Friends are rounding up support for a young Vernon mother who is in the final months of her battle with terminal breast cancer.
Jamie Ross started a GoFundMe campaign for her friend, Nicole Neill, who in February 2019 was diagnosed with Stage 3 triple-negative breast cancer — an aggressive type of cancer that tends to spread quickly and is difficult to target with treatment, Ross says.
Nicole and her husband Shawn were living in Medicine Hat, Alta., at the time of her diagnosis. They were raising their son Finn, and had plans to start a life in the Okanagan.
“The week of Nicole’s biopsy, they bought their dream home in Vernon, B.C., and were excited for the future. But when the results came back that it was breast cancer, life was put on hold so she could have surgery (double mastectomy), followed by chemotherapy and radiation,” Ross said.
Once treatment wrapped up several months later, Nicole’s scans came back clear and the Neill family could once again make plans for the future. Ross says Nicole began training for the Apple Olympic Triathlon with her sights set on Ironman 2021.
However, by the end of February 2020, she began feeling pain in her back and leg. The pain worsened to the point where she was hospitalized in June, and scans from that hospital stay yielded the worst news: cancer had spread to her femur. Nicole was deemed Stage 4 and terminal.
More recent scans have shown cancer has spread to her liver. Nicole has been through several rounds of radiation and aggressive chemotherapy and has dealt with blood clots and other complications. Ross says her switch to a new chemotherapy has been “extremely hard on her system.”
Her husband has had to leave work to care for four-year-old Finn, who is nonverbal and autistic.
Money raised through the online fundraiser will help the Neill family with prescriptions, travel and other costs such as making their home wheelchair accessible.
“The Neills want to focus on creating memories with the time Nicole has left,” Ross said. “She has told me she wants to make every minute count and never stop fighting.”
In just two days the campaign has raised nearly $9,000 of its $15,000 goal.