NIKKI Henderson felt a lump beneath her armpit as she was showering. Within a fortnight she was told she had breast cancer.

“They did a mammogram and an ultrasound,” said mum-of-two Nikki. “I was told there and then to expect the worst.”

Her first reaction to the diagnosis in March last year was “absolute fear and shock”. 

“My first thoughts were for my children,” said the Stratton mum. 

“At that moment I thought, ‘Oh my god, I’m going to die and my children are going to lose their mum.’

“Nobody every expects the diagnosis. But everybody I have known in the past with breast cancer have always been older.” 

At her next appointment Nikki, then 40, met cancer specialists, who set out her likely course of treatment: chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy. 

Nikki said: “From that moment, I was so determined to get through it.”

The “happy-go-lucky” mum was keen to carry on as normal as much as she could. She continued working – and was reluctant to break the news to her two sons, aged four and eight.

She battled six cycles of chemotherapy, starting the first just a month after she found the first lump. 

Doctors discovered that the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes – a vital part of the body’s infection-fighting system.

The cancers were cut out of Nikki by surgeons.

Then followed three weeks of radiotherapy, involving daily trips to Oxford’s Churchill Hospital. 

Nikki said: “Every day I was at Oxford. Luckily I could drive, but there were so many family and friends I was able to get lifts.” 

She finished the course of radiotherapy on December 4 – just in time for Christmas: “That was when I cried the most. It was a massive relief.”

But the end of her treatment threw up a new problem for Nikki: “I was so well looked after by the NHS. I was so used to hospitals. It was my comfort blanket.” 

She felt “really scared” to finish the treatments. 

Nikki is yet to receive the official all clear: “It’s obviously a worry [that it might come back]. It’s always on my mind. It doesn’t go away.”

She added of going through cancer: “It has changed my life forever.”
Now, Nikki wants to change the lives of other people going through cancer – for the better. 

She’s fundraising for Brighter Futures, the hospital charity aiming to raise £2.9 million for a new radiotherapy centre at the Great Western Hospital

“I had to make that round trip to Oxford every day and although I was lucky enough to have somebody driving me, it’s a tiring journey. Cancer seems to be becoming so common. At some point, everybody’s going to be affected by it. 

“I think Swindon, being the size that it is, it’s such a shame that we don’t have that radiotherapy centre.”

Together with twin sister Kerry Mancari, Nikki will be hosting a charity fundraiser at Swindon Supermarine on March 24, 2pm-5pm. The free event will feature raffles, tombola, a bouncy castle and teas.

She will also be running the Brighter Futures Superhero Run with her boys, niece and nephew in April.

For more about Brighter Futures and to donate, visit: