IN October last year, Nicolette Bateman took to the streets of Southampton to help people beat cancer.

However, two months later she would be diagnosed with the disease which she was raising money to detect, prevent and cure.

Nicolette, 49, from Romsey was one of hundreds of people who supported Cancer Research UK’s Shine Night Walk, completing Southampton's 10k route in memory of family members lost to cancer, including her mum who died six years ago to bowel cancer.

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After pledging to help others beat the disease, just weeks later on Christmas Eve, Nicolette was admitted to hospital and was given the diagnosis that she had developed bowel cancer.

Nicolette said: “My GP thought it was an IBS flare-up and I didn’t think for one second that it could be bowel cancer. But I got scanned at 2am, told at 7.30am it could be cancer and by midday I was having surgery to remove a massive tumour.”

Nicolette is sharing her story to encourage people to join her in Southampton on September 3 for this year’s Shine Night Walk which will mark the end of nine months of treatment to cure her of cancer. Nicolette hopes people of all abilities will step up and join her to raise money for life-saving research or volunteer to help at the event.

Hampshire Chronicle: L-R Emma White, Nicolette Bateman (front), Lisa Moore (rear) and Hannah Bateman

Nicolette said: “I felt so bloated and assumed it was due to what I’d eaten. By the end of the week, I had ballooned out completely and wasn’t passing anything at all. In the end my daughter Hannah, 22, urged me to go to A&E on Christmas Eve.

“I just thought they’d give me something to get things moving and I’d go home. I was blissfully unaware it could be cancer and assumed I was being treated for a twisted bowel.

“But on December 27 I had a scan at 2am and a few hours later the doctor said that they’d found a tumour blocking my colon and my bowel was close to perforating. They said I needed surgery otherwise I could die.”

Nicolette received the news alone and, still in shock, had to text her husband, Andrew who was suffering with severe flu at home. With him being unable to visit, her son, Harvey, 19, dashed to the hospital before she went down for surgery.

She said: “I had to have a lot of my large bowel removed and now live with a stoma. For the first day I felt like my whole world had ended and I didn’t want to look at it. But I received amazing support from my nurse and my daughter Hannah and used a lot of toilet humour to soon get used to having it.”

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It took around nine weeks to recover from the surgery and during that time, doctors were worried they had detected cancer spots on her liver. However scans revealed it hadn’t spread and Nicolette is coming to the end of her chemotherapy treatment.

Nicolette said: “Last year I took part because we’ve lost nine people in my family to the disease. I’d already decided to do Shine again but then had my own diagnosis and wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do it. I’m so pleased that I’m here today to take part and will complete it, even if my friends have to carry me through.

Hampshire Chronicle: R-L Nicolette Bateman with friend Lisa Moore on Southampton's Shine Night Walk when she was unknowingly carrying a cancerous tumour in her bowel

“I’m almost through the other side now and I know the difference research makes and why the fundraising at Shine is so important.”

Nicolette will be joined by friends Lisa Moore, Shirley Robbins and Emma White from Chandler's Ford, daughter Hannah and her friend, Britney Langdon. As well as raising money to help beat cancer, they want to remind people of the importance of getting any symptoms checked early.

Southampton is one of 19 locations across the UK selected to host a Shine Night Walk in 2022. The parade begins outside the city’s Guildhall and passes landmarks including the Cenotaph War Memorial, The Bargate, The Titanic Memorial Fountain, Watergate Ruin and St Mary’s Stadium.

Cancer Research UK spokesman, Elisa Mitchell, said: “One in two of us will get cancer in our lifetime, but all of us can help beat it. As we mark our anniversary, we want to thank Nicolette and people across the south for their incredible commitment to events like Shine Night Walk that make our life-saving work possible.

“That’s why we’re urging everyone to pull on their trainers, grab their glowsticks and raise vital funds. Whether people walk for someone they know or to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured, every step - from Guildhall Square down to St Mary’s and beyond - will help the charity to go further in the fight against this devastating disease.

“From proving the link between smoking and cancer to laying the foundations for modern radiotherapy – our scientists have been at the forefront of cancer research for 120 years. And we’re not stopping now. Together, we will beat cancer.”

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