We previously caught up with Nicole Beddard in 2016 when she undertook a project which explored the experiences of parents with children who have had retinoblastoma. Having had Rb herself, Nicole was particularly passionate about this project.

With her MSc Health Psychology and Clinical Skills course completed, she is looking to undertake a PhD to develop this research area even further. She gives us an update on her life since we last spoke.

Hello everyone!

Firstly, I want to say a huge thank you for all the support that you have given me through my studies. Without your help and support, I would have not been able to research my passion.

A lot has changed in three years. I worked at Costa Coffee in Stockton High Street throughout my Masters which has greatly increased my confidence and the fringe I used to hide behind is long gone! Soon after I handed in my final project, I was given an opportunity to work at Teesside University where I studied both my BSc and MSc. From then on I have been the dedicated Senior Psychology Technician within their Psychology department.

This job does come with its challenges – I still bump into things and, when I am delivering a seminar session to the students, I turn my head a lot so that I can see everyone. However both I and others in the room adapt so that I get used to my surroundings and I am less ‘clumsy’. The department here are very supportive and they know what I have been through. Sometimes they forget, which I don’t mind, as it means that the prosthetic is doing its job!

Its taken a little while but I’m finally ready to share the discoveries of my research. In short – parental experiences over the years showed that there were difficulties with misdiagnosis and room for improvement with psychological and social support from health care professionals. There is also a strong urgency for greater awareness of Rb – a still relatively unheard of condition amongst the general public and healthcare professionals.

This year, I was given the opportunity to present my findings in July during the Division of Health Psychology in the British Psychological Society Conference (DHP BPS) in Manchester in July. I was very happy that they accepted my research abstract to present, but that soon changed to panic that I had to present something to a crowd of Doctors in Psychology! Public speaking makes me tense up and go into a cold sweat. I still have those feelings when I am in a seminar full of students!

It took me about ten reiterations of the power point presentation before I was happy. The morning of the presentation I felt nervous still. My supervisor came with me so she was fully supportive and sat with me.

After registration I picked up the brochure and it was the first time I had ever had any of my academic studies published. There it was – my abstract. This gave me a sense of achievement and with that came confidence. I delivered my 15 minute presentation to a group of lovely individuals. Everyone was engaged with the research and interested to know what Rb was and what my findings were. Much support came from that room which gave me an overwhelming sense of pride. They could already tell that I was passionate about carrying this onto a PhD level and were asking what my next steps were.

I cannot wait for you to see the published article and I would like to get your feedback. Keep watching this space as I will definitely letting CHECT know as soon as it is out.

There is one thing I know for sure – Rb hasn’t stopped me from achieving my goals.

Please feel free to email me if you have any questions.

Find out more about Nicole’s work and read her article ‘The lived experiences of parents with children who have had retinoblastoma’.