A brave mum from Sheffield died in her partner’s arms – after a rare eye cancer claimed her life aged just 34.
Nicola Broomhead, from Wadsley Bridge, thought there was a chance she had beaten her illness – spotted during a routine eye test – after undergoing radical proton beam therapy and losing half her sight.
But doctors gave her the news she dreaded when they found the cancer had returned in her liver, leaving her with only months to live.
Her heartbroken partner Lee Davis, 41, said she tried to make ‘as many memories as possible’ for her nine-year-old son Alfie - even writing out cards to be given to her child on every birthday, Christmas and Valentine’s Day until he is 25.
Now Lee wants to raise awareness of Nicola’s condition – ocular melanoma – and has signed up to four tough runs in her memory to support St Luke’s Hospice in Whirlow, which helped her in her final weeks.
“I just don’t know how she managed to get through it,” said Lee, a mechanic.
“She was amazing. Alfie really was her world.”
Nicola’s eye cancer was first spotted when she visited the optician after her eyes felt tired and strained.
“What she thought was going to be a routine visit, maybe ending up with reading glasses, turned out to be devastating,” said Lee.
Nicola was given proton therapy in Merseyside, but was warned the procedure would damage her optic nerve, causing sight loss.
She had surgery to realign her damaged eye, then attended the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield for six-monthly check-ups.
Formerly a secretary, she even took a job as a carer as she began to recover.
“She’d been through a rough time and we finally thought we’d turned a corner,” Lee said. “We were even talking about marriage and having other children.”
But last summer an ultrasound scan found an abnormality, and a CT scan revealed Nicola’s liver was ‘peppered’ with cancer.
“She was devastated,” Lee said. “But we decided we weren’t going to lie to Alfie, so she told him straight away.
“Then she wrote him birthday, Christmas and Valentine’s cards until he is 25. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be 34, sitting at home and doing that – then walking your son home from school and still be upbeat.”
Nicola received chemotherapy and immunotherapy at Weston Park Hospital, and visited St Luke’s weekly.
She died at home in June, with Lee by her side. “She was where she wanted to be,” he said. “I was holding her hand and stroking her hair.”
Plans are now being made for a memorial bench in Greno Woods, one of her favourite spots, and Alfie is making good progress at Malin Bridge Primary.
Lee will compete in the Great Yorkshire Run in Sheffield on September 28, followed by the Huddersfield Hilly Half Marathon, the Scarborough 10k and the Sheffield TenTenTen 10k, all in aid of St Luke’s. Visit www.justgiving.com/Lee-Davis9 to sponsor him.