Running mum fights brain and heart tumours discovered while training for Sunderland Half Marathon

Runner Nicola Norton suffered a stroke and was told that she had tumours on her heart and brain. Nicola is pictured with husband Stephen.
Runner Nicola Norton suffered a stroke and was told that she had tumours on her heart and brain. Nicola is pictured with husband Stephen.
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A MUM-OF-TWO is on the road to recovery after doctors found two tumours after a stroke.

Wearside woman Nicola Norton, 38, was training for this weekend’s Sunderland Half Marathon at a gym in Hendon when she began to feel unwell.

On returning home, her condition worsened and she was taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital where medics told her she had had a stroke.

Just days later Nicola was given the devastating news she had cancerous tumours in her heart and brain.

“The doctors were gobsmacked,” said Nicola, from The Broadway, near Springwell Road, Sunderland.

“They said it’s something that is only seen once every 10 to 15 years.

“The reason for the stroke was that part of the tumour had gone in my blood and become lodged in my brain.

“I couldn’t move my right arm and once I was in hospital, I couldn’t even get to the end of the bed.”

Nicola, mum to Samuel, 10, and Elliott, six, had open-heart surgery at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital and a brain operation at the Royal Victoria Infirmary to remove the tumours.

She is now receiving radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment, as she battles to stay on the road to recovery.

“The doctors say they got everything out they needed to when they did the operations,” said husband Stephen, 40.

“But now they need to see what cancerous cells are still there, so we are just waiting to see how things go at the minute.”

Although she can walk and has regained the use of her right arm since the operations last month, Nicola can only manage short distances and relies on the use of a wheelchair.

Despite being unable to run in this year’s Sunderland Half Marathon as planned, Nicola and her family, including sister Sarah Anderson, 36, will be out on the streets of the city for this weekend’s festival of running.

Under the name ‘Team Norton’, they will be making their way around the Sunderland Big Mini-Fun Run tomorrow, with Nicola using her wheelchair.

On Sunday, the group are to set up a “cheering station” to encourage runners as they pound the pavements.

“I know as a runner myself, that there’s nothing better while you’re feeling shattered during a run to hear someone shouting your name,” said Nicola, who works for Sunderland University.

“I remember doing the Great North Run and at one point on the route, I was absolutely shattered when a man gave me a Ribena ice lolly. At the time it was like something from heaven.

“It’d be great if as many people as possible could get out on the streets of Sunderland and support the runners.

“People might not realise, but it really makes a difference.”

Nicola and Sarah are also taking part in Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life on Sunday, May 25, at Herrington Country Park. To donate, go to