A brave Edge Hill student has graduated with First Class Honours despite a gruelling battle with leukemia.
Sadie Blood had just started the second year of her BA (Hons) Education degree when she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
But she remained determined to continue her studies and went on to be awarded top marks in her cohort for her dissertation and a First overall.
The 22-year-old from Leigh said: “I’ve always had my heart set on coming to Edge Hill.
“Graduating from Edge Hill has always been my ultimate goal and I’m so happy to have been able to come back to campus for an actual ceremony.
“There were times when I didn’t think I’d get to this point so to be able to pick up my certificate in person is amazing.”
Sadie first noticed a lump in her neck while on holiday during the summer break between her first and second year at Edge Hill University.
“I just thought I’d been bitten at first but then I found a second lump. It sounds weird but I knew it was cancer; I was terrified.”
Her concerns were taken seriously by her GP and she was fast-tracked for an ultrasound.
“This was going on while I was starting second year. I went all out during Freshers’ Week because I just knew I was really ill. Then I had a breakdown in one of my lectures and phoned my mum to tell her all about it. It all happened so quickly then.”
Following diagnosis, Sadie moved back home with her parents Diane and Bernard, and started treatment at The Christie Hospital immediately.
But her Edge Hill friends rallied round and were a huge support during her illness.
“They took it in turns to come to appointments with me and would come and see me in hospital. They even threw me an ‘All Seasons’ party to make up for what I would miss while having treatment. They just treated me like I was normal.”
But as intensive treatment progressed and Sadie’s health deteriorated, friends and family felt it would be better for her to put her studies on hold.
“Everyone was saying to stop, doctors were telling me I needed to put my health first but I was determined to carry on.”
Sadie battled through chemotherapy and faced the added trauma of sepsis and facial nerve damage; she could only walk with the help of crutches.
“It was a nightmare,” she admitted. “Uni work was the only thing keeping me going.”
Sadie completed her assignments with the help of a key worker and valiantly kept going until the May of her second year.
But her health continued to deteriorate and she eventually made the tough decision to defer, restarting her second year the following September.
“It was difficult going back; I’d been away from campus for a year. But I’d worked so hard to get to uni; I needed to graduate and nothing was going to stop me. I have days where I still can’t believe what happened but I’ve had no choice but to get on with it. This is my life now.”
Sadie’s tutor Dr Beth Garrett commended the student on her “positive and resilient attitude”.
“I cannot express my admiration for how she has dealt with this,” Beth said.
“It would have been very easy to give up or to submit to feelings of self-pity but Sadie battled through this, returning to university with a new cohort and completing her degree with First Class Honours.
“Her dissertation was a truly ground-breaking study and represents the pinnacle of all her hard work in the most challenging of circumstances.
“I am so proud of everything she has achieved and she is a true inspiration to others.”
Sadie finished her treatment in June but will continue to undergo regular check-ups for at least another year.
She is now taking some time out to recuperate before hopefully returning to Edge Hill to study a Masters in Education. She is also looking forward to supporting her 19-year-old sister Carrie as she embarks on her own Edge Hill adventure studying sports coaching.