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Cancer survivor sets her sights on graduation

18 July 2017

Vithiya Alphons

A Cardiff University student who survived a year-long cancer fight which included launching a worldwide on-line appeal for a stem cell donor from her bedside, five rounds of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a bone marrow transplant graduates today (Tuesday 18thJuly, 2017).

Optometry student Vithiya Alphons first hit the headlines when she embarked on a social media campaign to encourage more people to join the Anthony Nolan register when it was discovered she had just months to live unless a suitable stem cell donor was found.

After no suitable match was found, Vithiya’s mum eventually made a last-ditch attempt to save her daughter’s life. Now, just two years on from her cancer diagnosis and months of gruelling treatment Vithiya is heading back to Cardiff to attend her graduation ceremony after successfully completing her final year.

My degree and my dream

“It was really tough returning to my studies due to my treatment and low immune system, I couldn’t go to lectures and had to do it on my own with recordings and powerpoints,” recalls Vithiya.

“I was not going to allow cancer to get in the way of getting my degree and my dream of becoming an Optician,” she adds.

Vithiya was first diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, an aggressive form of blood cancer, in 2015 after falling ill just days after returning to Cardiff to embark on her final year of study.

Following her diagnosis, Vithiya was forced to take a year out of university and spent ten months receiving treatment.

Incredible support

Vithiya Alphons with parents
Vithiya insists she was only able to get through with the help and support of hundreds of people who helped with her donor appeal and the incredible support she received from her friends and family back home in London and in Cardiff.

Vithiya adds: “Cardiff University and the School of Optometry in particular were incredibly supportive. I could not have achieved my dream of completing my degree without my amazing supervisors...”

“I just hope that my story will help encourage anyone who is going through tough times to not give up - anything is possible. I want to thank my family, my amazing friends for helping me achieve my dream.”

Vithiya Alphon

“To all those going through hard times, trust in God, work hard and never, ever give up. If I can do this, you can do this.”

Vithiya graduates with a BSc (Hons) in Optometry on Tuesday 18th July 2017 and takes up her first job as an Optometrist in August.

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