I lost my mum and my best friend

“My mum, Nikki, was the most beautiful and inspiring woman I have ever had the honour of knowing. The fact that I got to call her ‘Mum’ is even more of a privilege. She had the kindest nature, the biggest heart and a smile that lit up every room. She had these bright blue eyes; everyone always remembered her eyes. She wasn’t just my mum; she was my best friend.


Tori with her mum, Nikki

My mum never really had any noticeable symptoms. She used to cough now and again but no one really thought much of it. Then she developed a pain in her side. The pain persisted and she was admitted to hospital. Little did we know that just nine days later she would be dead.

The pain actually had nothing to do with lung cancer. She had secondary cancer in her liver. That’s what was causing the pain. She was only officially diagnosed with lung cancer just six days before she died.

It was a huge shock for all of us. I’d geared myself up to hear it was liver cancer. I never even thought it would have started in her lungs based on her symptoms.

We were then told it was Stage 4 lung cancer. She was terminal and had just days to live. It was heart breaking; I didn’t have years, months, even weeks left with my mum. We only had a matter of days. Two days in fact. She passed away two days later, aged 49.

It is nearly five years now since Nikki passed away and sadly we are still seeing so many stories like hers. In fact, it is getting worse.

According to a recent study, more young women will die of lung cancer this year than young men. Experts said that 1.4 women per 100,000 aged 25 to 44 in the European Union will die from lung cancer, compared with 1.2 per 100,000 men^.

And yet still no one is talking about it. It’s something that Tori is particularly passionate about:

“Lung cancer is a taboo subject. That’s why I’m sharing my mum’s story. Every story shared helps break down the stereotype associated with lung cancer. I want people to understand that lung cancer isn’t just caused by smoking. There are many people that suffer from this disease and have never smoked in their life.

“I want people to be more about aware about lung cancer, its symptoms and the statistics. I think many people would be shocked to discover how devastating these are.”

Lung cancer kills over 35,000 people every year in the UK. Every day, 44 women die from lung cancer. Lung cancer kills more women than breast and ovarian cancer combined. It kills more people than breast, prostate and colorectal cancer combined. It is the UK’s biggest cancer killer. But perhaps what is most saddening is that 89% of lung cancer cases are preventable.

Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation is the only UK’s charity solely dedicated to beating lung cancer. We fund vital lung cancer research and support people affected by this awful disease –patients and their loved ones. We receive no government funding and so are reliant on donations from people like Tori, who recently did a skydive to raise money for our charity:

“It was 15,000ft; 60 seconds of freefall at 125mph. It was exhilarating for two reasons – one, I had just jumped out of plane but more importantly two, I was thinking what the money I had raised could help achieve.

“I think my mum would have called me crazy. She would have been worried because that’s what mums do. But, above all, I think she would have been proud that I’ve become so passionate about wanting to make a change because even the smallest change can make a huge difference.”

You can make a difference. Support Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation this International Women’s Day and help us beat the UK’s biggest cancer killer.

Text Lung £5 to 70660 to donate £5 today.

^Annals of Oncology

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