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NEWS > Old Girl of the Year Award > Old Girl of the Year Winner 2022 - Belinda Kingston

Old Girl of the Year Winner 2022 - Belinda Kingston

Belinda has gone on to win awards for her ground-breaking cancer research and thanks Prior's Field for the encouragement
22 Jan 2023
Written by Belinda Kingston
United Kingdom
Old Girl of the Year Award
Belinda Kingston (OG 1997-2002)
Belinda Kingston (OG 1997-2002)

I am delighted and honoured to be awarded the Prior’s Field Old Girl of the Year Award 2022. Unbeknownst to me, my mother and sisters nominated me for the work I undertook during my PhD. My mother, however, has been encouraging me to get back in touch with Prior’s Field for a while to talk to pupils with dyslexia, which I also have, in case I can offer any encouragement. This successful nomination has achieved her goal!

Let me explain a little about where life has taken me since leaving Prior’s Field, and how I came to be nominated. After completing an undergraduate medical degree at Bristol University I became a Junior Doctor, specialising in Medical Oncology. I am currently in training to become a consultant in this speciality, and during my training I was able to take three years out of doctoring on the front line to complete a PhD at the Institute of Cancer Research in London. I was fortunate to have an excellent project and a supervisor with incredibly high standards who pushed me hard, throughout.

Thankfully the hard work paid off; through my PhD I was able to discover some fascinating findings (to oncologists, at least), which I have subsequently presented on an international stage. Firstly, I discovered that for women with advanced breast cancer, a simple blood test can be used instead of an invasive biopsy to tell us about women’s cancer. I demonstrated that this simple blood test, or ‘liquid biopsy’, can be used to decide which treatment women might subsequently respond to. Information from this liquid biopsy can also tell us lots about breast cancer in general – what drives it, and how treatment resistance develops, for example. Secondly, I discovered and characterised a novel mechanism of treatment resistance which occurs in patients on a commonly used breast cancer therapy. I was able to demonstrate that alternative treatments for these patients may prevent the resistance occurring, potentially meaning that patients would respond to treatment for longer. We hope that knowledge of this resistance mechanism and the ways to avoid it will keep women alive for longer. I was delighted to be awarded an American Society of Clinical Oncology Conquer Cancer Merit Award for this finding.

My time at Prior’s Field was undoubtedly important in shaping my medical career. I was diagnosed with dyslexia at primary school, and struggled with reading in particular; I dare say few people held high ambitions for me in an academic sense. However, Prior’s Field, and two teachers in particular, Mrs Cook and Mrs Ingram, provided crucial encouragement, showing confidence in my abilities. I was told to “pull my socks up”, which was the proverbial boot up the backside I required. My grades steadily improved throughout my time at Prior’s Field, I grew in confidence, and by the time I left, my sights were firmly set on a career in medicine.

It is an honour to be recognised with this Old Girl of the Year Award. For one, it is a great opportunity to say thank you to the school – and to Mrs Cook and Mrs Ingram – for showing faith in me and giving me much-needed encouragement. Moreover, this award is also an acknowledgement that dyslexia need not hold anyone back; while it presents challenges, these can be overcome with the right application, ambition and support.

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