A determined member of staff from the University of Chester, who battled with breast cancer while studying for a degree, celebrated her graduation today, Wednesday, November 5.

Careers research and information manager Nathalie Rees was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer in 2012, during the second year of her degree.

Despite having to put her studies on hold while undergoing treatment for her cancer for eight months, Nathalie returned to work and continued with her degree – a BA (Hons) Leadership and Management of Information Technologies (WBIS).

Throughout her studies, as well as juggling the demands of working full-time and being a mum-of- one, Nathalie raised thousands of pounds for cancer charities through her love of running.

In 2012, during her cancer treatment, she raised over £1,100 for Cancer Research UK by participating in the Race for Life and in 2013, she raised nearly £8,000 for the Hospice of the Good Shepherd by running the London Marathon. In addition, she completed the Great North Run and Berlin Marathon in September and has recently returned from America where she took part in the Chicago Marathon.

It is this determined spirit and passion for running for which Nathalie, who lives in Hoole with her daughter Rebecca and husband David, has been chosen to become a Cancer Research UK ambassador and will spearhead a major national campaign that invites people to take on their own running challenge and help accelerate life-saving research.

Nathalie said: “Finding out that I had breast cancer was a devastating blow to me and my family, but I’m so proud of the fact that I didn’t give up on my degree and I stuck with it.

“Completing the course has been such a personal achievement for me, not only because of what I’ve been through but also as nobody in my family has ever been to university.

The course has certainly helped me in my current role by enhancing my writing and research skills, but it has also given me the confidence to continue with study.

As a result, I have decided to undertake a Master’s of Business Administration course from September 2015!”

Nathalie is planning two more marathons next year in Boston and London and is encouraging people across Chester to take on just one running challenge over the next 12 months to help Cancer Research UK.

Natalie’s proud husband David, daughter Rebecca and father-in-law Walter accompanied her to the cathedral to see her graduate.

University of Chester graduation 2014