Despite agonising pain, panic attacks and thoughts about her own death, one Lancaster mum is still all smiles as she battles her way through breast cancer.
Nicola Kerfoot was diagnosed with breast cancer in September last year after finding a small lump in her breast.
What quickly followed was gruelling chemotherapy, thoughts of failure and worry her 13-year-old daughter would be hit the hardest.
“It was such a shock, never in my life I thought I would get cancer,” said the 44-year-old.
“You do have negative thoughts, whether you let the family down, you feel like your whole life is on hold.
“Izzie doesn’t want to speak about it, the first thing she said was ‘are you going to die.?’
“You never want to hear your 13-year-old daughter say that.
“It is hard for her especially being a teenager, I am normally fun mum.”
Nicola finished her chemotherapy treatment, which began in September 2016, three weeks ago and said she would “not wish it on her worst enemy.”
The treatment lasts for six cycles over five months and causes a number of side effects including, ulcers, fatigue, loss of appetite, vomiting, and severe body aches.
“The first time I had chemo I was on the bathroom floor having panic attacks, my body went into shock,” said Nicola, who works in administration at Lancaster Magistrates.
“It is like you have been punched all over, it even hurt putting my jaw on the pillow.”
Nicola has not been phased about losing her hair but was upset when she lost her eyelashes and eyebrows.
“It’s hard to hear things like oh you are so brave, that is not how I feel,” she said.
“I am not brave or an inspiration, I am just wading through all the s**t.
“It is taking my chances and dying early or carrying on.”
The mum-of-one hasn’t been alone in her journey, as well as support from family and friends, she has also had help from local cancer charity, CancerCare.
Therapy sessions including counselling have been a life-saver for Nicola and her daughter Izzie.
After finding out her birth mother and maternal auntie, Nicola is adopted, both died from breast cancer, she went straight to the charity.
“I knew I would need all the help I can get,” said Nicola.
“During chemo I looked at all the women here, they have all been through it, they all look strong. I felt weak and a failure, I thought I am not doing it anymore, I’d rather die.
“But those feelings really improved here, it is an amazing place.”
Izzie has been going to counselling at Cancercare for a few weeks, the charity offers a range of services for young people going through cancer or who may know someone who has been affected by cancer.
“It is her thing, she doesn’t tell me anything about it,” said Nicola.
“It is massive having cancer, it is awful and it is so important to talk about it.”
Nicola has been given an 87% chance of recovery and will begin radiotherapy treatment soon.
She hopes to give something back to Cancercare after her treatment.