Cassie, of Croft-on-Tees, who was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer after a visit to her GP, said: “When you are faced with your own mortality you realise that you only have one life and you can’t spend it in a job that isn’t totally fulfilling.
“The care I received during my treatment was wonderful and I knew then that I wanted to be in a position to be able to give something back to other people who needed help.”
After noticing an issue Cassie was referred to the Friarage Hospital, Northallerton, where an aggressive tumour was diagnosed.
“I was quite stoic about the whole thing really,” said Cassie. “But it was probably the lowest point in my life. But what I did know was that I didn’t want to go back to being a chef. I wanted to do something that would make a difference, to help make people feel better both inside and out.”
With no nursing qualifications, Cassie looked for jobs in local nursing homes but all required caring experience.
“I went to an open day at the Friarage Hospital and they recommended that I did a Level 3 course in health care,” said Cassie. “I found myself driving past Darlington College and signing up for the course – and it’s the best thing I ever did.”
The full-time course enabled Cassie to study a range of conditions, including mental health and dementia, while also gaining invaluable experience at a local care home.
“Going back to college changed my life,” she said. “It took something as momentous as cancer to make me make the change but I’m so glad I did. Now I get to spend every day helping people and doing something that I want to do for the rest of my life.”
Darlington College placement assessor for clinical health care support Mary Layfield added: “Not only did Cassie complete the Level 3 course she excelled in all areas and performed well above the national standard.”