A West Nottinghamshire College student celebrated with tears of joy this morning as she opened her results.
Natalie Carney, adult learner, opened her results envelope to reveal GCSE passes in maths and science after a long battle with cervical cancer.
Natalie (24) gained the C grades she needs in both subjects to take her one step closer to achieving her dream of becoming a nurse.
The journey has not been easy. It marked the end of a long struggle for Natalie, who was forced to abandon her GCSE studies at West Nottinghamshire College first time around, to bravely fight cervical cancer.
She had courageously tried to continue with her night classes after being diagnosed with the disease in February 2012, aged just 22.
But the trauma of her shock diagnosis and the prospect of several months of gruelling treatment left Natalie feeling she had little choice but to quit college before sitting her final exams.
The Mansfield student said: “I’d already decided to drop science and re-take it the following year. Then I discovered I was due to have a day-long chemotherapy session on the day of my final maths exam so I wouldn’t have even been able to sit that one.”
Natalie resumed her studies in September 2012 having finished her treatment, which included a hysterectomy and enduring painful chemotherapy and radiotherapy in July.
She added: “Returning to college was daunting because I’d shut myself off from people and was worried about mixing with people who didn’t understand what I’d been through.
“But my tutors, Ralph Ainsworth and Claire Kawamoto, were really supportive and my classmates helped me begin socialising again and get back to a normal life.”
In January this year Natalie finally got the news she was praying for when she was given the all-clear, describing it as “the best news ever.”
She said: “I was so relieved. I couldn’t stop crying for days.”
Now, after finally passing her maths and science, Natalie is returning to the college in September to study GCSE English at evening classes, following her day job as an inbound booking agent at the Annesley-based HQ of automotive retailer Pendragon Plc.
The 24-year-old has led calls for the cervical screening age to be reduced from 25 to 20.
Natalie aims to progress onto the college’s Access to Nursing course having already been told she had secured a place subject to passing her GCSE maths and science meaning her long-held ambitions of starting a new career in nursing are now firmly in her sights.
She said: “Nursing really appeals because I like to help people. I feel it’s something I’d be good at, especially after everything I’ve been through.
“I received the best treatment possible and I’d like to ensure other people have the same care. My illness has definitely spurred me on to do it even more.
“Having to leave college first time around and starting my studies again hasn’t put a stop to my plans – it’s just taken a bit longer, that’s all. It’s been a long journey to get here but I’m one step closer to a career in nursing.
“Above all, I’ve got a positive future again which, a year ago, I didn’t feel I had.”
A total of 202 students sat GCSEs at the college this year.
Results of the 205 exam entries include: An overall pass rate of 100 per cent (up 0.6 per cent on last year’s 99.4 per cent.
100 per cent pass rates in all four GCSE subjects offered by the college, namely in english, maths, psychology and science with science recording 100 per cent for the seventh consecutive year.
English saw a 2 per cent increase (up from last year’s 98 per cent).