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24-Year-Old Woman With Terminal Breast Cancer Reveals Her Poignant Final Wish

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One of the youngest women in the UK to have terminal stage four breast cancer has spoken candidly about her wishes to buy the horse of her dreams and get married in a castle "like a fairy tale princess."

Told in March that the breast cancer she was first diagnosed with in 2016 had returned and was now terminal, having spread to her spine, Vicki Turner, 24, of Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, had just one question: "Am I going to die?"


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Shockingly, one of only 31 people under 24 to be diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the UK – accounting for just 0.056 per cent of the 55,000 annual cases across all age groups, according to Cancer Research – Vicki said doctors told her she could survive for anything from three to 30 years.

Facing an uncertain future, rather than cracking under the pressure, the HR auditor, who has had a double mastectomy, set-up a GoFundMe page, which has already smashed the £10,000 target she set to buy and keep a horse, saying: "Horses have always been my therapy.

"I want a male gelding, maybe a warmblood Hanoverian. I'm going to get him settled at the stable, groom him and give him lots of carrots, and then start having lessons and work towards taking him out.


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"The diagnosis drives me to do things more rapidly. That's why I started my horse fund in March, just after my latest surgery."


She continued: "It's already raised £11,000, which is totally amazing. It makes me feel like I'm being hugged 1,000 times by 1,000 people. It's unbelievable. I truly never expected it to get this far."

But Vicki, whose dream is to marry her compliance engineer fiancé Simon Eastaugh, 25, in 2020 in the magnificent Leeds Castle near Maidstone, Kent, is no stranger to adversity.

She was just three-years-old when she was diagnosed with a Wilms' tumor, a type of kidney cancer, affecting about 70 children under the age of five each year in the UK with a 90 per cent survival rate, according to the NHS.

In September 1998 Vicki had a stage three tumor "the size of a grapefruit" removed along with her right kidney, followed by 19 rounds of radiotherapy, 17 rounds of chemotherapy and 15 blood transfusions over the course of a year.


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Left bald and with a weakened heart, she recalled: "At primary school I was bald as an egg. The kids in my year looked after me, but I remember getting called a boy a lot by older kids, which at that age isn't very fun."

Vicki, whose brother Ali, 21, is a car salesman, had no further dramatic health problems – apart from having her appendix removed at 14 – until she reached 19, when she was put on blood thinners for a cerebral venous sinus thrombosis.

This is a blood clot in the dural venous sinuses, which drain blood from the brain, and was diagnosed following a week of severe migraines.

She said: "I was taking the contraceptive pill at the time, which doctors thought might have caused it."


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"A nurse said to me that I have been unlucky, but I think I've been extremely lucky. I could have died when I had my first cancer, I could have had a stroke when I had my blood clot, but I didn't."

One of the mainstays of Vicki's childhood, through good times and bad, was her love of horses.

She had riding lessons from the age of eight, developing a talent for dressage and winning several competitions as a teenager on a horse called Toby that she rented with a friend.

Then, turning 21 in January 2016, it looked set to be the best year of her life, with her meeting her fiancé in the unlikely setting of her nail technician mum Helen's 'H-themed' fancy dress party, for her 50th birthday, at Hertfordshire's Chipperfield Cricket Club.

Recalling how she was dressed as a Hell's Angel at the 23 July bash, Vicki said: "He plays cricket for that team and was still there with some of his mates getting a bit p****d when we arrived, so they joined the party, although not in fancy dress.

"My mum went over, dressed as Helen of Troy, and interrogated him, asking why he hadn't met me. It was so funny!
"I couldn't have met anyone more perfect for me. He's so positive and he just lifts me up and makes everything fine."

Life was great for the couple until November 2016 when Vicki found a lump in her left breast.


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She continued: "We were getting ready to go out and I'd just had a shower and I remember watching a video that advised women to check our breasts in the shower.


"When I felt mine, I found a lump. I showed Simon and he told me to talk to my mum, which I did."

When Vicki saw her GP she was given an emergency referral to the St Albans City Hospital breast clinic for a biopsy and mammogram.


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A few days later on 17 November she was called back to St Albans and given the devastating news that she had Grade 3 breast cancer.


She recalled: "Mum was with me and while I was totally shocked, I think she'd had her suspicions."

She continued: "Still, we both just cried and cried and cried."

