Dr Vicky Forster was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia on New Year's Eve 1994 at the age of 7.
Vicky had been ill with a suspected chest infection over the entire Christmas period of 1994 and was asleep in bed on Christmas Day unable to take part in the family’s games.
Concerned that she wasn’t getting any better, Vicky’s mum took her back to the doctor. The doctor ordered a blood test and on New Year’s Eve it was confirmed that Vicky had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. She was admitted immediately to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London to begin a two and a half year program of treatment.
The news was a huge shock to the entire family but they rallied round Vicky, taking it in turns to be by her side in the hospital. Vicky found it hard being off school and away from her friends for so long but the teachers and hospitals were both incredibly supportive, too, keeping her passion for learning going.
Vicky had always wanted to get involved in science and asked her doctors and nurses questions throughout the treatment process. Learning about what was happening to her helped Vicky come to terms with everything that was happening to her.
Thanks to the amazing work of the doctors and support of her family, Vicky beat the ALL and has since gone on to lead a remarkable life.
Vicky’s personal experience focused her scientific interest on biology and chemistry-based sciences and saw her take a biomedical sciences course at Durham University before pursuing a PhD on the genetics of acute myeloid leukaemia.
Off the back of her PhD, Vicky is now working as a cancer research scientist at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research in Newcastle. She is passionate about finding out why leukaemia happens and determined to find a cure.
Vicky is also a committed volunteer and fundraiser for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. She raised more than £2000 running in last year’s Great North Run and Berlin Half Marathon and volunteers with the charity in the North East.
In addition to all of this, Vicky posted a celebratory tweet on completion of her PhD last year that gave hope to everyone and was re-tweeted 13,000 times!
She wrote: ‘Dear Cancer I beat you aged 8, and today I got my PhD in cancer research. Take that’