A WORTHING mother has spoken of her battle to beat cancer and the way it has turned her life around for the better.
Nic Naish, 44, of Valencia Road, lost her mother, grandmother, great aunt, two aunties and her uncle to the disease.
But it was her own successful battle which prompted huge changes in her life, encouraging her to carry out tireless charity work and work towards offering hope for a cure for future generations.
She said: “Cancer is still a taboo subject. People don’t talk and it is still the ‘c’ word.
“I thought, I am going to change that. I was not ashamed I had cancer and I would talk to anyone that would listen.”
Shortly after Nic gave birth to daughter, Elka, in 2000, her mother Erica contracted breast cancer, passing away three years later.
She said: “Mum had just had her long awaited grandchild which she always wanted and instead of visiting and babysitting, she had three years of cancer and treatment.
“There was an overwhelming emotion that it was not fair.”
In 2009, when Nic found a lump, she visited her doctor and refused to leave until she was seen.
She later underwent a double mastectomy – under the ‘excellent’ care of Worthing Hospital’s oncology team – and now takes preventative drugs to help keep the cancer at bay.
She said her mother’s death ‘gave her strength’ and her own treatment changed her, taking on her mum’s fundraising spirit.
“Everything in life has changed so much since my cancer treatment and everything I do, I think that I am totally changing into my mum.
“I never did voluntary work, now I mostly do voluntary work. Something like that changes you.”
Nic voluntary work forms two strands – awareness and cure.
Her work with Breast Cancer Campaign, which included her and Elka appearing on a Mother’s Day poster on the London Underground last month, represents her hope for a cure.
Nic is convinced there is a genetic link to her family’s suffering, despite not carrying the known BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
She also suspects more of her family have suffered but has not traced it back further.
She said: “I want Elka’s generation to be free from this cancer. I see the statistics and I genuinely believe this will be happen, so it allays my fears.”
Her other work, as the ‘face of breast cancer’ for Albion in the Community, helps her spread awareness.
She said: “We do talks and if one person gets checked because of what I say, that’s great. One person has already said to me they went to the GP after they heard me speak.”
Nic believes a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and good diet, was a significant factor in her recovery. She now attends fitness classes ten times a week and last week qualified as a personal trainer.
She hopes to help cancer sufferers keep active during their treatment.
She said: “When you get diagnosed, you get a little bag with advice on wigs, make-up and support groups. I would love to have a card in there in the future which tells people how I can help them.”