Brave Lisa will make her family proud on her DMU graduation day with help from support fund

A student who has been fighting cancer is among those being helped by the new Graduate Support Fund at De Montfort University (DMU).


Midwifery student Lisa Gray, of Ruddington, Nottinghamshire, faced missing out on the ceremony but the support fund is ensuring she will be there to celebrate her achievements with her peers.

The 50-year-old mother-of-two said: “Receiving this award means I can spend this special day with my family, make them proud and create a wonderful, precious memory.”

Lisa’s path to graduation day is an inspirational story of courage in the face of adversity and never giving up.


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She had nurtured the dream to become a midwife for many years, but the timing was never right due to family and previous career commitments. However, in 2012 Lisa had the chance to change her life and was delighted to gain a place on DMU’s BSc Midwifery course.

It was everything she hoped it would be and from the start Lisa knew she had chosen the right career as caring for women and their families came so naturally to her. She was also achieving well academically considering she had been out of formal education for some years.

The first two years of the DMU course flew by and she started the third year in September 2014 with great anticipation that she would soon be a qualified midwife. But in December 2014 initial investigations for anaemia led to the devastating diagnosis of terminal oesophageal cancer.

Lisa explained: “The prognosis was extremely poor and I was offered palliative care. During the last two-and-a-half years I have endured two gruelling courses of chemotherapy and after much insistence persuaded the medical team that I was a suitable candidate for life-extending surgery, which I had in November 2015. Unfortunately, the cancer has now spread to my lungs and I have recently commenced my third course of chemotherapy.

“Throughout this journey my determination to return to my studies did not wane, but sadly the maximum time allowed to interrupt the course was nearing the end and I had to accept I would not meet the fitness-to-practice requirements by September 2017 so made the agonising decision to terminate my Midwifery course.”

But after a conversation with her personal tutor, Lisa was thrilled to learn that she had attained enough credits to be awarded a Higher Education Diploma in Health Related Studies and that she would be able graduate after all.

“This means so much to me and if by some miracle I manage to beat this terrible disease I’ll have something to show for the work I’ve done,” Lisa added.

She applied to DMU’s Graduate Support Fund as her ill health has led to severe financial pressures. “I should have qualified in September 2015 and been in a position now where I could work in order to support my family, but this has not been possible,” she explained.

Lisa is due to attend her graduation day on Thursday, July 20.

The support fund was launched in April to help the most hard-pressed students with graduation day costs to ensure they don’t miss out on celebrating the end to their time at university. Under the fund, students can apply for a pair of free tickets, free gown hire – or both.

Lisa added: “I would like to say a big thank-you to DMU’s Midwifery team who saw my potential and supported me throughout the course. Although I will not get to practice as a midwife in the future, I am truly grateful for the experience I had on my work placements while at DMU, where I cared for several hundred women and their families, and had the honour of assisting 30 precious babies into this world.”

Posted on Friday 14th July 2017

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