Breast cancer patient qualifies as a nurse despite undergoing cancer treatment

Sharon Maywood.jpg

A Peterborough City Hospital nurse, who successfully completed her nursing degree apprenticeship despite battling breast cancer, has been nominated for a national Our Health Heroes award for the Breakthrough Apprentice of the Year category.

Sharon Maywood received the devastating news that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, but was also studying to complete a degree apprenticeship course to become a gastroenterology nurse.

Sharon said: “I originally worked in accounting for years, but decided to have a complete career change when I turned 40 and become a nurse. I started as a HCA on Ward A10 at Peterborough City Hospital and joined the Nursing Associate pilot scheme in January 2017 before qualifying in January 2019. I then went on to top up my qualification as a nurse and qualified in February 2021 with no debt and a wealth of experience.” 

However, part way through her course in 2018, Sharon was diagnosed with breast cancer. Undeterred she took the brave decision to carry on with her studies, refusing to take a single day off, despite undergoing intensive cancer treatment. Against all the odds, Sharon qualified as a nurse earlier this year with an impressive pass mark of 81%. 

Sharon continues: “Whilst training I also had a separate personal battle due to an illness in 2018, so I juggled my work with my treatment and the staff around me have been so supportive. A10 are a great team to work with, but my mentors Tanya and Rachel really have been fantastic.” 

The support that Sharon received from Anglia Ruskin University and North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust were crucial to getting her through the toughest of times and her colleagues couldn’t be prouder. 

Vanessa Waller, Associate Professor of Nursing at Anglia Ruskin University, who had the pleasure of teaching Sharon during her degree apprenticeship, said: “Sharon’s dogged determination in the face of adversity is an inspiration to us all, not least to the next generation of would-be degree nurse apprentices, who in years to come will look up to Sharon as a role model.” 

Jo Bennis, Chief Nurse for North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I am incredibly proud of Sharon for everything that she has achieved over the last few years. She has grabbed every opportunity and despite personal illness, has continued to juggle her studies and work and achieve her qualifications. She is a fantastic role model for anyone considering a career in nursing. I am so pleased that she has been nominated for this award and we will all be rooting for her on the night.” 

Skills for Health’s Our Health Heroes Awards 2022 celebrates remarkable individuals in our health and social care sector. The breakthrough apprentice of the year category is sponsored by UNISON. To cast your vote for Sharon before 4th February visit: