Graduation was a particularly proud moment for Emily Phoenix who was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of eleven with only ten days to live.
A decade later, she has gained a degree in Working With Young People from Lancaster University and is busy completing the gold medal scheme for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
She said: “It’s been a long road but I’ve made it. I remember when I was six, mum and dad telling me I could do anything I wanted within reason so I chose to climb my first mountain, but this is the biggest mountain I’ve ever had to climb. Ten years ago I couldn’t move or speak, now I have a BA Honours degree. “
Emily was diagnosed with medulloblastoma – a large tumour - at the back of her brain in 2002. She underwent brain surgery and was off school for two years, undergoing months of intensive radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
“I couldn’t move or speak after the operation and I lost my hair but I was determined to recover.”
She was awarded a Princess Diana Award for her bravery while a pupil at St Edmund Arrowsmith in Ashton-in-Makerfield in 2005, later studying A and AS levels at St John Rigby College in business studies, information technology and media studies.
She took a Foundation degree at the Centre for Training and Development (CETAD) at Lancaster University, followed by a BA.
“The teachers were good and I had a specially adapted room with a lift so I can visit my friends.”
She now wants to become a teacher or youth worker and plans to raise funds for the charity Donna’s Dream House in Blackpool.
Lesley Harper, Scheme Director at CETAD, said: “Despite facing significant challenges and barriers of her own, Emily always finds the time and energy to support and help others. She is clear and focused in her goals and steadily works towards them, with her positive attitude and her can-do approach she has followed her dreams and in doing so has achieved an excellent degree result.”