Barnet mum gets early breast cancer diagnosis thanks to lucky encounter

Cancer survivor bumped into her former oncologist in the park who recommended she get a check-up


A Barnet mum-of-three was diagnosed with breast cancer over a year before her next screening thanks to a lucky encounter in Woodside Park.

Nicky Marks’ routine check-up was not due for 18 months when she bumped into her former oncologist, Dr Victor Jaffe, during a run in May.  

Their conversation changed her life. 

“I said to him ‘I’m one of your survivors. You operated on me 13 years ago.’ 

“And he looked at me with a strange look I can’t really explain and he just said ‘please make an appointment at my clinic.’”

Doctors found a lump in her breast. “My heart just sank and I just thought ‘here we go again’,” she said. 

Now Mrs Marks, who has already survived the disease once, is set to have surgery in September and expects to later receive radiotherapy. 

But she is keen to stay positive - and is hoping to raise £8,000 for Alyn Children's Hospital in Jerusalem by running 5 km every day until her lumpectomy in September.

Her son Daniel, 28, a guest entertainer on a cruise ship, is also taking part, running on a treadmill on board the vessel and donating all of his tips to the appeal. 

Her daughter Sarah, 26, is also donating all her tips from her hairdressing job.

The family’s Just Giving page has already raised more than £7,000.

When Mrs Marks, 52, was first diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer 13 years ago, she was convinced she wouldn’t live to attend her son’s barmitzvah. 

“I was so distraught,” she recalled. “I just thought, I’ll never see my son’s barmitzvah. I’ll never see my kids graduate.”

She underwent surgery and gruelling rounds of chemotherapy and radiation over a two-year period and went on to make a full recovery.

Doctors continued to monitor her condition with annual mammograms up until 2018.  

But after this second diagnosis, she said, “I’m not going to spend two months stressing about having breast cancer. I’m just going to do something positive,” she said. 

She received outpourings of support on social media and even calls at work from people inspired by her story.

“People are really getting involved and the donations that I’ve got are from friends of friends of friends,” she said.

“I’ve obviously touched a nerve somewhere. It’s just amazing how inspiring it’s been for people.”

She hopes she can inspire others to remain vigilant and stay positive if they do get a diagnosis. 

“Although you check yourself, if you’re due a mammogram, take it,” she said. 

“And also, if you are unfortunately given any sort of bad news, whether it be cancer or anything, you always have a choice to go with love or to go with fear.”

To donate to the fundraiser, visit 

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