A London nurse who survived cancer as a teenager is calling on women to join the fight against the disease by signing up for Cancer Research UK’s annual “race for life”.
Sophie McCallum, 25, has just qualified as a chemotherapy nurse at Barts Health NHS Trust after completing a course at King’s College London.
“The care I saw there made me realise this was the area I wanted to work in”
She was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma when she was 14. She underwent seven months of chemotherapy, which she juggled with studying for her GCSEs in Hampshire. Fortunately she responded well to treatment and it is now 10 years since she was told she was in remission.
Ms McCallum said: “Thanks to research and treatment I’m still here today. Now I’m determined to recruit an army of women to take part in Race for Life. By standing together in the bid to beat cancer, we can fight back against this devastating disease.”
She called on women to sign up and take part in one of the many “race for life” events taking place across the capital this year, including at Victoria Park on 27 June and the Olympic Park on 21 June.
Ms McCallum, who studied at Cardiff University, added: “My final year three placement was in haematology and oncology, which was such an amazing experience. I met people with the same disease I had had. It was tough seeing how things worked on a cancer ward as it was very different to the experience I had which was mainly as an outpatient.
“The care I saw there made me realise this was the area I wanted to work in,” she said. “I just felt that it was the most honest thing I could do. I knew what it was like and I’d been there.
“I love my job at St Barts,” she said. “I don’t go around telling my patients about what happened to me but every now and then when I think it is appropriate I will talk about it so they know I’m saying things from experience, not just to be nice.
“I’m thrilled to have qualified as a chemotherapy nurse and I’m really looking forward to putting my training into practice,” said Ms McCallum.
“We hope she will inspire Londoners to sign up for Race for Life”
She originally decided to train as a nurse after working in a nursing home and I realising she “really enjoyed making people feel okay and being there for them”.
Cancer Research UK’s “race for life”, in partnership with Tesco, is a women-only series of 5km, 10km, off-road and marathon events which raises money each year for research into 200 types of cancer.
Fiona Murray, Race for Life senior event manager in London, said: “We are very grateful to Sophie for her support and we hope she will inspire Londoners to sign up for Race for Life.”