A 52-year-old mother who was diagnosed with breast cancer 13 years ago considers herself lucky to have run into her old surgeon at the perfect time so that her new case of breast cancer could be diagnosed and treated early.
When Nicky Marks was initially diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer over a decade ago, she still had fairly young children at home and was worried about not living to see all the important milestones in their lives.
“I was so distraught,” she recalls. “I just thought, ‘I’ll never see my son’s bar mitzvah. I’ll never see my kids graduate.’”
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Her cancer case required surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy over the course of two years, but she eventually went into remission and thought her cancer journey was behind her. Doctors continued to monitor her using annual mammograms, but as the years wore on, Nicky moved on with her life and stopped worrying about the cancer returning.
But after 13 years, a serendipitous reunion with her former surgeon changed everything for Nicky.
On that lucky day, Nicky was out for a run when she bumped into Dr. Victor Jaffe. She reintroduced herself as his former patient, but she was not expecting his response.
“I said to him, ‘I’m one of your survivors. You operated on me 13 years ago,’” she recalls. “And he looked at me with a strange look I can’t really explain, and he just said, ‘Please make an appointment at my clinic.’”
So she did. Lo and behold, Dr. Jaffe’s intuition was correct. Nicky did indeed have a cancerous lump in her breast.
“My heart just sank, and I just thought, ‘Here we go again.’”
Nicky is set to have a lumpectomy in about a month to remove the tumor, followed by radiotherapy. But this time, instead of thinking about the possibility of this being the end of her life, she’s planning to stay positive.
In fact, instead of focusing on herself, she’s planning to run 5 kilometers per day every day until her lumpectomy in the hopes of raising £8,000 for Alyn Children’s Hospital in Jerusalem.
Nicky’s now-28-year-old son, who works as a guest entertainer on a cruise ship, will be running on a treadmill to support her efforts, as well as donating all his tips to the cause. And her 26-year-old daughter is donating her tips from her hair salon job. The family has a Just Giving page that has already raised more than £7,000.
“People are really getting involved and the donations that I’ve got are from friends of friends of friends,” she says. “I’ve obviously touched a nerve somewhere. It’s just amazing how inspiring it’s been for people.”
Nicky hopes her journey can inspire others to stay vigilant about their health. “Although you check yourself, if you’re due a mammogram, take it,” she says. “And also, if you are unfortunately given any sort of bad news, whether it be cancer or anything, you always have a choice to go with love or to go with fear.”