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#UofTGrad17: PhD student with terminal cancer reflects on life, goals, private degree ceremony

Precilla Veigas had nearly 80 per cent of her PhD completed when she was diagnosed with cancer. 

She writes in the Hindustan Times that she saw no other option but to continue her work.

“I refused to let life’s traumas throw me off course,” she writes in the New Delhi-based newspaper. “In between exhausting bouts of chemotherapy, I carried on in the lab and library, never giving up. I went through 20 gruelling months of fatigue, while continuing to publish papers and give presentations, even when it was painful to walk.”

Earlier this month, Veigas received her PhD from U of T's Institute of Medical Science in a private ceremony, with her 15-year-old daughter, family from India and colleagues nearby. Doctors have warned her that she might not make it to convocation next month.

Her research is already spurring changes in how emergency rooms and hospitals do blood transfusions. Her PhD focused on a blood test that assesses bleeding and clotting disorders. 

Veigas hopes to leave a legacy for her daughter and inspire this year's graduates to achieve their goals. She wants her daughter to look back at this time and remember her mom's advice to “slow down, live a life, believe in yourself, stay strong and achieve what you love to do.” 

Read more of Veigas's story