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‘Incredible’ student with terminal brain cancer graduates from The University of Manchester

Laura Nuttall was only given 12 months to live after being diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme back in 2018.

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 21st July 2022

An inspirational student with a terminal condition has “triumphed over adversity” by graduating from The University of Manchester this week.

Laura Nuttall, from Barrowford in Lancashire, was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme – an aggressive and incurable form of brain cancer – after a routine eye test back in 2018, and after she was found to have eight tumours, she was told she only had around 12 months to live.

Laura’s shock diagnosis led to her leaving university in London to concentrate on treatment and ticking items off her bucket list.

She bravely endured a craniotomy to remove the largest tumour, and then started a gruelling programme of radiotherapy and chemotherapy – however, her dedicated family then discovered an innovative new treatment available in Germany, and with the help of donations from friends, family and an online fundraiser, Laura was able to start the immunotherapy.

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She had to travel to Cologne every six weeks, but she responded so well to treatment that she was able to restart her studies – this time a little closer to home at The University of Manchester.

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Despite having to travel for the gruelling treatment – which was made even more difficult by COVID-19 travel restrictions – and on top of undergoing more surgery in March and December, working as an ambassador for The Brain Tumour Charity, and helping out in her community, Laura somehow continued to excel in her studies.

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And earlier this week, she finally graduated.

Laura’s proud family got to see her graduate after she was only given 12 months to live following her diagnosis in 2018 / Credit: University of Manchester

Laura graduated with a 2:1 degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from The University of Manchester, and was able to celebrate with her mum Nicola, sister Grace, and dad Mark proudly watching on.

“Laura was told that she had a life expectancy of around a year and wouldn’t be going back to university at all, so to see her graduate is just incredible,” Laura’s mum Nicola explained.

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“I know how hard she’s had to work to achieve her degree alongside her chemotherapy, surgery and treatment, so this day is a real celebration of her tenacity.

“We really couldn’t be more proud of her.”

Laura’s tutors at The University of Manchester have praised her dedication.

“I have met very few people with such a determination to live their life to the full,” said Professor Jackie Carter – who met and bonded with Laura as she also has a child with an incurable brain tumour.

“Unlike most of my students who are wondering what to do with their futures, Laura quite literally doesn’t know what hers holds – but she’s getting on with it, and doing it all with a spirit that shines through her every pore when you meet her.”

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Speaking on her graduation day, and reflecting on what it took to get to this moment, Laura said: “I don’t think I would have been able to achieve my degree without the help and support provided by The University of Manchester, especially the student welfare officers.

“In my first year, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make it to graduation – never mind get a 2:1.”

Featured Image – University of Manchester