The devastating diagnosis meant the end of cheerleading, beauty pageants and high school as she knew it.
"It was really terrifying because I was a kid and I didn't really know what to make of it," she said.
It was the beginning of a long, rigorous battle for survival.
"My cancer was moving so fast, it was so intense."
Intensive chemotherapy began right away.
She received full body radiation and two bone marrow transplants.
"Everybody that I knew who had gotten it had passed and so for me it was like a death sentence. I felt like my life was just over."
But it wasn't over. Nicole survived.
After multiple relapses and treatments at City of Hope Cancer Center she was cured.
"As soon as I started feeling good enough, I was just ready to hit the road. I went and started traveling," Nicole laughed.
She found love and got married.
But she feared she'd miss out on her lifelong dream of becoming a mom.
Infertility can result from the numerous treatments.
"I was told that I would never have kids."
But to Nicole's and her doctors' surprise, she got pregnant and two months ago, gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
She and her family now live in Huntington Beach.
On this World Cancer Day, Nicole wants others fighting the disease to try to seek out any positivity they can find and to be their own biggest advocate.
"No matter how many times doctors say, oh this isn't going to work - keep fighting."