The boxer, 38, explained her mum had contracted the infection – that targets the protective membranes around the brain and spinal cord – and her brain began to shut down, before doctors intervened and were able to save her life.
Nicola was just 14 years old when her mother Dee fell ill and was forced to recover in hospital for months, leaving the sports star and her brother Kurtis at home.
Speaking on BBC 4’s Desert Island Discs with Kirsty Young, Nicola remembered the moment she first knew her mum was seriously ill and how she and her brother had rushed her to hospital.
She revealed how she and her brother had come home from school to find their mum still in bed and promptly called an ambulance.
‘We didn’t realise that she was dying… her brain was starting [to shut down] and that’s why she couldn’t remember anything,’ Nicola explained. ‘Luckily we got her to the hospital in time and they were able to save her life.’
She said: ‘At the hospital they were asking her questions and her brain had already started to close down from the meningitis. She couldn’t remember her date of birth or how old she was. She said she had two daughters… I was like, wow, she’s really sick.’
‘It was really tough,’ Nicola recalled, as she revealed how she had to ‘grow up quite quickly’ while looking after herself and her brother while her mum was hospitalised.
‘I felt I had to be the strong person,’ Nicola, who describes mum Dee as her ‘biggest fan’ said.
Dee was in hospital for three months, with Nicola stepping in to look after her when she returned home to continue with her recovery.
She is partnered with Katya Jones and had insisted she would only take part in the dance competition if she was given a female partner to dance with.
Following her Strictly debut with Katya, Olympic Gold medallist Nicola thanked fans for their support and described her first dance as ‘unbelievable’.
She wrote: ‘Last night was unbelievable, I never thought I would enjoy dancing as much as I am, I was sooooo happy and excited last night dancing with @mrs_katjones.
‘Thank you everyone for your support and your messages! We’ll be working hard next week on the new dance, can’t wait for you to see it! I’m a dancer baby!’
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