A bodybuilder has been told she has just 12 months to live after a "cyst" on her ankle turned out to be cancer.

Nikki Jenkins, from North West England, thought she had just bumped her ankle at the gym, but she was shocked to discover the lump was something far worse.

Jenkins, a professional athlete, who said she had never experienced any symptoms, had sought medical help where she was told by doctors the lump was a benign cyst that should clear on its own.

Doctors told the bodybuilder she had 12 months to live after the cancer in her ankle spread to her lungs. Photo / Supplied
Doctors told the bodybuilder she had 12 months to live after the cancer in her ankle spread to her lungs. Photo / Supplied

However, further tests revealed the 39-year-old had stage 4 lung cancer, which had spread from a rare form of soft tissue sarcoma on her ankle.

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"The diagnosis is that it is incurable and the NHS have advised that without treatment I will have a maximum of 12 months to live," Jenkins wrote on her GoFundMe page.

"Being a professional athlete means I have been in complete health all around for my whole life."

Jenkins said she didn't experience any symptoms and was shocked to learn of her diagnosis. Photo / Supplied
Jenkins said she didn't experience any symptoms and was shocked to learn of her diagnosis. Photo / Supplied

She said she ate well, trained consistently, didn't use sunbeds (which are still legal in the UK) and didn't have a family history of cancer.

"This is of course, a situation I never expected myself to be in," Jenkins said.

Initially, Ms Jenkins had surgery to remove the cancerous "cyst", but a few months later she was told the cancer had returned and spread to her lungs.

But months later it returned with Jenkins being diagnosed with a rare type of tumour called a pleomorphic rhabdomyosarcoma. Photo / Supplied
But months later it returned with Jenkins being diagnosed with a rare type of tumour called a pleomorphic rhabdomyosarcoma. Photo / Supplied

"It's like a movie, it doesn't feel real, it doesn't feel like it's happening to me," Jenkins told the Liverpool Echo.

"How is this happening, I've got no symptoms. If I hadn't had to go to the doctors for check-ups because of the tumour in my ankle I would have been completely unaware.

"When they told me I was really shocked. I'd expect someone with lung cancer to be coughing all the time and look ill but I'm not."

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When the lump on her ankle started to grow in size, Ms Jenkins booked another appointment to see her GP, who referred her for multiple tests and X-rays.

But it wasn't until she had a biopsy that Ms Jenkins discovered she had pleomorphic rhabdomyosarcoma – a rare tumour of skeletal muscle phenotype that can develop almost anywhere in the body.

After completing radiotherapy for the cancer in September, Ms Jenkins was given the all clear at Clatterbridge Hospital in Wirral, the Liverpool Echo reported.

But to her dismay, on October 31, a routine check-up revealed the cancer had spread to her lungs.

Ms Jenkins is now searching for a treatment through private healthcare and has set up a GoFundMe page to assist with medical costs.

She has so far raised more than £15,039 (NZ$29,900) out of her £50,000 (NZ$99,000) goal.

"I have found many private and alternative treatments which are available but they are expensive and I need some help to reach these goals," she wrote on the fundraising page.

"All funds raised will be invested into helping me explore these treatments and to help me continue living."

When she asked doctors what would happen if she didn't act on her condition, they told her she would have a maximum of 12 months to live.

"So I started chemotherapy the following week," she told the Liverpool Echo.

"So far I've found an immunotherapy and a proton therapy for my type of cancer but they are only available privately.

"I need to work out what the best course of action is to take. I'm trying to deal with having chemo and the emotional impact it's having on my family and doing the research on top."

Jenkins' niece Keeley Ray, who is assisting her aunty manage the GoFundMe page, said they were overwhelmed with the amount of support.

"We just wanted to post a quick message to express our immense gratitude for the support received. We are overwhelmed with the response and this fills us with hope," Ms Ray wrote.

Strangers have also flooded the comments section of the page sending prayers, love and support.

"I hope what I could afford helps. Stay strong sweetheart. Prayers sent," one person wrote.

Jenkins, who works as a professional bikini fitness athlete, has travelled the world with her career, competing in bodybuilding competitions, Ms Ray says.

"She's always in the gym and eats healthy and has an amazing physique, so for this to happen is a massive shock," the 24-year-old told the Liverpool Echo.

"But she's been so strong about it all. She's determined to find a treatment and none of us are going to give up."