Nicola Hitchen entered the hospital with abdominal pain. Doctors initially diagnosed her with sepsis, but eventual scans found a tumor growing inside her stomach.
There was nothing the doctors could do but wait until the infection cleared. In that time, the tumor grew and spread.
After the growth of the tumor, doctors determined that Nicola had untreatable stage four cancer. Nicola was stunned by the diagnosis.
“It was such a shock. It proved really difficult to get rid of the abscess and, by the time the infection had gone I was told it was too late to treat the cancer,” Nicola said.
“Getting a diagnosis like that you can respond in one of two ways,” she added. “Either you accept this is what’s happening and sort your affairs out — or you start looking at other options.
“The first wasn’t an option for me.” Nicola was determined to fight for her life, and started seeking alternative forms of medicine.
Nicola tried everything to rid herself of the cancer. Eventually she found her answer in an experimental procedure in Turkey.
Months after her first session, the cancer started disappearing. The tumor in her abdomen was almost gone, and other tumors in her liver and spine shrunk significantly.
This is the point where Nicola’s luck seemed to run out. One thing’s for sure about groundbreaking cancer treatment: it isn’t cheap.
The first five sessions of the treatment cost Nicola £80,000. Funds were running low, and Nicola still needed around £50,000 to complete the procedures.
This is where Andy and Claire Hitchen came in. Andy is Nicola’s ex-husband, and Claire is his new wife.
Claire set up a fundraising account on Just Giving to get Nicola the £50,000 she needed to complete her treatment. Claire sees Nicola as a loving mother to the two boys she’s grown to love herself.
“Niki continues to put them first throughout all of her treatment. Joe and Jake are also amazing big brothers to our three year old daughter and she adores them as they do her,” she said.
“Money is running out and Niki may not be able to continue with her life-saving treatment,” Claire said. “This is not an option — the boys need their mum and she deserves the chance to watch them grow into men and have their own families.”
“I’m completely overwhelmed — everyone especially Claire has been amazing,” Nicola said in response to the campaign. “I didn’t think people liked me that much.”
As of this writing, the Just Giving account is up to £22,000, almost half of the amount needed for Nicola to finish her treatment. With the help of loved ones and strangers from around the world, Nicola will have the chance to see her two boys enter adulthood.