Dominique Nicholson suffered more than most expectant mothers, with months of excruciating pain in her skull in addition to her pregnancy.
The then 30-year-old struggled with headaches and migraines, but said it was just a “pregnancy thing”.
But shortly after she left the hospital after giving birth to her second child in 2019, she was diagnosed again with a brain tumor the size of a golf ball.
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Because the pain persisted after the birth, she was often locked on the sofa at the Bagworth home, could not do anything, and left her with temporary visual impairment.
Weeks later, a scan that doctors expected would reveal enlarged brain vessels – a common occurrence during childbirth – revealed that Dominique, then 30, had a golf ball-sized brain tumor behind one of her eyes.
“We only sat in silence for 10 or 15 minutes and now we knew what to say,” she said.
She learned that the tumor had been there “for a long time” and although there was no indication of how long, there were signs that it had grown.
“I had headaches and migraines, but it never crosses your mind,” she said.
Once her brain tumor was diagnosed, she was admitted to the Leicester Royal Infirmary before being transferred to specialists at Queen’s Medical Center in Nottingham.
Although Dominique said the treatment had been “fantastic,” she had to be separated from her family, including her newborn daughter Erin, who was only three weeks old at the time, her then four-year-old daughter Freya, and her husband. Dave.
“I was devastated to be separated from them, especially Erin, because I couldn’t breastfeed or be with her,” she said. “I used to cry in my hospital room when I was alone.”
“But survival was a priority for my girls,” added Dominique.
Within five days of being admitted to Queen’s Medical Center, Dominique underwent an operation that removed most of the tumor.
“I was told that 95 to 99 percent of the tumor was gone and my scans so far have all come back clearly,” she said.
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But a grade 2 tumor means Dominique is still at risk of the tumor growing back. Since her operation, she had MRIs done every six months until she was released for a check-up once a year.
“When I have a scan now, it’s just terrifying,” she said.
After the surgery, she was also told that she was at increased risk of developing other types of cancer, including breast cancer, which she should “look for”.
“I had never examined my breasts before – we weren’t really taught that when we were younger,” she said.
That’s why she signed up for the CoppaFeel Charity Trek 2021 – a hiking challenge run by the breast cancer awareness charity CoppaFeel.
Dominique will meet around 100 other trekkers this September, including host Emma Willis and I am a celebrity star Giovanna Fletcher, on a one-week, 100-kilometer hike through the Scottish Highlands.
Having participated in numerous challenges to raise money for cancer charities, Dominique said the hike will be the biggest yet.
“My family has been through a lot with cancer and other diseases so they really cheered me on – and they think I’m a little bit crazy,” she said.
During the challenge, which begins September 12, Dominique plans to take unpaid leave to raise money for breast cancer research and awareness.
“Just hearing the word ‘cancer’ really annoys me and it just makes me want to do more to raise awareness and spend money on treatments and research,” she said.
To secure her place in the Challenge, Dominique must first raise £ 2,250. She will host a fundraising and fun day open to all on August 8th at the Bagworth Community Center.
You can also help her raise funds for CoppaFeel by donating on her special page here.