‘My dead husband would be glad his best friend is looking after me and his children’
Life dealt Michelle Nicklin a harsh blow when she lost her
husband to cancer, but it was doubly cruel because she
was pregnant with their twin babies.
When 24-year-old Jamie, a chef, was diagnosed with
terminal non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the couple made the
brave decision to go ahead with IVF treatment using his
frozen sperm and give him the family he desperately
Tragically, her husband lost his battle against the disease
when she wasn’t even three months pregnant and
Michelle, a widow at just 22, had to bring her new babies,
a boy and a girl , into the world all by herself.
friend of Jamie’s.
She and Jamie had enjoyed a long friendship with Kevin
Grantham and enjoyed regular get-togethers. They were
both devastated by Jamie’s death.
And helping to support each other through their grief,
Michelle and Kevin eventually fell in love.
They are now married and have a daughter of their own,
four-year-old Kara. She was a bridesmaid at their
wedding in August 2013, along with twins Hope and
Johnny, now seven, who were also a bridesmaid and
Michelle, 29, a care assistant who lives in Bicester, Oxon,
with Kevin, 32, who works in sales, and the children, says:
“I’ve finally found happiness again.
was devastating and I never thought I would find such
happiness again. I feel very lucky to have found love
“And its lovely that Jamie and Kevin knew each other for
years. I know Jamie would approve of me marrying Kevin
and that he is looking after our twins.”
Jamie was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma – a
rare cancer which develops in the lymphatic system – a
few weeks before he met Michelle.
Michelle says: “He was only 20 and really fit and sporty.
He loved playing rugby and it seemed so hard to believe
that someone so young and fit could have cancer.
“I’d known Jamie since I was a teenager and we’d always
got on really well. But when we decided to get together
and become a couple he told me that he’d just had some
“He’d had some tests because he hadn’t been feeling well
and it showed that he’d got cancer. I couldn’t believe it at
first. He’d always been so healthy.
“But Jamie was optimistic that he would get better soon.
And I thought he would get better too. He was just so
young and full of life – there was no way that he would let
it beat him.”
Jamie began a course of gruelling chemotherapy
treatment. It was initially a success, but then further tests
showed the cancer was back. He had a bone marrow
transplant and radiotherapy but those didn’t work either.
Michelle says: “He was so strong throughout and he kept
saying that it wouldn’t let it beat him. He was so
They got engaged and went ahead with their wedding in
September 2006. The couple then decided to have IVF
treatment to try and start a family. This was the only way
as the chemotherapy Jamie was having could cause
Michelle says: “Both Jamie and I really wanted children.
We knew that it wasn’t the ideal way to start a family – I
hadn’t imagined it happening this way when faced with a
future like this – but we decided that we would try
anyway, despite his battle with cancer.
“ Jamie was desperate to be a dad. Luckily, his sperm had
been frozen before he had started chemotherapy.”
Friends and family helped with the cost of private IVF
treatment and two embryos were implanted in Michelle’s
Michelle says: “I was nervous in case it didn’t work and I
just had to pray that it would. Then two weeks later, we
made the thrilling discovery that the treatment had been
successful and I was pregnant. I couldn’t believe it.
“We went for an early scan but there was another
surprise in store for us. As I lay on the scanning table and
the sonographer ran the scanner gently over my stomach,
she turned and told me that she could see two
heartbeats. I was actually pregnant with twins.”
Michelle with first husband Jamie
The couple started making plans to raise them, but then
when Michelle was 10 weeks pregnant, Jamie’s health
started to deteriorate rapidly.
She told him she would always look after his babies, then
he slipped away.
Michelle says: “I was devastated, I couldn’t believe that
he was gone. We had been so happy celebrating the
pregnancy and now only 10 weeks in I had lost him. But I
knew that I had to be strong to look after our babies, so
that’s what I did.
“I had two little lives growing inside me. They were the
only things I had left of him and I had to take care of
The twins were born in March 2008 at John Radcliffe
Hospital , Oxford. John weighed 5lb 9oz and Hope 4lb
Michelle says: “It was so emotional when I saw them for
the first time. My mum and Jamie’s mum, Pauline,
couldn’t stop crying, but I couldn’t stop smiling. They
were so beautiful and I know that Jamie would have been
so proud of them both. They seemed like a double gift to
us sent from heaven. They were just so perfect to me.
“It was a daunting thought being a mum to twins on my
own, but I had lots of help and support from my family
and from Jamie’s parents too.”
Despite having lost her husband, Michelle insists she is
glad she went ahead with the IVF treatment, even if it
meant that Jamie never got to meet his twin babies.
She says: “If I’d known that I would have lost Jamie so
early in our marriage and he would have left me bringing
up our babies, I would still have made the same decision.
I fulfilled his last wish of being a father and now I’ll
always have his son and daughter with me.”
Numb with grief, Michelle set about trying to raise her
new son and daughter alone and was grateful when their
friend Kevin was around to help with the childcare,
manual jobs around the house and provide a shoulder to
Michelle says: “Jamie and I had known Kevin for years
and we had always got on so well with him. We had gone
out regularly with him as a couple for meals at
restaurants together and gone out for drinks too and
always had a real laugh.
“Kevin and Jamie had always got on really well too – they
were so close for years. They had that easy rapport
together that friends who have been close for a long time
“When Jamie was diagnosed with cancer, Kevin was so
upset. But he was a great support to both of us. After
Jamie died, he remained a great support for me.”
As the months went by after Jamie died, Michelle and
Kevin grew closer and both eventually realised they were
Michelle says: “I could always turn to Kevin for help
getting through it all. He understood what I was going
through because he’d been so close to Jamie and that
was a real comfort to me.
“As time slowly went on, we grew closer and closer and
eventually we started having feelings for one another. We
became a couple two years later.”
Another two years on, their daughter Kara was born which
has now made their family complete.
Michelle says: “It was an amazing moment when Kara
was born. She was such a welcome addition to our
“The twins absolutely loved having a sister – they had
been so excited when I was pregnant and they knew that
they were going to get a little brother or sister. Having
Kara in my life has now made my world complete.”
The couple then decided to get married. Michelle says: “It
was a wonderful day. I still get on very well with Jamie’s
parents and they are very happy that I’ve found love again
with Kevin. He’s a wonderful dad to all three of the
children and I know Jamie would be happy to see us
“‘I’ve always known that I would have had Jamie’s
complete love and support for getting together with Kevin
– he would just be thrilled that his friend is there to love
and support me.
“We have a radio alarm clock in our bedroom and it has
never worked, but it beeps every time we get into bed. I
know it’s sounds weird, but it’s like Jamie is looking
down on us, giving us his seal of approval.
“After all the heartbreak I’ve been through, I feel so lucky
to have found love again and have a second chance at