22 June 2021

My Life Now - meet Paediatric nurse Chloe

It’s been 18 years since the Trust first set sail – what are the young people who have been on trips up to now? Our 'My Life Now' series shows a positive future after cancer is a reality. The Trust gave Chloe the drive to move forward and make the most of her life to pursue a career in nursing and write her own book...

Chloe sailing on her first Trust trip

Name: Chloe Hunt

Age: 26

Pronouns: She/her

Diagnosis/year: Neuroblastoma diagnosed March 2010.

When did you first sail with the Trust: I first sailed with the Trust in 2009.

What do you do now: : I am a Paediatric nurse and work for the NHS.

Explain what that means: I did a 3-year degree at university and I graduated with a BSc in children’s nursing. Since I qualified in 2016 I have been working on a busy medical ward caring for babies, children and young people up to the age of 19. This role means that I have developed many skills and have a wide knowledge of many conditions. I work alongside lots of medical professionals; teamwork is so important. Being a paediatric nurse means lots of interaction with both patients and their family. The ability to be able to help support the whole family is such a privilege

Why did you do want to do this? I wanted to do this based on my experience of having cancer and undergoing harsh treatments at lots of different hospitals. Before my diagnosis I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but after the amazing support from nurses I realised that this was my path in life. I guess it is also my way to give back and make a difference to other people’s lives; nurses can make that terrifying experience more manageable. I can now say it was definitely the best career path for me. It is so rewarding and I have received awards both as a student nurse and a qualified nurse which reaffirms I have made a difference!

What's the coolest thing you've done lately? The coolest thing I have done would be publishing my own book called ‘Beyond Fear Is Hope’, which is available on Amazon and all proceeds are going to the ‘Young Lives vs Cancer’ (formerly CLIC Sargent). The book details the rollercoaster of emotions I experienced during my cancer treatments and gives a detailed insight of my story.

I wrote the book to help other young people going through cancer and those in the ‘survivorship’ phase. I found it much easier to block everything out and I didn’t give myself the time to process the trauma I experienced. I went full steam ahead trying to reclaim my life back. I have a section at the end of my book with my tips for moving on from cancer in a ‘things I wish I had known’ perspective.

I also wanted to give hope that despite how hard it is, it's possible to reclaim your life and achieve amazing things after treatment. The response to my book has been amazing and it felt incredible to pick my book up for the first time, I just couldn’t believe what I had achieved!

Why did you need the Trust's support in recovery? When I finished treatment I found it incredibly difficult, all I had known is hospitals and a little bit of normal life. During treatment I was pretty much with my mum most of the time and I lost all my independence. It is that age you should be hanging out with friends and living a carefree life; which was a stark difference to the life I was living.

When I finished treatment I was very shy, anxious and I didn’t know who I was anymore. It’s not the case of picking up from where you left off, I wasn’t used to doing normal teenage things and found social situations scary and overwhelming. I was scared to look ahead and plan for the future.

The trip was a stepping-stone to help me regain that confidence and independence I had lost. I found the trip such an amazing experience and it gave me the drive to move forward and make the most of life.

What part has the Trust played in you doing what you are now? The Trust has played such a huge part in my recovery and without it I am not sure I would have had the motivation or confidence to pursue a career in nursing. Trying new things, learning new skills, meeting people who I could relate to and being away from home, gave me that realisation I could do anything I set my eyes on. Going on the trip was totally out of my comfort zone, but I loved every minute. I realised finding the new me and achieving my dreams would mean doing things that scare me, but doing so would lead me to a fulfilling life that is full of meaning.

What's your top tip for young people interested in working in your industry? Get some experience behind you even if it is volunteering at a nursery or work as a health care assistant on a paediatric ward if you want to work specifically in paediatrics. Make sure you have a strong personal statement and do interview preparation, as children’s nursing courses are really competitive! I will be honest it is not the easiest job, but it is so rewarding and it is incredible to be able to care for families and make a difference! Use your experience with cancer to your advantage and put yourself out of your comfort zone the rewards are worth it!