Teacher’s cancer spotted by Tinder boyfriend while cuddling on sofa | #tinder | #pof


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A French teacher’s breast cancer was discovered by her new boyfriend – as they cuddled on the sofa.

The teacher, aged 40, was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer after having a quick embrace with her new partner.

Nicky Hewitt and her new man were enjoying a quiet night in together when Ben Brewer, 35, “copped a feel”.

Ben, a senior manager at London Heathrow, has now been credited with saving her life.

Nicky had a mastectomy in March 2016 and remains eternally grateful that Ben’s frisky fondle meant she caught the disease early.

Four years on, Nicky, of Thame, Oxfordshire, has just celebrated her 40th birthday on January 26.

She said: “I had a big party at the St Albans Museum and Ben, who I am still very happily involved with, was my very special guest.

“I will never forget the night, back in 2016, when he found the lump.”

“I was lying in my bra and pyjama bottoms one Friday night at his house, just after we’d started seeing each other and he was ‘copping a feel’ while watching telly.”

“He noticed the lump and told me straight away – then it all unravelled from there,” she continued.

“If he hadn’t have been so worried about it, I might not have survived to turn 40.”

Nicky and Ben started dating in December 2015, nine months after first being matched on Tinder, as while they had exchanged texts, neither had been free at the same time.

She said: “He just looked really nice and seemed like a down to earth person.

“He avoided the things people often say and the photos people often use on Tinder – like flexing muscles and showing off.

“He’d come out of a 12-year relationship and had wanted a bit of fun when we’d first matched.”

She continued: “But, by the time he was finished having fun, I was seeing someone and then when I was free I sent him a text to see if he was on the market and he was seeing someone. It was all very complicated!

“Then, one day he messaged to tell me he’d just split up with his girlfriend and I replied, ‘Look on the bright side – you’re free to meet me now.’”

Agreeing to go to a local Italian restaurant, Ben arranged to pick Nicky up at home.

She recalled: “I was running late, in my jogging pants doing marking and he even helped me with my workload.

“I think because we’d been chatting for nine months, it felt like we already knew each other.”

Then, he invited her to a Christmas do his mum was hosting at her house on their second date.

“The whole family were there as well as his best friend,” she said. “They were all quite shocked, saying I must have guts to meet them already, but it didn’t faze me – I was quite happy, really.”

Setting the pace for the rest of their relationship, the couple’s third date was on New Year’s Eve at a friend of Ben’s house.

And in January 2016, he was introduced to Nicky’s sisters, Jennifer, 36, a graphic designer, and full-time mother Samantha, 42, for dinner at an Italian restaurant.

Immediately spending most weekends together, it was just a month into their fledgling relationship that Ben made the discovery that changed Nicky’s life.

Going to see her GP within days, he referred her for breast screening on February 8 at St Albans’ City Hospital, in Hertfordshire, where she was examined, before having a mammogram and an ultrasound scan.

“I was pretty calm,” she said. “I was convinced I wasn’t even old enough to get breast cancer – I had no idea I should be checking my breasts.”

“Then the sonographer kept going over the same spot with the ultrasound and that’s when I started to panic,” she continued.

“The consultant told me they had found calcium deposits in my breast and wanted to run a biopsy.

“The day after my hospital visit I was back at work but, for the first time in my career, I walked out of the classroom, as it was all too much to bear.”

She added: “My mind was racing and all I could think was, ‘Oh my god, I have cancer.’”

Two days later, Nicky’s biopsy results confirmed that the tumour in her right breast was cancerous.

“Ben came with me to the appointment and I told him I completely understood if he wanted to be with someone else and to call it a day,” she explained.

“At the start of a relationship you should be having fun. This wasn’t what he’d signed up for,” she continued.

“He was brilliant though and insisted he wasn’t going anywhere.

“I know if I hadn’t met him I wouldn’t have gone to the doctors when I did and, by the time I’d noticed a lump, it could have been too late.”

She added: “It’s scary to think about – it could have been terminal.”

When she discussed her treatment options, Nicky’s consultant offered her a mastectomy straight away, due to the size of the 6cm tumour.

“I didn’t grasp the gravity of what the doctor was telling me – it was so surreal,” she continued.

She added: “In my head I’d be given a couple of tablets and sent on me way.”

While she is not aware of anyone in her family ever having breast cancer, Nicky had genetic testing, which showed the cancer was not hereditary.

