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Triumphing over medical adversity

Posted on 14 July 2015

Emily Chandler, 23, from Brighton, has overcome significant medical problems to attain an MChem degree while working full-time during her Master’s year.

Emily Chandler

Suffering from Fibromyalgia, Emily deals with a daily combination of chronic fatigue syndrome, all-over pain and cognitive dissonance, and her medication consists of over 20 tablets a day. During her final year, she has worked full-time as an Industrial Trainee at MRC Technology while studying for her degree through distance learning.

She says: “With Fibromyalgia, I spend my life either in pain, confused, exhausted, or a combination of any of those three. Other issues include hypersensitivity, depression and anxiety.

“These health issues were not as pronounced in first year, however I began to have issues when my medication changed around the beginning of second year. I was put on quite a lot of codeine and this caused significant issues, as I kept falling asleep during lectures, the hypersensitivity was exacerbated and my cognitive memory was not good. Needless to say, I mitigated to January exams!

“Second year also posed issues, however due to the codeine's effects on my head and liver I came off it for the summer, and spent time working on a project in the York Structural Biology Laboratory. This resulted in a paper being published recently in Angewandte Chemie. Throughout this time I was also Secretary of the York Student Food Co-Op Society, SCOOP.

“Third year was a blur, I’m still not sure about half of what happened, although I applied for industrial placements, and was successful in gaining a place at MRC Technology. I mitigated the January exams again and re-sat some of the summer exams, but I was so ill during this time my mum came up to York to look after me.

 “Fourth year, my Master's year, has been much more eventful. Dealing with a full time job, a full time illness and distance learning has been quite an experience for me. Thankfully my support system is incredible and the company I work for have been superb.

“As the icing on the cake, I got engaged earlier this year, which gives me something to look forward to! I am incredibly proud of what I have achieved this year.”

Emily graduates with a combined BSc and Masters in Chemistry (an undergraduate programme that combines BSc and MSc in a four year course) with a (2:1) on 17 July 2015.