“I know I was supposed to start to prepare to die but I decided to give that a pass and live my life instead.”

Laura Nuttall's fight against cancer inspired Peter Kay to return to the stage and now her words have featured on some unusual works of art.

By Fiona Finch
Monday, 30th August 2021, 12:30 pm

A hand written letter by a Lancashire student battling cancer has appeared in a series of memorable new art works.

The unique creations are.on lab coats and are intended to raise awareness of the work of the Institute of Cancer Research, tthe urgent need for research funding and itsongoing determination to discover "smarter and kinder" treatments.

The three lab coats were worn by cancer research scientists and were created for the Institute by textile artist Rosalind Wyatt,

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Laura Nuttall's message on the lab coat

The works of wearable art have been adorned with intricate quotes, letters and illustrations from several children and adults with rare and hard to treat cancers.

Laura Nuttall's letter is entitled Dear Cancer.

Laura, from Barrowford, near Nelson, was diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of 18 and her story inspired Peter Kay to make his first return to the stage in four years to perform two Q and A (Question and Answer) fundraisers at Manchester's Apollo.

A spokesperson for the Institute said: "Rare and hard to treat cancers currently make up one in five of all cancer diagnoses. They typically have limited treatment options and poor outcomes for patients. The unique lab coat artworks were created to raise awareness of the ICR's urgent need for donations to fund new research and treatments into these cancers.The lab coat artworks were unveiled by ICR scientists who wore them in the lab and will now go on permanent display at the ICR, where scientists will pass them every day before putting on their own lab coats and resuming their goal of finishing cancer.

Lab coats decorated by textile artist Rosalind Wyatt

"Among the 200 types of cancer, some are of especially high unmet need either because they are rare or hard to treat – including adult and childhood cancers such as brain, lung, pancreatic cancers and sarcomas."

Laura was diagnosed after being rushed to hospital by her family when she felt unwell. Scans revealed she had lesions on her brain and the first-year university student had to pack up her belongings at King’s College, London, and move back home with her family to begin treatment.

That was two and a half years ago. Laura’s cancer was a stage 4 diffuse glioblastoma multiforme and she was given 12 months to “go away and make memories”. She underwent radiotherapy and chemotherapy and her family then found an innovative immunotherapy treatment in Germany, which sees Laura fly to Cologne every six weeks. As the immunotherapy is not available on the NHS, Laura and her family turned to the generosity of the public, using GoFundMe to raise money.

Laura responded so well to the treatment she was able to return to her university studies - this time in Manchester. However a routine MRI in March revealed regrowth on the site of the original tumour and her family are now appealing for help to pay for further treatment.

Laura Nuttall pictured with mum Nicola after receiving her Duke of Edinburgh Gold award

Laura said: “I know I was supposed to start to prepare to die but I decided to give that a pass and live my life instead.”

Textile artist Rosalind Wyatt used a 'writing with a needle’ technique to meticulously recreate patients’ handwriting using a needle and thread, stitching them onto the lab coats.

Rosalind is renowned for her work including ‘The Stitch Lives of London’ when she stitched a school essay written by Stephen Lawrence onto a running top belonging to the teenager who was murdered in 1993.

Rosalind said: “The plain appearance of a lab coat represents to me the white piece of paper. It’s a blank canvas upon which to tell the stories of real people. People whose lives have been affected or sadly cut short by cancers of unmet need. Being entrusted to tell those stories through needle and thread comes with a huge responsibility, because those words are the voices of the patients... I hope that by hand stitching the words of patients and their families onto the lab coats they can become part of the legacy of the great work that the ICR is doing.”

The lab coats decorated by textile artist Rosalind Wyatt for the Institute of Cancer Research

*Scientists and clinicians at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) work in partnership with The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and the Institute saysits 'bench-to-bedside' approach,means it is able to create and deliver results in a way that other institutions cannot. The two organisations togetehr are rated in the top four centres for cancer research and treatment globally. The Institue provided the evidence that DNA damage is the basic cause of cancer and is a world leader at identifying cancer-related genes and discovering new targeted drugs for personalised cancer treatment. The Institute has charitable status and relies on support from partner organisations, charities and the general public.

*To find out more about cancers of unmet need and/or how to donate to the charity see ICR.ac.uk/Labcoat or here .

* The Lancashire Post is more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription to support our journalism. For unlimited access to Lancashire news and information online, you can subscribe here.

Another message featuring on the lab coats created by textile artist Rosalind Wyatt