Cancer patient
REUTERS/Shaun Best

A mother has spoken of her gratitude after her ex-husband's wife helped raise funds for her life-saving cancer treatment.

Nicola Hitchen, 41, was given just four months to live by doctors who diagnosed her with stage four cervical cancer earlier this year. The brave mum of two refused to give up hope and a recent round of pioneering chemotherapy has massively improved her condition.

Nicola, from Chester, flew to Turkey for five 10-day sessions at ChemoThermi, a renowned oncology centre situated outside Istanbul. The ground-breaking therapy is credited with saving her life but has already cost £80,000.

Claire Hitchen, who is married to Nicole's ex-husband Andy, said she was doing the best she could for her husband and Nicola's two young sons when she offered to spearhead the fundraising bid:

"This is not an option — the boys Joe and Jake need their mum and she deserves the chance to watch them grow into men and have their own families."

Nicola started suffering from abdominal cramps in April and after seeking medical attention she was diagnosed with pelvic abscess and sepsis. Her condition deteriorated and doctors later told her that a tumour was growing in her cervix:

"I was very scared when they told me," Nicola said. "It was such a shock. It proved really difficult to get rid of the abscess and, by the time the infection had gone I was told it was too late to treat the cancer.

"Getting a diagnosis like that you can respond in one of two ways. Either you accept this is what's happening and sort your affairs out — or you start looking at other options. The first wasn't an option for me."

Thankfully for her sons, Joseph, 14, and Jacob, 12, her treatment has been successful and supporters are hoping another £50,000 from generous donors will help bring her back to full health.

"It's brought us all even closer together," said Nicola. "The support I've been given has been phenomenal, not just from my family but from complete strangers too."

A JustGiving page has raised £7,000 towards the new target.