MSc is the next challenge for inspirational student 

Date posted

8 July 2021


A student who was diagnosed with a rare cancer at a key point in her studies has successfully graduated from Edinburgh Napier University with a first class honours degree.

Hayley Kane standing in garden setting, holding degree scroll

Hayley Kane recovered from the devastating news, and two operations, to complete her BSc (Hons) in Animal and Conservation Biology – even though at times she had to leave lectures to change her dressing following radiotherapy treatment.

Now the brave 24-year-old is set to continue her studies in September with an MSc in Statistical Ecology at St Andrews University.

Hayley said: “I’m thrilled to have completed my degree and I hope my experience will serve as inspiration to other students who may be struggling due to external factors.  It is possible to overcome hardships and achieve your goals as long as you are willing to work for it.” 

Hayley, of Fairmilehead, Edinburgh was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma shortly before her third year assessments started – although she only learned about it after it had been removed. The rare form of cancer develops in cells around joints and tendons, often near the knee, and is most commonly associated with young adults.

Hayley had had issues with her knee for almost a decade, which worsened to a point where she was in constant pain and struggling to walk without crutches.

Hayley Kane in hospital clothing in a ward setting

An x-ray picked up what was initially presumed to be a benign tumour but after an op to remove it she was told it had been synovial sarcoma, and was likely to have become cancerous fairly recently.

Hayley said: “I opted not to have chemotherapy due to the potential long-term effects on my health, and went on to have 12 weeks of radiotherapy to my knee.  I underwent treatment throughout my third year assessments and over Christmas, with it ending shortly before the next trimester began. 

“There were times when I had to excuse myself from lectures to change the dressings on my knee due to the excessive fluid leaking from the burns on my leg, but thankfully my friends were always happy to help fill me in on anything I had missed.

Close-up injury detail of the back of a knee following cancer surgery

“Since my treatment finished I have thankfully remained cancer-free and look forward to resuming my studies at St Andrews.”

Dr Gavin Ballantyne, lecturer in Edinburgh Napier’s School of Applied Sciences, said: "Hayley has done brilliantly at Edinburgh Napier. Not only has she overcome serious health issues, but she's also remained engaged, motivated and has produced an excellent final year project. We're so pleased to see her graduate with a first-class degree and now go on to start an MSc at St Andrews."

School of Applied Sciences

Our applied approach to science and social sciences makes a positive impact both nationally and internationally. Through our strength in research, and our reputation for 5-star teaching (QS), our graduates are recognised as work-ready from day one.