An NHS worker won a “surreal” £1 million lottery jackpot shortly before receiving the all-clear from her breast cancer treatment.
Maxine Lloyd told the PA news agency she thought a phone notification she received during her first batch of radiography treatment was a message from her partner – but it was actually a message from her bank to say the winnings had been transferred into her account.
The 50-year-old said she was keeping an eye on her fiance, Wayne Tilbury, who had recently collapsed with a chest infection, at 1.30am when she decided to “have a flutter” on the National Lottery’s £30 million Mega Cash Showdown Instant Win game.
In the space of two weeks, Mr Tilbury, a 57-year-old builder, was taken to A&E with the chest infection, Ms Lloyd rang the bell to mark the successful ending of her cancer treatment, and the couple won £1 million.
“I feel really lucky,” Ms Lloyd said.
“I’m here, I’m alive, and we’ve just had a bit of a cherry on the top of the cake really.”
The occupational therapist, from Kettering, Northamptonshire, said she decided to go public with her win to urge people in a similar position to call their GP.
She told PA her first purchase was an iWatch but the couple have already looked at buying a house – with one they had been desperate to get appearing on the market on the day they won the jackpot.
Explaining her reasons for going public with the win, she said: “We didn’t want to go public initially.
“But I’m really passionate that if one woman, or man, goes and just checks their skin or their breast… if there’s anything different, let the specialist tell you that – which is what they did to me.”
Ms Lloyd was told her primary cancer had been successfully removed on Christmas Eve last year but specialists recommended undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy to reduce the risk of the cancer returning.
“I finished my chemotherapy and then a few weeks later started the two weeks of radiotherapy and I was literally on the table having my radiotherapy and my bag was in the corner of the room.
“My phone pinged and I thought it would just be Wayne checking I’m all right, because he’s not allowed in with me.
“When I got up and went out of the room, I looked and it was the bank notification telling me there was £1 million in my bank.
“The timing – everything has just been surreal with the timing.”
Now she has had the all-clear from cancer, Ms Lloyd said she wants to “give something back” for the treatment she received.
“Life’s been a little bit mad and there’s lots of little things that I think will help – small things like… breast cancer gowns.
“I just want to give something back.”
As well as family and friends helping her throughout her treatment, Ms Lloyd said her two-year-old German Shepherd, Rosco, had been like a therapy dog to her and “dragged” her out for walks.
She told PA: “Rosco has been by my side – he senses it.
“He’s been like a therapy dog – he’s just been there.”
Asked if he will be treated now they have won the money, Mr Tilbury said: “We did think about another Rosco.”
Ms Lloyd added: “I said, can he have a girlfriend now?”
Speaking about the moment she won the jackpot, she said: “Wayne wasn’t very well and I was still keeping my eye on him – and while I was keeping my eye on him I was a bit bored – one o’clock in the morning bored.
“So I thought I’d have a flutter. I went on to the Instant Win games, put £20 in the account and played a £5 game.
“It was a game of three parts with two mystery numbers and on the second part it came up with two numbers and revealed £1 million and I just sort of carried on playing because I didn’t quite get it.
“I didn’t process it – I finished the game and it said ‘Congratulations, phone this number’, but I thought ‘I can’t, it’s one in the morning’.
“I went to wake Wayne up and said ‘Wayne, we’ve won £1 million’.
“He literally stirred and went ‘Well, you can’t do anything about it now so go back to sleep’.
“So I had to wait all night until he woke up.”
Speaking about their reaction when the win was confirmed, Ms Lloyd said: “I think I just went and made Wayne a cup of tea.
“I don’t think we processed it, to be honest.”
“I don’t know whether we have now, actually,” Mr Tilbury added.
Ms Lloyd continued: “It’s surreal, but it’s really exciting.
“We’d been looking at houses and homes before all of this, and we found one we really liked as one to look at – and it strangely came on the market on the day we won.
“So we went and viewed it, and I think that made it real.
“We also wanted to treat the children, and being able to do that, that made us smile and absorb it a bit.
“We were really lucky in life before – we have an amazing family and friends.
“I think the term I used before was we were rich in life before this, really lucky.”
After her win, Ms Lloyd said she decided to play again and won another £5.
“I was in shock and Wayne went back to sleep, but I still had £15 left out of the £20 so I went back on and thought ‘Oh, I’ll play another one’ and I won £5.
“I thought ‘I’ve got to stop now… I’ll just call them in the morning’.”