“They couldn’t tell me what had caused it and the doctor was very honest, telling me it was just ‘s*** luck,’” she added.

Scheduled to have a mastectomy to remove her right breast on March 10, 2016, at Hertfordshire’s Watford General Hospital, at first, Nicky made an excuse not to go.

She said: “When my consultant told me the date for the operation, my first response was, ‘Sorry, I can’t do that – my class have their first oral exam.’

“She turned to me and said, ‘I don’t think you understand – we need to move as quickly as possible.’”

The first time Nicky had ever had surgery, she admits that she was terrified.

“I’d never been in hospital before, let alone had a proper operation, and I was petrified I would die,” she said.

“I asked Ben to look after my cat, Peanut, in case anything happened to me. I was convinced something would go wrong.”

“They took me to theatre and I felt sick to my stomach. I passed everyone one last time and said goodbye,” she continued.

“Luckily, the lovely medical staff calmed me down, making me laugh and cracking jokes before I was finally put under.”

Waking up from the three-hour operation, which also included a full breast reconstruction, Nicky and her mum, former corporate services assistant, Elizabeth, 69, were told it had been a success.

The 6cm tumour had been removed, but further tests needed to be run on her lymph nodes to see if the cancer had spread.

A week later, Nicky saw her oncologist alone, who told her cancer had been detected in her lymph nodes, meaning it was classed as stage two.

Agreeing to proceed with chemotherapy, as advised, she said: “I was told I didn’t have to have it, but I knew I couldn’t take the risk of not having it.”

She added: “Still, the idea completely destroyed me. It sounds awful, but the thought of losing my hair was what tipped me over the edge.”

Told that some of the treatment she needed would also put her into early menopause, doctors offered to freeze her eggs.

“Once again, Ben was a lifesaver,” Nicky said. “He injected me every day with hormones for two weeks that encouraged my body to produce eggs. I just couldn’t face doing it myself.”

Harvesting 14 eggs after the two-week hormone therapy, Nicky was asked whether she wanted her eggs to be fertilised before they were frozen.

“It already felt like we’d thrown Ben in at the deep end with everything,” she said.

“Suddenly, the poor guy was being asked for his sperm as well! In the end, I said it wasn’t fair and it could lead to problems further down the line if we didn’t stay together.”

Starting chemotherapy a month later, on May 11, 2016, Nicky had cancer-fighting drugs administered once every three weeks through an IV, over a three month period.

Describing herself as “lucky” to have avoided any “serious side effects,” she used a cold cap – a cooling hat reducing blood flow to the head, and restricting the amount of chemotherapy reaching that area – which stopped her from losing her hair.

“It did make me feel worse for the first five minutes, but it really did work,” she said.

“Luckily, my hair is so thick that even after losing a quarter or so of it, you couldn’t tell unless you knew me,” she continued.

“That didn’t stop me from crying when I brushed my hair and some fell out though.”

Completing her three-month chemotherapy course, Nicky then began hormone therapy to reduce the chances of the cancer coming back, which she will continue to receive as injections and tablets for up to 10 years – coming off it if she wants to get pregnant.

Putting her into early menopause, Nicky described the symptoms, saying:  “It lowered my mood and made me cry nonstop.

“I was constantly worrying about things that I shouldn’t have been.

“Don’t even get me started on the hot flushes and sweats.”

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She added:  “Luckily my body’s adjusted now and I’m no longer in the thick of it.”

At the moment, Nicky is not ready to have children and does worry that stopping the treatment would increase her cancer risk.

She said: “Some days I really want kids and others I can’t think of anything worse.”

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The one big benefit of her breast cancer battle, has been the bond it has created between her and Ben.

“Ben and I have gone from strength to strength,” she said. “He’s put up with such a lot.

“Me losing a breast, going through fertility treatment, worrying about losing my hair and now going through early menopause with my hormone therapy.”

“He’s such a positive person and that’s so good for me and he’s taken it all in his stride,” she continued.

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“Cancer puts a strain on you at the best of time and Ben is the perfect antidote to that.”

Approaching the fourth anniversary of her diagnosis this February, Nicky, was told there was no evidence of cancer at her most recent check-up in October last year.

She said: “It gave me a real reason to throw a party to remember for my 40th.”

Nicky is supporting ‘Re-Write Cancer’, a £20m fundraising appeal from Cancer Research UK, The Christie and The University of Manchester to help meet the cost of a new £150m cancer research facility. Find out more and donate at  cruk.org/rewrite




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