Carrickstone mum of three Nicola Dickson blesses the day she doubled up in agony with abdominal pains – because that saved her life.
She counts herself double lucky that the source of the misery was correctly diagnosed, and promptly, because by that time she was in mortal danger.
Nicola had pancreatic cancer, a silent menace which often becomes manifest only when it has already gained a deadly grip of its victim’s system.
The operation that saved her life was an ordeal that tested her to the limit, but she survived – and wants to tell the world about it.
More than that, she’s become an active campaigner for the pancreatic cancer charity, after being struck by how little publicity this form of the disease received compared to better known forms of cancer.
“I’ve been in places like doctors’ waiting rooms and seen posters for breast cancer awareness, or testicular cancer – but not one warning about the dangers of pancreatic cancer,” she said.
“I was lucky, but not everybody has my good fortune.”
She added: “Having survived, I felt I wanted to do something to raise the profile of this disease, and help the effort to fight back.
“People need to know what it can do, and be aware that anyone can be affected.
“I’m young, whereas often it seems to be assumed it’s something that only affects people in their 70’s – and as my case shows that’s obviously not the case.”
She sees her battle against a disease that could easily have killed her as a life-changing challenge, and is determined to put her experience to good use.
Nicola has organised a fundraising night of laughter in aid of the charity Pancreatic Cancer Action in popular Glasgow pub The Auctioneers, from 7.30pm on June 25.
Highlights will include – top of the bill – a hilarious routine performed by comedian Gary Meikle, who was voted best newcomer at the Scottish Comedy Awards.
He has gamely volunteered to be the subject of a sponsored leg wax, and there will be a raffle and other diversions to enjoy too.
Nicola hopes typically generous Cumbernauld people will help her effort – and save somebody the misery of an uncertain fate at the mercy of a disease left, perhaps, too late for treatment to be guaranteed effective.
Getting the word out about a murderous ailment which could have taken her away from her loved ones has become a personal mission for Nicola – and through the News she’s asking everyone to help.