A woman who overcame cancer to graduate with a Master's in pharmacy has told of her pride at being able to complete her studies during the pandemic.
Siobhan Greene (23), from Brookeborough, Co Fermanagh, was diagnosed with neck cancer in October 2019. She graduated this summer from Queen's University and has since taken up her pre-registration position at a pharmacy in Lisbellaw.
She said: "In September last year I found a lump in my neck and after some tests I was diagnosed. I hadn't actually noticed the lump until one day I was doing my make-up. It wasn't sore and I just showed it to someone in work at the pharmacy and was told that I was safer to get it checked out... getting the diagnosis was obviously a shock.
"I had only just turned 22, and then I got an operation on December 13 last year. Thankfully they were able to remove all the cells. I was told that I was going to need radiotherapy and some other treatment. But after surgery it turned out that I didn't need any treatment.
"I've never been so happy in all my life, and not just for myself, but for my mum and dad, who were extremely worried."
During this time Siobhan was in the final year of her Master's.
"It was really tough mentally to keep going with my diagnosis, but thankfully Queen's were really accommodating and any classes I needed to miss they were able to rearrange for me," she explained.
"I was meant to take an exam the day I had my surgery, but I was able to do it the day before. I was then able to recover last December and into January, so it worked out the best possible way it could have worked out, because when I was told that I didn't need any more treatment it meant that I could get on with finishing my degree."
And while Siobhan had her heart set on a proper graduation, it will have to wait until the pandemic is over.
She added: "I got the good news that I was in remission, and then to be told that there wouldn't be graduation ceremonies, just a virtual one on July 3. On my graduation day I was actually working, so it didn't really feel like I had properly finished. Queen's have said that we will get a proper graduation, but we don't know yet when that will be.
"This year has been a whirlwind, it was the best and worst year of my life. I never expected to be able to get through it and I feel better for it. I am really proud of myself for being able to overcome all the obstacles that were thrown at not just me, but everyone, and graduate with my class."