that the tumour had regrown.

Nicole, who took part in a brain tumour awareness walk along the Grand Union Canal on Saturday, said: “It was heart-breaking to find out that it had returned. It took me two days to cry and be upset, but my outlook is just to live life and do positive things ... things you enjoy.

“They’ve told me the tumour is inoperable because it’s on the optic nerve. The only thing they can do is to give me radiotherapy which will shrink the tumour, but eventually it will take me.”

Last year, Nicole finally found the one when she met Phil, 35. The couple had been looking forward to a new life together when they got the shock news.

Nicole, who lives in Soulbury, said: “Phil is incredible, so supportive and as well as being my soulmate, he’s determined to stand side-by-side with me to raise awareness.”

And she was given added strength after her diagnosis when Phil got down on one knee and proposed while on a mediterranean cruise.

The mum-of-two said: “It was planned for the cruise – he’d told me he wanted to do it and make sure it was the right time and place for me – but it was also a surprise, I didn’t expect it on the captain’s table of the ship!

“When Phil got the ring out, everyone gasped and he automatically put it straight back in his pocket. The captain had to tap him on the shoulder and remind him he was supposed to give it to me!

“It was quite funny, but brilliant, so moving, and I’m very, very lucky to have this and the friends that we’ve made, getting engaged and planning our wedding is just wonderful.”

Nicole will undergo six weeks of radiotherapy which it is hoped will shrink the tumour before getting married at Soulbury Church next year. Since moving there, the couple have been touched by the kindness they have been shown by the community.

Nicole said: “We’ve gotten to know the people of Soulbury and they couldn’t have been more supportive, even the pub here had the flyer up about Brain Tumour Research and they’ve been brilliant.”

On Saturday, Nicole braved her illness to take part in a 12-mile walk along the canal between Stoke Hammond and Leignton with charity Brain Tumour Research to raise awareness, something which she cares deeply about.

She said: “More children and adults under the age of 40 die of a brain tumour than any other cancer, yet research into this disease receives just 1 per cent of national cancer research spending.”

In spite of feeling unwell beforehand, she managed to walk the full 12 miles with other representatives of Brain Tumour Research, some of who have also been touched by brain tumours. Wearing their pink t-shirts they attracted cheers from passers by as they walked along the canal.

Nicole was joined on the walk by Phil and her elder daughter, 11-year-old Megan, who is also passionate about raising awareness into the condition.

Less than 20 per cent of people diagnosed with a brain tumour are alive after five years. Nicole’s younger daughter Ellen, seven, was born shortly before her mother was first diagnosed and Nicole credits being a mum with helping her to survive.

She said: “At times, it was only the thought of my two gorgeous girls that kept me motivated to carry on.”

Nicole is currently on number 201 of a large bucket list she wrote when she was first diagnosed, One of her biggest goals is to plant a tree for Brain Tumour Research.

She said: “Near where I live, there is a millenium tree that I pass when I’m out walking the dog. If I was taken and my life did go, I would like another tree planted for Brain Tumour Research so that people would realise that it’s a serious thing.”

Nicole has already gotten in touch with the council for permission and Lady Bonsor of Soulbury has agreed to plant the tree in a special ceremony.

Nicole said: “For me to have that tree there, it would feel like I’m still there raising awareness, making a difference even after I’ve gone.”

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