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Cancer survivor achieves dream of becoming a nurse

Published: 9 October 2019 at 10:30

Katy Payne

Katy celebrates her graduation after beating leukaemia as a toddler

An Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) graduate who was determined to become a children’s nurse after beating leukaemia as a toddler has achieved her dream.

Katy Payne, 21, graduated alongside fellow Nursing students at a ceremony at Chelmsford Cathedral on Tuesday, 8 October, the day after starting a permanent role within the Children’s Assessment Unit at Colchester Hospital.

Katy was diagnosed with leukaemia at the same hospital at the age of just two, on Christmas Eve 2000. She said: “Initially it was thought I had an ear infection, but I had been feeling sick and lethargic and my parents had been concerned. They called the GP to our house and I ended up being rushed to hospital. On Boxing Day I was transferred to Addenbrooke’s and at that point my skin was yellow and my lips were blue.”

Katy underwent treatment at both hospitals for two and a half years, losing her hair twice as a result of chemotherapy and other medication. She was finally given the all-clear at the age of five, but continued to attend outpatient appointments until she was 16. She said: 

“I remember patches of my time in hospital and some of the highs and lows. The things I experienced have made me stronger, and I have always said I would like to give something back to the hospital, the doctors and the nurses, and everyone that’s been part of my journey.

“My mum always tells me that I woke up from a lumbar puncture and I looked at her with my bald head and smiley face and said ‘mum, when I’m older I will become a nurse and make all the children better like they help me’.

“I’m so excited to become a children’s nurse and be able to make my story heard to those families who are going through similar situations to my own, to show them how things can change in a positive way.”

Katy, from Fingringhoe near Colchester, hopes to go on to study oncology in children and become an oncology children’s nurse. She added: 

“I have loved my time as a student at ARU. I have learned so much, developing my skills as a nurse and learning more about lots of illnesses and conditions. My tutor Laura Adley has been fantastic, she has supported me brilliantly throughout my time at university.”