Sandra, Nick's mother, shares his story
In May 2006, Nick started to complain of a dull ache in his left thigh, which started to affect his sports. On visiting his GP, Nick was prescribed a month’s course of anti-inflammatory tablets.
On the third visit to the GP (September 1st 2006), Nick was informed that if the pain had not cleared by the following week, he was to return to the doctor. The pain did not clear and Nick was told that he needed an x-ray on his leg at the Orthopaedic Hospital in Gobowen, Oswestry. On September 15th 2006, this took place and Nick was told, that a shadow had been discovered on his left femur and was to return to hospital the following week for two days of tests which included X-rays, MRI scans and a biopsy. On the 20th September, came the news that a tumor had been found. The now anxious wait came to find out whether the tumor was malignant or benign. On 29th September, we visited the hospital to be told that the tumor was cancerous. Although this was the result, the consultants, were still unsure of the treatment which was to be taken. We were told, Nick would under-go an operation on 20th October, to remove the tumor and also 8 inches of his femur bone. On hearing the news, Nick took a brave outlook on the situation and even commented to ourselves 'If i can't play in midfield anymore, i'll get myself in goal!!'
After the op, Nick was in high spirits and this helped him to be home five days after. The wait was now on, to find out what course of action was now going to be taken. Whilst waiting, Nick carried on as his normal fun-loving self, watching his friends play football and joining in with the team banter, as always. On 7th November, Nick went for a follow-up appointment at Gobowen and was told consultants were still discussing his treatment, but was informed that he was making good progress and to now use only one of his crutches.
We were then informed, Nicks chemo would begin on 27th November 2006. This was to be undertaken at Christie's Hospital.The chemotherapy to be given was to treat osteosarcoma. The consultant at Christie's, then informed Nick, he would have to go through six five week courses of intensive chemotherapy. When asked how he felt, Nick replied 'Will I be able to go to Vancouver in May?', this was because his football club were due to travel there to represent the FA. Although Nick could not play and fulfil that dream, he was to go as a team member and work with the coaching staff.
As the chemo commenced, this was when reality kicked in. Nick was no longer the athletic figure that we knew, the severe weight loss and constant sickness had left our 'Nick' a shadow of his former self. On cycles he was meant to be at home recuperating, Nick's temperature would be severely high, and a mad dash would be made back to Christies, where he would be monitored. Despite this, Christmas came and went and the Canada trip was on the horizon. With having so many setbacks, the trip was looking doubtful. It was touch and go, right up until the end but his intravenous line was removed on Tuesday May 15th 2007 and Nick flew to Canada on Friday May 18th!!
This was a memorable time for Nick and a huge relief, that he could fulfil his dream of travelling with his teammates whilst representing his country. After a fantastic two weeks of sightseeing, fishing, managing the veteran side to victory and meeting local people, Nick returned home excited, upbeat and determined to live his life to the full.
On the 15th June, we returned to Christie's for a follow up appointment. After seeing the consultant and physiotherapist, Nick was told that he was progressing well and that he should be back to work by September, and possibly even resume his cricket by then.
On a follow up X-ray, at the end of June, we were then hit by devastating news that yet another shadow had been discovered above Nick's left knee. This was followed by a frantic week of X-Rays, MRI and CT scans. While receiving the results, Nick was dealt yet another blow, that the Cancer had returned and the only option was complete amputation of his left leg.
As well as dealing with this news, Nick was due to turn 21 on 17th July and go on a 'lads' holiday to Ibiza, which he later had to cancel. Nick was then given the decision of when he would have the operation. This decision for anybody, let alone a 20 year old who had already fought so much, was heartbreaking. But Nick, being Nick, wanted to celebrate his 21st in style and opted to go into hospital on 31st July to be prepared for his operation, which would undergo the next day.
After the operation, again Nick was very upbeat and impressed all the staff by his some what speedy recovery. Three days after, Nick was up and out of bed, and with the aid of his crutches, swinging his right leg in the air, as if kicking a football!! Making sure, the nurses weren't looking first!!
After seven days in hospital, Nick returned home on the 8th August, a proud and determined young man. Nothing was going to get in his way! Within a few days of being at home, Nick was out and about with friends, living a normal 21 year olds lifestyle as best he could.
Now over what seemed like a huge mountain, Nick threw himself into intense physio training, to build his right leg and upper body, to aim towards his prosthetic limb.
While Nick was working hard in the gym, making good progress with his prosthetic limb fittings and looking forward to his car, a Volkswagon Golf. Towards the end of October 2007, Nick developed a persistent cough and on visiting his GP on the 5th November, Nick was prescribed penicilllin. Two days later, we did not feel happy with his diagnosis and contacted his consultant at Gobowen, Oswestry and were given an appointment for the following day. At the appointment (9th November 2007), Nick underwent an X-ray and it was discovered he had fluid on his lungs. After having a further scan that day,we were then told, tumors had been discovered in both lungs. The consultant then dealt the blow that due to the severity of this, surgery was not an option and an appointment was then made to see the consultant at Christie's, the following Tuesday.
At Christie's, the decision was made for Nick to have his lungs drained. Further chemotherapy was offered but with a 50 per cent chance, at the best, could only prolong his life for a further twelve months at the most- if it was successful! After having such a bad time in his previous chemotherapy cycle, Nick said to the consultant, he did not want anymore chemo.
On 28th November, Nick had his lung drained at Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester. On returning home, Nick became very poorly and an ambulance was sent to take him back to Christie's Hospital on 12th December. The family were then informed, that Nick's condition would deteriorate and that it was very serious, taking it day by day.
On being asked what he would like to do, Nick wanted to be at home and spend Christmas with his family and friends. On the 14th December, Nick returned home. The next day, Nick was determined to watch his fellow teammates in an important local football match although this meant sitting in the car, whilst on oxygen. This showed his willpower, determination, and how much his life revolved around his friends. Things were getting more difficult for Nick and he was permanently dependent on oxygen.
Over the next seven days, all it was about, was making Nick as comfortable as possible and having family, teammates and friends around him. But sadly, in the early hours of Sunday 23rd December 2007, our Nick passed away peacefully in his sleep at home, with family around him.
Due to Nick's popularity, over 300 people attended his funeral on 9th January 2008. This led to a traffic standstill, as many friends, teammates and colleagues escorted Nick to his final resting place. Many donations, were received with monies being split between Bone Cancer Research Trust and Christie's Hospital, Manchester.
Nick will never be forgotten and has a special place in many hearts. Friends and family are determined to make Nick's story reach far corners and aim to raise the profile of bone cancer throughout fundraising for the 'Nick Pollard Fund for Bone Cancer Research Trust'.