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Shona Edwards was on track to complete her undergraduate studies in 2018 when she was diagnosed with papillary meningioma – a tumour at the base of her spine.
“Receiving the news changed everything for me, but I kept studying because I really needed to feel ‘normal’. I continued to study part-time in 2018 amongst surgeries and treatments then travelled to Prague at the end of that year for Proton Beam Radiation Therapy – a three-month intensive schedule of daily therapy,” Shona said.
An advocate for Youth Cancer Services and Cancer Voices South Australia, Shona is passionate about research that not only saves time and is less invasive, but ultimately provides better outcomes and quality of life.
“That kind of treatment is really time consuming and exhausting on the body, and after Prague I took a year off to recover. It is why I am so interested in new technologies and new innovations, including the research and clinical trials that will be happening at the South Australian ImmunoGENomics Cancer Institute (SAiGENCI)”.
“Disability and chronic illness are also quite common aftereffects for people who experience cancer. Today I live well with cancer, but the tumour is not gone. I use a wheelchair and crutches to get around as well as having a support worker who helps me get to uni,” she said.
In 2020 Shona returned to her studies to finish the subjects she missed in 2018, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (Advanced). She received the Brock Honours Scholarship to undertake her Honours in Classics in 2021, and she is currently in the first year of her Masters of Philosophy (Classics).
I think people underrate the impact of scholarships on students and their ability to be able to afford to live, especially if you have a disability like me. I cannot work more than odd jobs,Shona Edwards
“The scholarship was also encouraging for me. It validated that the quality of my work was not affected by my previous struggles,” she said.
South Australian Immunogenomics Cancer Institute (SAiGENCI) is a new independent cancer-focused medical research institute within the University of Adelaide.
SAiGENCI is bringing together the best researchers from around the globe to SA to lead cancer research and clinical trials. Their research will deploy cutting-edge technologies in immunotherapies and genomics, driving groundbreaking patient-focused cancer research. Learn more here.