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"World Cancer Day is a day to celebrate the importance of Therapeutic Radiography"

Published: 04 February 2020

Tuesday 4 February is World Cancer Day. St George’s Therapeutic Radiography course equips students with the skills, knowledge, and technical expertise needed to plan and deliver radiotherapy whilst caring for people with cancer.

One of our current Therapeutic Radiography students, Hannah Andrews, discusses how the experience of family members with cancer led her towards the profession, what studying to be a Therapeutic Radiographer at St George’s involves and the importance of World Cancer Day to her.

Longing to be one of the students

“Like many people, cancer has made its mark on my family. My younger brother was diagnosed at only six months of age and so some of my earliest memories include the hospital environment and the many people who cared for him throughout his treatment.

“It wasn’t until many years later, when I found myself caring full time for my elderly mother in law, that I felt a strong desire to work in healthcare. She was also a cancer patient and during the hours I spent with her at St George’s, I would find myself longing to be one of the many students I would see walking through the corridors. It made sense to look for a career that combined my ever-growing passion for care with my personal interest in cancer.”

Amazing technology and equipment

“Therapeutic Radiography focuses on oncology and its management, radiotherapy technique and patient care from the outset - all of which were a huge draw for me. The fact that we get to use amazing technology and equipment at St George’s has been a massive bonus!

“We have a brand-new Virtual Environment for Radiotherapy Training (VERT) and treatment planning suites onsite at St George’s. The VERT suite not only allows us to practice our skills virtually but physically as well. There are lasers in the room, a treatment couch and immobilisation devices which can be utilised to practice patient setup whilst using professional vocabulary.

“The treatment planning software mirrors what is used in the clinical environment so we are able to get a real understanding of theoretical concepts before we move on to plan radiotherapy treatments ourselves.

“We have open access to these resources and they are great for building confidence in the lead up to clinical placements.”

Meaningful care and support

“On the course we are lucky to be placed at prestigious treatment hospitals. I am located at The Royal Marsden, Chelsea for the duration of the course and rotate within the department to ensure that I experience all aspects of the radiotherapy journey. This can be from pre-treatment imaging, to treatment planning, treatment delivery and all aspects of supportive care for the patients.

“It is amazing how much I have learnt so quickly ‘on the job’ with the support of both the radiographers and academic staff. Whilst the training is undoubtedly tough, the rewards are incredible. Patients can come for treatment every day for up to seven and a half weeks and, in that time, relationships are formed and meaningful care and support can be given. There is nothing better than knowing that you have helped someone going through such a tough time.

“World Cancer Day for me is a day to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of Therapeutic Radiography. It is a registered profession all of its own - Therapeutic Radiographers are expertly trained in the safe delivery of ionising radiation for the treatment of cancer.”

The government recently announced grants of up to £5k for students studying Allied Health courses of which Therapeutic Radiography is one. To find out more about these, please click here.




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