By Aliki Kraterou
A mum who battled 17 brain tumors in one year has defied the odds and her twelve-week life expectancy thanks to her own research.
Sue Nicklan, 54, was devastated when doctors revealed she had terminal cancer after over a dozen brain tumors were found on an MRI scan.
After battling cancer since 2012, Sue was given just twelve weeks to live in October 2015 after her aggressive cancer returned.
And despite surgery to remove the tumours in her lungs and liver as well as invasive chemotherapy, Sue’s cancer continued to spread across her body and brain.
By January 2017, Sue had 17 brain tumours and was offered full brain radiation, something she rejected due to the risks of permanent braindamage.
With a race against time Sue did her own online research and found out about gamma knife radiation –a type of treatment that uses beams of radiation to target each individual tumour in the brain – offered by the NHS.
After months of gruelling treatment, which involved having a metal brace screwed to her skull for the targeted radiation – Sue has defied all doctors expectations and is now sharing her story to give others hope.
The nurse, from Chelford, Cheshire, said: “Last January I was initially diagnosed with 12 brain tumours but that soon became 17.
“I was devastated and knew it would be almost impossible to beat as normally people have one or two not over a dozen.
“I was first offered whole brain radiation by the NHS which I declined as I was worried about the side affects such as brain damage.
“After doing my own research, I decided to go with gamma knife radiation as this targets the brain tumours directly and does not affect the rest of the brain.
“I had to go through it twice because after the first time, there were still cancerous cells in my body producing the tumours.
“I also underwent a mixture of chemotherapy and immunotherapy, something I knew was the best option after researching treatments online and despite only being given 12 weeks to live, I refused to give up.
“Luckily the treatments were successful and after a scan in April last year I was told the tumours were tiny.
“I was so happy that all my hard work of online research and undergoing to gamma radiation had paid off.
“I now have regular scans each year to ensure the tumours haven’t grown back and I’m now three years post my 12 weeks life expectancy which is amazing.”
Sue was first diagnosed with stage three HER2 breast cancer in 2012 but despite chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy and surgery, it returned two years later in her lungs and liver.
She added: “I knew there was something wrong in 2014 as I was tired, I had trouble breathing and I couldn’t even stand.
“I was on holiday in France but I was feeling so ill that my husband had to drive thirteen hours to get me back to the UK.
“The emergency scan showed that unfortunately the aggressive cancer was back and had spread to my lungs and liver.
“But this time I had become allergic to the chemotherapy drugs and by the October of 2015 I was told I was unlikely to make it to Christmas.”
But Sue battled against the odds and after treatment with a chemotherapy drug called Docetaxol in a combination with immunotherapy – a mix of drugs that slow cancer growth and allow chemotherapy for longer time and gamma knife radiation for her 17 brain tumours – she is still alive and fighting against her prognosis.
She said: “I’m so thankful I have a future to look forward to, I have been incredibly lucky to survive not one but 17 tumors.
“I was lucky enough to have my husband Mark, 51, and my children Ellie, 23, and Sam, 22, by my side.
“During my treatment I was also supported by the Maggie’s Centre who support those affected by cancer and now I’m going catwalk to raise money for the charity on June 16.
“It is a beautiful place. It is a big glass building where you can relax, seek advice from specialists and get all the support you need.
“It has a very positive vibe, it is a fun place to go”.
To find out more about Maggie’s Centres visit: https://www.maggiescentres.org/