Coronavirus (COVID-19): visiting The Royal Marsden suspended

Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest: Visiting The Royal Marsden is still suspended, but we want to reassure our patients, their families and anyone worried about cancer during this difficult time that we are still delivering treatment - the hospital is open. Please see more information here about how we are keeping everyone safe.

Ferhana Najeeb, 22, Medical Laboratory Assistant and former patient

I was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma when I was 10 years old. The treatment and care I received at The Royal Marsden was incredible and inspired me to go into medicine. I was so grateful to the doctors and nurses for saving my life.

When I was diagnosed, I had experienced months of symptoms. Childhood cancer is so rare that it can often take a while to get a diagnosis. When I came to The Royal Marsden, I was given chemotherapy straight away and was told I would lose my hair. I was so scared. I kept looking around at the other children further along in their treatment, thinking, 'what will happen to me?'

I came through the two-year treatment programme really well, thanks to the support of the nurses and my consultant Dr Mary Taj. Unfortunately, a few years later, I got Graves' disease, an autoimmune condition that affects the thyroid gland. I was treated with radioiodine for a couple of weeks and was not allowed to have any contact with anyone, which was really difficult. I now attend Dr Kate Newbold's thyroid clinic for regular check-ups.

For years, I have donated money to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, but I felt that this wasn't enough, so I explored the possibility of becoming an oncologist myself. I am working as a Associate Practitioner at The Royal Marsden's Centre for Molecular Pathology.

I believe that all of my experiences have helped make me the person I am today. I feel so proud to be working at The Royal Marsden and get such a buzz wandering along the corridors and seeing some of the porters who wheeled me around as a patient.

When we receive a paediatric sample in the laboratory, I think, 'someone was doing this for me years ago'. I am so happy that I can contribute to young patients' treatment in a small way now, and hope I will be able to do more in the future. My dream is to come back to The Royal Marsden as a paediatric oncologist and help children in the way that Dr Taj helped me.

I am so happy that I can contribute to young patients’ treatment in a small way now.

Dr Mary Taj, Consultant Paediatric Oncologist, says:

“I remember Ferhana coming into the clinic for the first time as a lively young girl. She dealt with her illness and treatment really well and followed all our advice. Even when she developed Graves' disease as a teenager, her attitude was remarkable. She always remained focused on her studies, which must have been difficult at times.

“We have a school room in the Oak Centre for Children and Young People to help patients stay on track with their studies. I do discuss exams with teenage patients as I want all my patients to reach their potential. A few have taken up careers in nursing, and another is currently at medical school. Ferhana told me a long time ago she wanted to be a doctor and I fully support her decision. If she adopts the same determination as she did with her treatment to her education, I am sure she will do very well.”