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Teacher's Boyfriend Saves Her Life After He Discovered Lump In Her Breast While Cuddling

Nicky and Ben (PA Real Life/Collect)

You never realize how life-saving cuddling can be.

This French teacher talked about how her new boyfriend saved her life when a quick cuddle on the sofa led to him finding a lump on her right breast.


Nicky Hewitt, had a mastectomy in March 2016 and remains eternally grateful that Ben Brewer helped her catch the disease early. She was then diagnosed with stage two breast cancer.

Four years later, Hewitt celebrated her 40th birthday, a landmark she says that, without Brewer "copping a feel" she might never have reached.

Nicky and Ben (PA Real Life/Collect)

"I had a big party at the St. Albans Museum and Ben, who I am still very happily involved with, was my very special guest. I will never forget the night, back in 2016, when he found the lump," Hewitt said.

"I was lying in my bra and pajama bottoms one Friday night at his house, just after we'd started seeing each other and he was 'copping a feel' while watching telly."

Nicky at hospital (PA Real Life/Collect)

"He noticed the lump and told me straight away – then it all unravelled from there," she continued.

"If he hadn't have been so worried about it, I might not have survived to turn 40."

Hewitt and Brewer started dating in December 2015, nine months after first being matched on Tinder.

Ben and Nicky at Christmas (PA Real Life/Collect)

"He just looked really nice and seemed like a down to earth person," she said.

"He avoided the things people often say and the photos people often use on Tinder – like flexing muscles and showing off. He'd come out of a 12-year relationship and had wanted a bit of fun when we'd first matched."

"But, by the time he was finished having fun, I was seeing someone and then when I was free I sent him a text to see if he was on the market and he was seeing someone. It was all very complicated!"

"Then, one day he messaged to tell me he'd just split up with his girlfriend and I replied, 'Look on the bright side – you're free to meet me now.'"

Agreeing to go to a local Italian restaurant, Brewer arranged to pick up Hewitt.

Ben and Nicky at Christmas (PA Real Life/Collect)

"I was running late, in my jogging pants doing marking and he even helped me with my workload," she said.

"I think because we'd been chatting for nine months, it felt like we already knew each other."

Then, he invited her to a Christmas dinner his mom was hosting on their second date.

Nicky with friends at 40th (PA Real Life/Collect)

"The whole family were there as well as his best friend," she said.

"They were all quite shocked, saying I must have guts to meet them already, but it didn't faze me – I was quite happy, really."

Setting the pace for the rest of their relationship.

Nicky with a John Travola cut out (PA Real Life/Collect)

It was just a month into their fledgling relationship that Brewer made the discovery that changed Hewitt's life.

Her GP referred her for breast screening on February 8 at St. Albans' City Hospital, where she was examined, before having a mammogram and an ultrasound scan.

"I was pretty calm," she said. "I was convinced I wasn't even old enough to get breast cancer – I had no idea I should be checking my breasts."

"Then the sonographer kept going over the same spot with the ultrasound and that's when I started to panic," she continued.

"The consultant told me they had found calcium deposits in my breast and wanted to run a biopsy. The day after my hospital visit I was back at work but, for the first time in my career, I walked out of the classroom, as it was all too much to bear."

Nicky (PA Real Life/Collect)

"My mind was racing and all I could think was, 'oh my god, I have cancer,'" she said.

Two days later, Nicky's biopsy results confirmed that the tumor in her right breast was cancerous.

"Ben came with me to the appointment and I told him I completely understood if he wanted to be with someone else and to call it a day," she explained.

Nicky's IV (PA Real Life/Collect)

"At the start of a relationship you should be having fun. This wasn't what he'd signed up for," she continued.

"He was brilliant though and insisted he wasn't going anywhere. I know if I hadn't met him I wouldn't have gone to the doctors when I did and, by the time I'd noticed a lump, it could have been too late."

Nicky in a cold cap (PA Real Life/Collect)

"It's scary to think about – it could have been terminal," she said.

When she discussed her treatment options, Brewer's consultant offered her a mastectomy straight away.

"I didn't grasp the gravity of what the doctor was telling me – it was so surreal," she continued.

"In my head I'd be given a couple of tablets and sent on me way. They couldn't tell me what had caused it and the doctor was very honest, telling me it was just 's*** luck.'"

Nicky had to undergo hormone treatment (PA Real Life/Collect)

Hewitt kept making excuses not to schedule her mastectomy.

"When my consultant told me the date for the operation, my first response was, 'Sorry, I can't do that – my class have their first oral exam,'" she said.

"She turned to me and said, 'I don't think you understand – we need to move as quickly as possible.'"

Nicky's hair after treatment (PA Real Life/Collect)

The first time Nicky had ever had surgery, she admits that she was terrified.

"I'd never been in hospital before, let alone had a proper operation, and I was petrified I would die," she said.

"I asked Ben to look after my cat, Peanut, in case anything happened to me. I was convinced something would go wrong."

Nicky in her wig (PA Real Life/Collect)

"They took me to theatre and I felt sick to my stomach. I passed everyone one last time and said goodbye," she continued.

"Luckily, the lovely medical staff calmed me down, making me laugh and cracking jokes before I was finally put under."

Waking up from the three-hour operation, which also included a full breast reconstruction, she was told it had been a success.

"I was told I didn't have to have it, but I knew I couldn't take the risk of not having it," she said, when asked about chemotherapy.

Nicky (PA Real Life/Collect)

"Still, the idea completely destroyed me. It sounds awful, but the thought of losing my hair was what tipped me over the edge," she added.

Doctors also offered to freeze her eggs, since she would go through menopause earlier in life.

"Once again, Ben was a lifesaver," Hewitt said.

"He injected me every day with hormones for two weeks that encouraged my body to produce eggs. I just couldn't face doing it myself."

Nicky (PA Real Life/Collect)

"It already felt like we'd thrown Ben in at the deep end with everything," she said.

"Suddenly, the poor guy was being asked for his sperm as well! In the end, I said it wasn't fair and it could lead to problems further down the line if we didn't stay together."

Nicky with friends at 40th (PA Real Life/Collect)

Thankfully she didn't experience extreme side effects from chemo.

"Luckily, my hair is so thick that even after losing a quarter or so of it, you couldn't tell unless you knew me," she continued.

"That didn't stop me from crying when I brushed my hair and some fell out though."

Nicky with friends at 40th (PA Real Life/Collect)

However, early menopause caused a shift in her mood.

"It lowered my mood and made me cry nonstop," she said.

"I was constantly worrying about things that I shouldn't have been. Don't even get me started on the hot flushes and sweats."

Nicky with friends at 40th (PA Real Life/Collect)

"Some days I really want kids and others I can't think of anything worse."

Nicky with friends at 40th (PA Real Life/Collect)

The one big benefit of her breast cancer battle has been the bond it has created between her and Brewer.

"Ben and I have gone from strength to strength," she said.

"He's put up with such a lot. Me losing a breast, going through fertility treatment, worrying about losing my hair and now going through early menopause with my hormone therapy."

"He's such a positive person and that's so good for me and he's taken it all in his stride. Cancer puts a strain on you at the best of time and Ben is the perfect antidote to that."

Hewitt was told there was no evidence of cancer at her most recent check-up in October last year.

Nicky with friends at 40th (PA Real Life/Collect)

Hewitt is supporting 'Re-Write Cancer', a £20 million ($26 million dollars) fundraising appeal from Cancer Research UK, The Christie and The University of Manchester to help meet the cost of a new £150 million (almost $20 million dollars) cancer research facility.

Find out more and donate at cruk.org/rewrite