South East Wales

Cardiff Uni cancer survivor Vithiya Alphons graduates

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Media captionMiss Alphons graduated with a BSc (Hons) in optometry

A student who was told she had just months to live after an aggressive cancer diagnosis graduated from Cardiff University on Tuesday.

Optometry student Vithiya Alphons was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia after returning for her final year in 2015 and needed a stem cell transplant.

Despite a global appeal, no suitable donor was found and doctors were forced to use her mother's cells.

Miss Alphons took a year out to recover and has now finished her course.

"I was not going to allow cancer to get in the way of getting my degree and my dream of becoming an optician," she said.

Image copyright Facebook/Vithya Alphons
Image caption Bavany Alphons donated stem cells to her daughter despite only being a 50% match

Thousands of people signed up to the stem cell donor register following the appeal by Miss Alphons and the Anthony Nolan charity.

She is now helping to highlight the need for more ethnic minorities to sign up as donors.

Miss Alphons, from Walthamstow, London, said it was tough returning to her studies. She was unable to attend lectures and had to rely on recordings and PowerPoint presentations.

She said she was able to get through it with the support of her friends, family and university supervisors.

"I just hope that my story will help encourage anyone who is going through tough times to not give up - anything is possible," she said.

Image copyright Vithiya Alphons
Image caption Miss Alphons received five rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy

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