UCL Cancer Institute Research Trust
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Debbie Phillips Cervical Cancer Research Fund

Debbie was born on 22nd October 1961. After a brilliant school career (Head Girl at Sheffield Girls’ High School), she went to Bristol University, and in 1983 she was awarded a First Class degree in Law (with, reputedly, the highest mark ever recorded). At University she met her husband, Mark, and in 1984 they married. Debbie qualified as a solicitor and spent 6 years at the City law firm, Freshfields, where she excelled. In 1990, her eldest daughter Katy was born. Debbie chose to stop working and became a full time mother. In 1993, Sarah was born and in 1996, Jack. Debbie devoted herself fully to the care of her children. She was active on many class and parents’ committees, helped out in the library and the school shop. Debbie was the mother who always had time to listen and help; she was warm, kind and generous and loved by everyone who met her. Katy is now at Oxford University; Sarah and Jack were still at school when they lost their mother. Debbie had regular cervical smear tests. Between 1990 and 2005 these were reported as negative, and when, by 2006, the cancer was finally identified, it had spread beyond her cervix and into her ovaries and lymph system. Surgery and intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy failed to cure the cancer. By 2008, the cancer had spread to Debbie’s brain and following a brain haemorrhage she fell into a coma. After yet more extensive treatments, the tumour in her brain hospitalised her for weeks and left her blind. Debbie battled on with extraordinary grace and courage for another 14 months and two further courses of chemotherapy. She refused to give in but, on 11th February 2010, following her long and brave battle with cervical cancer, Debbie died.

During her illness Debbie discovered that there was no research into cervical cancer therapies anywhere in the world, and compared with cancers such as breast and colon cancer, relatively few treatment options. A better understanding of how this cancer spread, understanding the biology of the disease, and identifying new therapeutic targets, as well as conducting clinical treatment trials, are urgently needed. There are still major problems which need to be addressed in order to eradicate this devastating disease. The Debbie Phillips Cervical Cancer Research Fund has been set up to fund research into cervical cancer. A concerted effort to understand the biology of this cancer will help to inform new drug development. A group of Debbie’s friends and members of UCL’s staff intend to raise money so that other mothers, daughters and wives will have a better outcome.

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