Likes: Running/exercise, reading, travelling, eating out at good restaurants, watching good movies and series, and Spending time with my family and friends.
Dislikes: Arrogant people who look down on others.
“All lives matter, no matter who you are or where you come from everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect”.
Nicole Fuller is a 54-year-old who is a mother to two gorgeous sons named Ayrton who is 23 and Greg who is 17. Nicole is also married to a dentist and avid runner, Mr. Chris Fuller. The mother of two has been a diplomat for South Africa and boasts many titles to her name for the cross country and road running categories. Nicole is also an Oncology patient navigator, a breast cancer exercise specialist, a public speaker, a breast cancer survivor, and an advocate.
In early July 2017, Nicole came to the realization that she had a swelling in her left breast and suspected it was breast cancer, however, she chose to be optimistic about it even though she knew empirically that it may have been breast cancer. She was diagnosed with breast cancer after two weeks of undergoing a mammogram, ultrasound/ sonar scan, and a core needle biopsy.
“You can just imagine hearing the words, you have breast cancer- it strikes fear into the very depths of your soul”
Nicole was perplexed about the fact that she was diagnosed with breast cancer while she was fit and led a healthy lifestyle, the news came as a surprise to her, she started questioning her life span- she started questioning the amount of time she had left on earth, but that didn’t stop her from fighting. Nicole kept her spirit of optimism and kept going strong while bearing the pain until she finally received the medical treatment She deserved. Mrs. Nicole says that she is very grateful that she did not need to undergo radiotherapy and
chemotherapy since she had an early stage invasive endocrine/ hormonal breast cancer with an excellent prognosis. Nicole went on to have a remarkable recovery from her breast cancer.
“I was determined not to let cancer define me and focused on getting back to my fitness as quickly as possible”
The breast cancer survivor’s running career had instilled her with perseverance, discipline, and commitment. Marathon training taught her to push through the pain and endure it and by this, she was prepared to face her very frightening cancer journey.
Two months after her mastectomy she attended a woman of stature- breast health foundation collaboration fundraising event for breast cancer awareness during pink October breast cancer awareness month. It was at this event that Nicole encountered the amazing founder and CEO of the Woman of Stature, Charlotte Du Plessis. The woman of stature is an organization that empowers, supports, and trains women from all walks of life. Nicole indicated that it was through this event that she heard her remarkable surgeon Prof. Carol Benn give a mesmerizing inspirational speech. It suddenly occurred to Nicole that by sharing her breast cancer journey, her own knowledge, experience in athletics and coaching, she could inspire, educate, and motivate other cancer patients and survivors. Nicole went on to do a public speaking course through the ‘Woman of Impact speakers bureau’ and the training gave her the necessary skills and helped her to develop the confidence to stand up and fetch her life, and she also attained an aid and exposure that was necessary for her to develop her skill.
“It was through the Breast Health Foundation founded by Prof Carol Benn that I heard about Oncology Patient Navigation. Navigation is the individualized assistance given to cancer patients and their families to help them to overcome the many barriers faced on the very daunting cancer journey from diagnosis, through treatment and into survivorship”
Oncology patient navigation fascinated Nicole and made her determined to learn all about it, she later went on to do advocacy and navigation through the breast health foundation- The Fundamentals of Oncology Patient Navigation and Survivorship for primary care providers through the George Washington University, Washington USA.
She completed the CETI cancer exercise training institute USA-a breast cancer exercise training specialist course, furthermore, she was also accepted to pen down the AONN (Academy of nurse and patient navigation), oncology navigation exam in the USA. It was a privilege for her to be guided and mentored by Prof. Carol Benn and her Breast Health Foundation and to also do her practical navigation training at the Helen Joseph Breast Care Clinic. Nicole had to do a year of practical navigation training in order to qualify to write the exam. Working at the Helen Joseph Breast Care Centre certainly had a huge impact on Nicole’s life. Although It was very terrifying for Nicole to see the impact of a very fractured public health care system on our public patients, It gave her great pleasure to assist those patients from all walks of life and to help them to overcome the many barriers they face on their Cancer journeys and help to make things a little less daunting.
Nicole’s life has certainly transitioned for the better looking back at her own cancer journey. She indicates that her breast cancer journey was the one that aided her to fetch her life and achieve all the things she achieved in life. Mrs. Nicole says that as a breast cancer survivor you connect with other cancer patients on a deeper level. Helping people makes her feel
happy and it has changed her life for the better.
Nicole advises those that are experiencing the daunting journey of cancer to try and be as optimistic as possible even when things seem to be getting out of hand, she urges those individuals to take things one step at a time. Try not to think too far ahead it will just make you crazy. Look after yourself, find a hobby or an interest that can distract you from your cancer do not let it define you.
Woman empowerment means a lot to Nicole and as a result of her own breast cancer journey, she has gone on to meet people and be influenced, motivated, guided, and inspired in an extremely positive way by some powerful and influential women. Nicole holds her women empowerment beliefs by stating that When women support one another, great things can happen.
In April 2020 during the lockdown, Nicole launched her own Navigation, coaching, and speaking business. She believes that there is a need for oncology patient navigation, and it is her passion to combine navigation, survivorship, and the benefits of exercise for cancer patients. She believes that as a cancer survivor it is vital to look after yourself by monitoring your health, doing health check-ups, and follow-ups.
Besides her very successful sporting career, her biggest achievements are the experiences, the knowledge she has gained, the certifications she has worked so hard to achieve, the incredible people she met on her Cancer journey, and being able to make a difference in other people’s lives.
Nicole is looking forward to 2021 where hopefully our world will get back to some form of what we once knew as normal. Lockdown 2020 has certainly forced her to think outside of the box by launching her own business and making many new connections. She has as so far partnered with the ‘Filotimo Cancer project’ as well as the Cancer Association of South Africa and both of these organizations helped her to develop her knowledge, skills and offered further training and opportunity for her to continue making difference in the lives of many cancer patients and survivors. She also hopes to get out more to promote her personal navigation, coaching, and speaking business. She is far mostly looking forward to writing her AONN oncology navigation generalist exam in either November 2020 or May 2021 in the USA.
Nicole wants to leave behind a legacy where she touched and impacted many cancer patients and survivors, a legacy of cancer awareness, support, education, advocate, motivation, and inspiration