Katy Payne, 21, will begin working at Colchester Hospital in Essex, in southeast England, more than 15 years after she was given the all-clear from her illness, SWNS reported.
“I remember patches of my time in hospital and some of the highs and lows,” Payne told SWNS of her cancer treatment. “The things I experienced have made me stronger, and I have always said I would like to give something back to the hospital, the doctors and the nurses, and everyone that’s been part of my journey.”
Payne’s symptoms first started with feeling sick and lethargic before she was rushed to the hospital on Christmas Eve. Leukemia is the most common cancer in children and teens, accounting for almost 1 out of 3 cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. Most cases are mainly treated with chemotherapy, while some cases may also require a stem cell transplant.
Once treatment ends and patients are declared cancer-free, patients go for regular follow-up exams to ensure no signs of leukemia have returned, as well as to check for short-term or long-term effects of treatment. After over two years of treatment, Payne’s last checkup was at age 16.
She told SWNS that it was after one of her more difficult sessions of treatment that she told her mom, at a very young age, that she wanted to be a nurse.
“My mom always tells me that I woke up from a lumbar puncture and I looked at her with my bald head and smiley face and said, ‘Mom, when I’m older I will become a nurse and make all the children better like they help me.’”
Payne graduated from Anglia Ruskin University’s Chelmsford campus on Tuesday, and has already started working. She told SWNS that she hopes to specialize in pediatric oncology.