On 8 December 2016 she had a double mastectomy, to stop the cancer from spreading to the other breast – a procedure that is only performed on 50 women under 30 a year in the UK, according to the NHS – and reconstructive surgery.

After her operation at north west London's Royal Free Hospital, Vicki – who has no family history of breast cancer – also had six rounds of chemotherapy and was given hormone repression treatment, to "kill anything floating around."

Speaking about her treatment, she said: "Every time I get taken down to surgery I cry.

"I've been having operations since childhood but I never get used to them. I can't quite get the hang of being brave when it comes to going into surgery.

"But the most difficult ordeal was the chemotherapy. It's the hardest thing that I have ever had to endure. You lose your hair and your confidence."

She continued: "I lost the ability to physically do what I wanted. I got tired going up the stairs and while it saves lives it's a massively destructive path to go down in order to save your life."


Before starting her six-month course of chemotherapy in January 2017, Vicki tried, unsuccessfully to harvest her eggs, with a view to having children in the future.


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She explained: "Initially there was potential for four eggs and then it gradually went down to one and it was a phantom egg. So that's kaput for my eggs."

She added: "To be fair, I was first told this was likely when I was 12, so, for years I have been pondering the other options, like adoption or egg donation."

With her chemo finally over at the end of June, 2017, Vicki started looking to the future. Her hair grew back and she and Simon went traveling.

Vicki said: "We travelled around South East Asia from February to June 2018, going to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and a bit of Western Australia, which was wonderful."

She continued: "Then we worked for a few months and went around Europe from August to October, before going skiing with my family in Bulgaria over New Year."


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But then during a routine checkup on 20 February 2019 her breast doctor found another lump where the cancer had been before on her left breast and said that looked like scar tissue.

Vicki said: "It grew between the skin and the silicon and saline implant, so I could feel it below the nipple."

Doctors acted quickly and on 25 February Vicki had a biopsy which, on 6 March led to catastrophic news.

She said: "A nurse asked me to come in to the hospital and I thought 'I don't like this'. I asked why and made them tell me on the phone. Something in me wanted to hear it and my first question was 'Am I going to die?'

"I think my breast care nurse just said something to console me."

She continued: "I just didn't think it was my turn to go through it all again. I had thought that it might come back but not until I was 30 or later."

As Vicki and her family prepared for yet another battle, Simon took a step towards making one of her dreams a reality.

She said: "Simon proposed on 19 March. I'm a massive Anne Boleyn fan and he proposed in the chapel of the Tower of London where her body was buried."

But, a day later on 20 March, at a scheduled appointment following a routine CT scan at Watford General Hospital, Vicki was horrified to be told doctors had seen "a speck" on two of her spinal vertebrae.


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They explained that her breast cancer was now stage four, it had spread and she also had spinal tumors that were inoperable.
Vicki remembers seeing her builder dad, Dave, 55, cry for the first time, when they told him and her brother what had happened.

She said: "I'd never seen Dad cry before, but we're very close and normally pretty good at receiving bad news, so it was a shock."

Giving her anywhere between three and 30 years to live, they said they could not be more precise until they see the results of an MRI scan on 10 April, which she is expecting any day, due to the aggressive nature of breast cancer in young people.

Still, Vicki, who is also waiting for a new treatment plan, went ahead with a lumpectomy on 28 March at St Albans to remove her breast tumor below the nipple on her left breast.

She said: "I'm terrified of what my medical team will say next, to be honest. I said to my oncologist I thought everything would go back to normal but it didn't.

"This cancer will never be out of me now. There's nothing I can do. I eat healthily, I don't smoke, there's literally no reason for me to have been dealt this card."

"I'm most scared of not being around to watch my family grow old."

She added: "And I want to get married and have children, or even see my friends and brother have children and get married. I'd like to look after my parents when they get old too."

But, despite her fears, Vicki – who returned to work a week after her lumpectomy – is still determined to give herself incentives to carry on, the most important of which will be to buy a horse of her own.

She continued: "Being with horses is my escape from the anxiety, fear and sadness of the cancer that lives in me and how it's going to affect my life."

She said: "I even have list of horse names, that's how sad I am! Simon told me to call it Lord Elrond and I thought of Thor, so that's the short list at the moment.

"My dream is becoming a reality and I said to myself 'You can have your dream horse' and it takes away the fear."
To donate to Vicki's horse fund at www.gofundme.com/vick039s-wish


Beloved Scene/YouTube, HBO, @FairallJane/Twitter

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