1st February 2023

In 2019, Louise Nicholls was treated for thyroid cancer at Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre (BHOC).

Fast forward to today and Louise has been in remission for 2 years and is now the President of the Insurance Institute of Bristol (IIB). As part of her role at the IIB, last year Louise chose Bristol & Weston Hospitals Charity as their charity of the year.

This World Cancer Day, 4th February 2023, Louise shares her story and tells us a little bit more about why she chose us.

Make a donation this World Cancer Day Tie a ribbon for a loved one


My symptoms – I didn’t have any. A friend of mine in London spotted the lump on my neck. I went to the doctors and the doctors said we need to do blood test now. They called me back 24 hours later and I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer within five days.Louise being treated for Thyroid Cancer at Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre

They were concerned at the time because it was touching my lymph nodes. They got me in for an operation and removed the entire thing. Then I had radiation treatment. It coincided with a bank holiday weekend, so you’re meant to go in for 24 hours, but I ended up stuck there for four days.

I just tried to make it fun. I took spa items in with me, but I was in so much pain with it, it was hard to keep positive. The worst part for me was the effect of radiation on my skin and my tear ducts. The radiation burned my tear ducts, so I would cry from the pain, but the tears were hurting my skin, so I was constantly showering and washing my face.

The doctors and nurses go above and beyond

I think with the pandemic, we’ve all come to understand and respect the medical industry even more. It’s crazy when you think about it. I went into a surgery and they basically cut out my organ and I didn’t even question their motive. You never do that with any other profession. You wouldn’t just walk into a room and give your life over to them and fully trust that they’re going to give it back in a better condition. They were doing everything they can to keep me alive. I felt safe.

There was one very kind nurse. She came in on the bank holiday just because she felt so sorry for me. She said she’d been sat at home in the garden thinking of me so she came in to do a quick test and let me go, which is so nice and what I needed!

I took a teddy in with me to radiation for some company because there is nothing worse than being poorly and not having a comforting hug. The issue is that everything that comes in there with you becomes radioactive just from touching you. You’re only allowed to leave when you’re at a safe radioactive limit, so I had to leave teddy behind. I got a call from the nurse and they’d felt really bad chucking out the teddy because he was so cute, so they put him in confinement. They sent me a picture of my teddy where it had radiation tape around it. They basically kept hold of it for a year until it became free of radiation. I said to give it to the next child going in for treatment. I luckily didn’t need it after that time, but you never know who else might.

Charity of the year

About a year after my treatment, I was voted in as Deputy President for the Insurance Institute of Bristol and began thinking about the charities I would support upon becoming President. The IIB is the regional arm of the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII).  The CII is a professional body dedicated to building public trust in the insurance and financial planning profession.  

Bristol is a long-standing institute, at 131 years young we have seen many changes in the insurance and financial world. We are proud to offer CPD events and a social platform for those looking to push their careers to the next level and meet like-minded professionals.

As President you get to choose your charity, which means that all funds raised by the institute during the presidential reign, will go to the chosen charity.

I picked this charity because it just stuck in my mind from the treatment that I had, the fact that it was a way to thank the doctors and nurses and to show some sort of acknowledgement. I knew that what they were doing was right. I just had an emotional connection to it.

Giving back to our hospitals feels like the right thing to do

I spent so much time in BHOC, going in and out, multiple appointments. I was always going past the shop in the Bristol Royal Infirmary and seeing adverts for the charity. It’s a very important charity. I took an interest in what you guys do and what was happening.

I don’t want to speak for people and their medical journeys, but I’m aware that our IIB members would have benefitted from Bristol and Weston hospitals in the last couple of years. Some will have benefitted from the specialist treatment available in the hospitals. It felt right that the Insurance Institute of Bristol would fundraise for a charity that impacts all of its members, in such a positive and necessary way.

The IIB are proud to host an annual dinner to celebrate academic achievement, network with our members and raise money for the Bristol & Weston Hospitals Charity. This year we are proud to say that we raised over £2,000.  We will have more opportunities over the year to add to the total and are planning a three peaks challenge in the Brecon Beacons for September. We’re asking people to sign up and pay a fee which covers the basic costs and then fundraise £100 per person minimum. We’re hoping to get 15 people so that’s £1,500.

Supporting Bristol & Weston Hospitals Charity feels right. It feels like the right thing to do. And it feels like we can really make a difference.

Make a donation today and help more patients like Louise

Tie a ribbon in memory of a loved one