'I was told I was cancer free. A month later, doctors said it was terminal'

Nicola Carnall, selfie from above, with black polkadot blouse on and shaved head with very short hair
-Credit: (Image: Nicola Carnall)

When Nicola Carnall rung the bell on the oncology ward on May 28, a wave of relief swept through her body. The previous six months - the "worst of her life" - had been marked by nausea and lethargy and eight gruelling, relentless rounds of chemotherapy to get rid of her breast cancer.

It had worked, she was told. An MRI scan revealed that she'd responded well to the treatment, the lump on her breast had gone and no other cancer had been found.

All that was left to do was have the bed on which the tumour had grown surgically removed. A blood test, ordered by her surgeon, should have ve revealed that she was safe to be anaesthetised and the last step in the process was a-go.

But when the surgeon came back from the results lab, Nicola knew. "I'm ever so sorry..."

"I was hysterical," says Nicola, 36. "I managed to walk outside. My partner was waiting to pick me up. Then I just buckled. He jumped out the car so fast and just held me."

Nicola's cancer had not, in fact, gone. Instead, it had spread, to her liver, in the form of a 14-by-2 centimetre tumour - bigger than the one had ever been on her breast. And this one wasn't curable.

"I can't change it," she says steadfastly. "I might as well enjoy what I can."

It was only in December last year that Nicola was given the news of her original diagnosis. She'd been told the lump on her breast was a cyst by the GP, who'd sent her home with antibiotics.

But she returned a week later and was referred to a clinic. It was there that she had an ultrasound and a specialist told her the lump looked "suspicious".

Nicola says she knew at that point. A phone call asking her to come to the hospital and to "bring someone" to receive the results of a biopsy made it quite clear.

For the new diagnosis, on Saturday, June 29, she was on her own. In the days since, Nicola, from Ilkeston, says she's cried all her tears.

The horrendous, heartbreaking news is just another of tragic suffering her family has been victim to in just three months. Her brother-in-law, Phil, survived a cardiac arrest in April.

And her nine-year-old niece was diagnosed with incurable metastatic cancer just weeks before she was, in June.

Now, Nicola awaits a phone call. On it, she'll be told what comes next.

It is likely to be more chemotherapy. While the cancer isn't curable, it is treatable and if done correctly, her life expectancy could be increased to around five years.

Without it, she'd have ten months. She's now set up a fundraising page; she hopes, that with a bit of help, she may be able to fulfil a few of her life's dreams before time is up.

You can donate here.