Leeds woman cancelled wedding after being diagnosed with same breast cancer that killed her mum
After losing her mum to breast cancer when she was just 12, Nikki Hall's worst fears were realised when she was diagnosed with the same cancer last year.
-> West Yorkshire Police officer catches breast cancer early - thanks to her body armourNikki, who is 45 and lives in Rodley, was engaged and had set a date for her wedding, which had to be cancelled while she went through two operations.
After a brave battle and two single mastectomies, Nikki is now fighting fit and is training to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise awareness of the importance of screening.
She says early screening for breast cancer saved her life and she is urging women to get regular screening as soon as they notice anything unusual.
Nikki is going through intense training for the climb on September 11, a year to the day since she had her last surgery, in an attempt to raise awareness and save the lives of other women.
She said: "I’m not a climber in any sense, I don’t even do camping!
"It’s been really hard, but it’s wonderful to feel so well. You have a whole new appreciation for your body and what it can do - but at the same time, it’s absolutely shattering.
"The whole idea was to do something so out of my comfort zone that it would attract attention.
"So far it’s worked, just by sharing my story on Facebook I’ve had loads of women contact me to say they started the screening.
"The screening saved my life and caught the cancer at a very early stage, if I had waited until I had a lump the cancer would have spread all over my body.
"My mum was 37 when she was diagnosed and by that time she was in a very late stage."
Nikki has had regular breast cancer screening since she was 18 because her mum had passed away.
She wants to reach out to other women with a family history of breast cancer, urging them to get screened as soon as possible.
-> This Leeds dad has climbed three mountains in one weekend to say thank you to his son's schoolAfter her amazing recovery, Nikki flew out to St Lucia to marry her husband Richard in March this year.
She said: "We flew out just us two, it was amazing. It was a really positive end to what had been a terrible time.
"I would say to women - please don’t be afraid of breast cancer, go for the screening.
"Now, if it’s caught early 90% of people with breast cancer will be alive for a long time after they’re diagnosed, so don’t be afraid.
"Many women are aware of a change in their breast but are scared to find out, but it’s so treatable and every day you don’t seek medical advice it’s going to make things worse.
"I’m a prime example of how important screening is. I can honestly say I feel fantastic, I've healed really well and that’s only down to the cancer being caught early.”
Nikki is climbing Mount Kilimanjaro primarily to raise awareness but was overwhelmed by requests to support her financially.
She is now raising money for Breast Cancer Haven through the climb, a charity which supported her through her battle with cancer.
Nikki said: "I have a good network of family and friends, but you don’t always want to burden them and no one can really understand what it’s like unless you’ve been through it yourself.
"When you're diagnosed, all you can think about is getting rid of the cancer, but there’s a huge emotional and mental health side that you have to process.
"A group of six of us joined the charity's welcome day and we still meet up regularly to help each other.
"I also had some massage sessions which were amazing - it can be traumatic getting undressed, so to know that someone understands is so important.
"It was a massive help to have the charity's support and that’s what helped me to recover so well and have the energy to give something back."