Posted on Tuesday 9 April 2019
Dorking cancer survivor secures place on law course to follow her dream of becoming a solicitor thanks to charity
A young woman from Dorking, whose dream to become a solicitor was thrown into doubt after she received a shock cancer diagnosis, has finally secured a place on a law conversion course thanks to a grant from the charity that supported her while she was unwell.
Maisie Nash, 22, had just begun her third year of her History degree at the University of York when she noticed that her energy levels had dropped and she started feeling breathless.
She dismissed the symptoms as lack of fitness, but after a lump appeared on her neck, Maisie went back to the doctors who told her she had bronchitis and swollen glands and she was given a course of antibiotics to take.
After Maisie’s breathing worsened she went to A&E, where she had various scans and tests. A three day stay followed, and finally Maisie was told that it could be cancer.
Maisie said: “That’s when I started to worry. I was in York hospital with my family in Surrey, 300 miles away but I was lucky enough to have my best friend by my side to support me from the beginning. Part of me was still convinced they’d probably got the diagnosis wrong so when I called my mum I told her not to come until the next day. Cancer is something that happens to people you know of, not you, and we had no family history of the disease.”
Not long after her mum arrived, Maisie was admitted to intensive care for two and a half weeks, because the lump was growing and pressing on her windpipe. During that time, a biopsy confirmed that she had Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Despite being advised to suspend her studies and return home so that she could receive treatment at the local Royal Marsden Hospital, Maisie was determined to finish her degree so that she could then go on to pursue a law conversion course.
Maisie had intensive chemotherapy from November 2017 to March 2018, which she describes as “the worst thing I’ve ever experienced.”
She said: “During the first round of chemo I didn’t know what was coming, so it was okay, but the day after that I felt the sickest I’ve ever felt, and was the sickest I’ve ever been. It took a while for them to work out which anti-sickness medication would help best, as the tiredness and hair loss kicked in.”
While juggling chemotherapy and various checkups and appointments, Maisie continued to go to lectures and managed to complete her degree with an impressive 2:1 grade.
Travelling to the hospital and coping with the side effects of treatment put many extra pressures on Maisie. The time she had to commit to attending appointments and having scans took precious time away from her studies, her part time job and finding law placement experiences to help with her career development.
“I had a really detailed plan of how I was going to secure and fund a place on my law conversion course” says Maisie. “Getting this diagnosis was such a shock and was obviously something that I could never have prepared for. It left me no time to prepare for my future plans, financially or practically. It was all I could do to focus on graduating from my history degree.
“I wasn’t able to fully attend work experience opportunities I had lined up because I was so unwell from treatment, so it was another blow to work out that my savings had been eaten up by covering the extra costs a diagnosis brings.
“I knew for a while that after completing my degree my plan was to take up the law conversion course so that I could become a solicitor, but after looking at my finances I couldn’t see how I would realistically be able to do that.”
Whilst receiving treatment at the Royal Marsden Hospital, Maisie met a CLIC Sargent Social Worker, Lara, who provides practical, emotional and financial support. Lara told Maisie about CLIC Sargent’s ‘Thrive Not Just Survive’ grant, launched in partnership with Societe Generale, one of the leading European financial services groups. Applicants were invited to apply for up to £5,000 to realise their education or employment dreams thanks to the partnership.
Maisie submitted her application and was selected by a panel of CLIC Sargent and Societe Generale staff to receive a ‘gold’ grant for her course fees.
She said: “I couldn’t believe it when I found out that I’d been successful. Because I’d struggled so much with work experience, finances, and companies rejecting my sponsorship applications leading up to the application I just assumed it would be another bit of bad news. It’s all thanks to CLIC Sargent and Lara that I knew about the grant, I’m so grateful.”
Maisie began her law conversion course in January, and aims to secure a training contract with a legal firm before becoming a fully qualified solicitor.
Societe Generale’s UK employees chose CLIC Sargent as its charity partner in March 2018 and aims to raise £1 million over the next three years towards initiatives that support children and young people’s access to education and employment. CLIC Sargent will also use the new funding to increase the support from its specialist care teams, who work tirelessly to limit the damage cancer causes beyond a child or young person’s health by minimising disruption to their education, careers, finances and future prospects.
The ‘Thrive Not Just Survive’ grant will reopen for applications later this year. For more information visit: www.clicsargent.org.uk/thrive-not-just-survive
Notes to editors
For more information, an interview or images, please email Rebecca.Bourley@clicsargent.org.uk or call her on 020 8752 2812.
About cancer in children and young people
Today, 12 more children and young people in the UK will hear the devastating news that they have cancer. Treatment normally starts immediately, is often given many miles from home and can last for up to three years. Although survival rates are over 80%, cancer remains the single largest cause of death from disease in children and young people in the UK.
About CLIC Sargent
When cancer strikes young lives CLIC Sargent helps families limit the damage cancer causes beyond their health. CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading charity for young cancer patients and their families. We provide specialist support, to help and guide each young cancer patient and their family. We will fight tirelessly for them, individually, locally and nationally. For more information, visit www.clicsargent.org.uk
Note to sub editors
Please note that the name ‘CLIC Sargent’ should not be abbreviated to CLIC, and that the word ‘CLIC’ should always appear in capitals, as above.
CLIC Sargent has welcomed the news that from today, no parent in the UK will have to struggle to find the money to pay for their child’s funeral again as the Funeral Fund announced last month is now available for families in England to access.
For every pack of selected Morrisons products sold during July, a donation of between 5-10p will be donated to CLIC Sargent as part of their 'Every Pack Gives Back' campaign.