Tiffany Williams, aged 21, from Blacon , Chester , found out she had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, an uncommon blood cancer, just three months before she was due to start her Tourism Management degree at the University of Chester.
After many doctor’s appointments, Tiffany was recommended six months of chemotherapy and advised that it would be best to delay starting her degree.
It was then that Tiffany met Kate Northcott Spall, chief executive of The Pamela Northcott Fund, an advocacy service for cancer patients.
Kate is a campaigner for cancer patient rights, as well as an advocate and mentor to teen cancer patients.
Tiffany said: “I met with Kate and told her everything. She couldn’t understand why the doctors had advised me not to attend university.
“With Kate’s help, within a month of being diagnosed, I was ready to go. She has supported me through all three years of being an undergraduate, making sure I was on track and arranging a support team for me at university too.
“If I ever needed someone, they were only two minutes away!”
Kate said: “It has been an honour and privilege to support and mentor Tiffany through her treatment and time at university, I hope it serves to inspire others.
“Tiffany has a tenacity and bravery I have rarely seen in 10 years of working with cancer patients. My journey with Tiffany doesn’t end here and I will be her life long cheerleader and ensure she stays well and hopefully cancer free.”
Tiffany was also supported throughout her studies by Maria Skinner, residential life manager at the University of Chester.
Tiffany said: “Maria is also another great lady, whenever I had a query she pointed me to the right person, and if I needed a chat about anything, I knew I could go to her.
“She helped ensure my halls of residence were close to my classes so it wasn’t too tiring getting to lectures after treatment.”
Maria added: “I am always delighted to see our students do well and having seen how tenacious and brave Tiff has been, her graduation will be particularly special. “When Kate first contacted me about Tiff, I asked a number of teams if they could help.
“Thank you to Robin Gallie, our conferences manager, who released Tiff’s room early so that she could settle in before her treatment started, and to the Students’ Union, who arranged fast passes for Tiff and a friend into all Freshers’ activities.
“It meant she could do all of the fun things during Induction Week without getting too tired.
“Everyone at the university pulled together to do whatever they could to help.
“I know how much Kate has done for Tiff and we are both very proud of this remarkable young woman.”
For Tiffany, the student life experience was very different.
Understandably, managing her studies around a serious illness was challenging, she would have to attend chemotherapy sessions between lectures, which left her feeling sick and fatigued.
However, Tiffany had a great support system thanks to her tutors.
She said: “I would have chemotherapy on a Monday, then the next day go to the library and my lectures.
“It wouldn’t be until two days later when I would feel horrendous with sickness, aching and fatigue.
“Some days I couldn’t leave my room in case of infection. I lost my hair and became a little weak.
“I remember walking to a lecture for the first time without my wig on, everyone turned around and stared, my heart has never pumped so fast!”
She added: “My tutors on my course were amazing too and I can’t thank them enough for putting up with me. They are an asset to the university.
“Colin Potts, senior lecturer in marketing, tourism and events management was my personal academic tutor, he was always there if I had any questions.
“Another favourite tutor of mine was Martin Metcalfe, who is the programme leader for BA events management.”
Tiffany is now two years into remission and working at a local hotel, putting the skills and knowledge she learnt through her degree to good use.
Her future plans involve possibly relocating to Dubai with her partner, to work in the hospitality industry.
Tiffany said: “Throughout my time at university, I never excluded myself from anything and I always thought of myself as normal.
“The support systems that the University of Chester has in place for students are incredible and the teams of people behind these are amazing!
“After my three years at the University of Chester, I could not be happier that I chose to study there. The world is your oyster, anything is possible if you put your mind to it!”
You can find out more about The Pamela Northcott Fund here: www.pamelanorthcottfund.org.uk and follow them on Twitter @campaignkate.