Search

‘Let’s get rid of this’ - how brave Emily, 10, faced brain tumour battle

PUBLISHED: 16:00 24 May 2020

Emily Nicholls, who has undergone treatment for brain cancer, with her parents Vicki and Matt  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Emily Nicholls, who has undergone treatment for brain cancer, with her parents Vicki and Matt Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Sarah Lucy Brown

At the start if this year Emily Nicholls from Ipswich took on the biggest fight of her life – a cancerous brain tumour.

Emily with her Beads of Courage in the planning week up at the Christie Hospital in Manchester and reflected her journey up to that point Picture: MATT NICHOLLSEmily with her Beads of Courage in the planning week up at the Christie Hospital in Manchester and reflected her journey up to that point Picture: MATT NICHOLLS

Initially it was thought the seizures Emily, 10, was experiencing in late 2019 were caused by epilepsy but an MRI scan on New Year’s Eve as part of routine tests revealed she actually had an aggressive form of brain cancer – grade three Ependymoma.

Dad Matt, 43, who works for a software company, said his daughter’s diagnosis was every parent’s worst nightmare realised, but her positivity helped him cope.

Matt said: “She’s awesome. I wish I could do the same if it was me.

“The first 24/48 hours she was a bit shocked, as were we all, and then she was ‘bugger that, I’m just going to get on with it. Let’s do it, let’s get rid of it’.”

Emily Nicholls enjoying some time with her dogs, Rocky, Devlin and Star Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNEmily Nicholls enjoying some time with her dogs, Rocky, Devlin and Star Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Now he and Emily’s mum Vicki, 40, hope by sharing their experiences, it may help others going through something similar.

Emily, a pupil at Bramford Primary School in Ipswich, remained at Ipswich Hospital for the first week of January and she was then admitted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge on January 24 where she underwent surgery to remove the tumour, which was all taken out.

Then, not long before the UK was put into lockdown due to coronavirus, Emily and her family began preparing for her to have proton beam therapy, which fortunately was possible at the Christie Hospital in Manchester rather than having to go abroad.

At the start of the seven weeks of treatment, Matt and Vicki would take it in turns to stay with her up in Manchester, but when lockdown came Matt remained there with her while Vicki was with their son, 13, at home in Ipswich.

Emily Nicholls has had proton beam therapy in Manchester Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNEmily Nicholls has had proton beam therapy in Manchester Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Matt, who shared a room with his daughter in Manchester for six weeks, said she had been “incredibly positive”.

He said: “She has days when she says ‘why me? Why do we have to go through all this?’ and she’s a bit down about it.

You may also want to watch:

“But it’s hard to be down in the dumps when you have been with her and she’s so positive about things.”

Emily's parents Vicki and Matt travelled up to Manchester with her for treatment, which lasted for seven weeks  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNEmily's parents Vicki and Matt travelled up to Manchester with her for treatment, which lasted for seven weeks Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Emily, who loves reading, climbing and sloths, is really missing her friends, having not been in school since December because of the cancer.

The youngster was even forced to celebrate her 10th birthday on May 14 in lockdown, but she still had a “lovely time” according to Vicki, who said they indulged in vegan iced doughnuts from Doodle Donuts, games, cake, a walk and Emily’s favourite takeaway for dinner.

Matt, who was able to continue working remotely during Emily’s treatment, added: “We have had several packages of cards and letters from the school, which has been really cool, and she’s in touch with a handful of her mates and often has calls with them.”

The treatment, which finished on April 28, has made Emily feel nauseous and tired, so she has a wheelchair in case she needs it, but Matt said they are trying to make sure she gets out for exercise.

DaveThe Sloth was a present from one of Emily's  friends prior to going up to Manchester for proton beam therapy Picture: VICKI NICHOLLSDaveThe Sloth was a present from one of Emily's friends prior to going up to Manchester for proton beam therapy Picture: VICKI NICHOLLS

She managed to avoid having chemotherapy, but the brain surgery and proton beam therapy have left her with a bald patch, which she covers with bandanas from the charity Bandanas for the Brave.

Matt said Emily had a recent check-up with the oncology consultant at Addenbrooke’s and “everything from their perspective is looking good at the moment”.

Her first MRI scan post-treatment is in June and they are hoping it comes back clear.

Matt said: “I feel she’s been lucky. Everything has gone well. They have managed to remove the entire tumour. Treatment has gone well.”

Emily Nicholls sitting outside a few mornings ago when she had had a particularly bad night and was still feeling a bit rubbish the following day Picture: VICKI NICHOLLSEmily Nicholls sitting outside a few mornings ago when she had had a particularly bad night and was still feeling a bit rubbish the following day Picture: VICKI NICHOLLS

He added: “Since we got that initial appointment at Ipswich, it was incredibly quick. It was only a month from picking up the tumour to having the surgery.”

On Instagram Emily and her family have been using ‘Emily’s brain tumour journey’ to keep a record of her illness and treatment and be able to share it with friends and family and people they are in touch with from up in Manchester. Anyone wanting to get in contact can do so via Instagram.

There is also a JustGiving page to support the family with costs, such as travel to and from Manchester, that has raised more than £3,000.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ipswich Star. Click the link in the orange box below for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad, serving as your advocate and trusted source of local information. Our industry is facing testing times, which is why I’m asking for your support. Every single contribution will help us continue to produce award-winning local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Ipswich Star