Date published: July 12, 2018
Scientist Lucy battles brain cancer to earn first-class honours
A SUPER-COMPETITIVE student earned first-class honours despite battling brain cancer though her degree course.
Lucy Salt (pictured on the left) overcame the trauma and several courses of treatment to earn top marks on her degree in pharmaceutical science at the University of Salford.
And rivalry with her classmates* helped pushed her to her goal: “I’m a competitive person so trying to score higher results than my two friends really helped me focus on what I want.
“Sitting back is not an option really in this situation and my degree is something I was very passionate about and so I put the time and effort needed.”
Aged just 19 and only months after leaving her Warwick home for a new life at university, the brain cancer diagnosis was a total shock.
“I was experiencing ear problems, headaches and dizzy spells but you could never imagine it might be cancer at my age,” says Lucy.
Teenagers in the UK have a roughly 1/4000 chance of getting cancer, although cancer in teenagers and young adults is increasingly common, with a third of diagnoses being for brain tumours.
Despite an option to return home and undergo surgery and a course of chemotherapy, Lucy chose to stay on in Manchester and undergo a clinical trial to reduce the tumour.
By completing her treatment over the summer she was back in the saddle when her university course began again in September. In fact, apart from missing part of her placement year at Nottingham University hospital, Lucy has completed all her assignments and exams, securing firsts for everything. She even managed to fit in a part-time job as a swim school supervisor and work as a laboratory assistant at university.
“I would struggle to concentrate due to the headaches and slept a lot. Fortunately most of the drugs were given over the summer vacation so did not affect my studies. What got me through were determination and the willingness to keep going and enjoy my life.”
The brave undergraduate kept her illness to herself and her closest friends and only told her lecturers when she needed some time off for a second round of treatment.
Dr David Pye, Head of Chemistry at the University of Salford, said: “Lucy has been remarkably brave and committed. She wanted this degree and nothing was going to stop her.
“To get the marks she has achieved under the circumstances is really amazing and partly down to the closeness of the group who have been so supportive of her.”
Lucy is now planning to work in clinical research in the pharmaceutical industry, and says the experience of going through a drug trial as a patient has made her all the more determined to make a contribution to the fight against disease.