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Overcoming Adversity - Sue Hennebry

Interested in studying life sciences after a number of personal experiences with cancer, and its treatment. Joined the OU. Mother died and now cares for 93 year old father.

At 18, I decided not to go to university but it had always been at the back of my mind that I wanted to study to degree level. I started my Life Sciences degree study in 2009 at the age of 48.

I was always interested in science and health issues, and in 2007 I started a work at a bio-technology company. I had experience of cancer through my own brother’s leukaemia in 1991, and when I was pregnant with my son it transpired I was a perfect match for a bone marrow transplant for my brother. So six weeks after my son’s birth I donated my bone marrow. Through my own experience, and through my work and speaking to patients impacted by disease, my desire to understand the science behind diseases and medicines increased, and I knew the time was ‘now or never’ to fulfil my desire to study for a science degree so I started with the OU in 2008. To say it has been a rollercoaster experience is an understatement. During my studies my mum died and other close family members have experienced serious illnesses including cancer. Throughout these terrible times I somehow managed to keep going even though the temptation to throw in the towel was very strong.

My father is now 93 and I am one of his main carers but throughout everything – including my mum’s death – he wanted me to continue and he is very proud that I have achieved my goal.

I have juggled study time at evenings and weekends with support and many cups of tea from my husband. The impact of a decision to study extends to the whole family, not just the individual, with many, ‘sorry I can’t, I have to study’ in response to requests.

I don’t know what the future holds but I do know my scientific knowledge is extremely relevant to my work and life, I also know I wouldn’t change my decision to study with the The Open University. My sense of achievement is immense.

"I have juggled study time at evenings and weekends with support and many cups of tea from my husband. The impact of a decision to study extends to the whole family, not just the individual, with many, ‘sorry I can’t, I have to study’ in response to requests."



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