Inspirational student who graduated despite having brain cancer has sadly died

An inspirational student who graduated from her degree at The University of Manchester despite having incurable brain cancer has sadly passed away.

Laura Nuttall discovered she had Glioblastoma Multiforme - an aggressive and incurable form of brain cancer - after a routine eye test in 2018, and dropped out of university in London after being told she only had twelve months left to live.

After bravely enduring a craniotomy to remove the largest of eight tumours, she started a gruelling programme of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The family then discovered that an innovative new treatment was available in Germany, and with the help of donations from friends, family and an online fundraiser, Laura was able to start the immunotherapy.

She had to travel to Cologne every six weeks for the treatment, which was made even more difficult by coronavirus restrictions. However, she responded so well that she was able to restart her studies - this time at The University of Manchester, in order to be closer to home.

Despite travelling back and forth to Germany, undergoing more surgery, working as an ambassador for The Brain Tumour Charity and helping out in her community, she showed incredible strength and managed to excel in her studies.

As a result, she graduated last summer from her Politics, Philosophy and Economics degree with enormously proud Mum Nicola, sister Grace and Dad Mark by her side. Nicola said at the time that seeing her graduate was incredible after being told Laura only had a life expectancy of around a year and wouldn’t be going back to university at all, and that it was a real celebration of her tenacity.

Laura continued raising money and awareness for brain charities, as well as promoting the research being undertaken at The University of Manchester’s Geoffrey Jefferson Brain Research Centre. Sadly, her cancer progressed quickly last Autumn, and the family decided to bring forward their festive celebrations to early November to ensure that she would be able to enjoy one last Christmas.

Despite the cancer progressing Laura defied expectations once again, and was able to fight on until the early hours of Monday morning when she passed away peacefully, surrounded by her loved ones.

"The thoughts of myself and everyone at the university are with Laura’s parents Nicola and Mark and her sister Grace at this incredibly difficult time," said Professor Jackie Carter, Academic Lead for EDI DIsabilities. "She was an incredible and spirited young woman. With her treatment, she defied all the odds after her diagnosis to complete her studies and graduate last summer. I got to know Laura and her amazing family well during her time here, as my own son has incurable brain cancer."

I’ll never forget her telling me when we were raising money together at Manchester Pride that she wanted people to know who she was as a person, and see her determination, rather than just being seen as someone with cancer. Laura will always have a very special place in our University’s collective memory.