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Naema wearing hat outside facing camera

Dedicated support through Naema’s challenging treatment

Every step of Naema’s care at Guy’s Cancer was tailored to her needs, enabling her to push through her gruelling treatment for head and neck cancer and look forward to a bright future.

University student Naema Abubakar was just 23 when she received a shock diagnosis that would affect every aspect of her life. 

While a diagnosis with any cancer can be life-changing, the treatment for head and neck cancer can impact breathing, speaking and eating – which had devastating consequences for Naema’s physical and mental wellbeing. 

Naema was diagnosed with a rare form of head and neck cancer while studying at London South Bank University, after suffering from a persistent blocked nose and heavy nosebleeds for over a year. 

Balancing her studies alongside chemotherapy and radiotherapy was an unimaginable challenge. The brutal side effects resulted in Naema being unable to open her mouth, meaning she couldn’t speak and had to be fed through a tube, while the targeted nature of her treatment required her to have ten teeth removed.  

“I just didn’t think that cancer would affect someone like me. Even though I’d been experiencing problems for over a year, the diagnosis felt like it came out of nowhere.”


Recognising the gruelling nature of Naema’s treatment, the dedicated Guy’s Cancer team provided tailored support at every step. She was put in touch with a specialist dietician and therapist, and introduced to a support group for young people facing cancer, which helped her to feel less alone. 

Every month in the UK, 1,000 people are diagnosed with head and neck cancer – the sixth most common cancer globally. The number is increasing all the time, particularly among younger people like Naema. Despite advances in treatment, many will lose their lives. But your support is helping to change that. 

With the help of generous donations fuelling more moments of progress, Guy’s Head and Neck Cancer Centre was launched in July 2021. The centre aims to speed up diagnosis of head and neck cancer and enhance treatments, minimising the damaging side effects. 

I can’t put into words how much all of the extra support helped me. Nobody made me feel like my condition was incurable and I felt like I was in the safest possible hands.”


For Dr Teresa Guerrero Urbano, Consultant Clinical Oncologist at Guy’s Cancer and one of Naema’s clinicians, fuelling innovation in this area is crucial. “It’s a cancer which few people are aware of, and that receives less funding for research, but it’s also a cancer where investment could make a significant difference, with ripple effects for other cancers too,” says Teresa. 

Thanks to the expertise of the Guy’s Cancer team and the dedicated care that Naema received, she was able to complete her studies and even managed to graduate from university with a first. She is now in remission. 

With your support, the Head and Neck Cancer Centre can continue advancing cancer care and bringing inventive ideas to life, so more people like Naema can survive and thrive.

Naema outside with Dr Teresa Guerrero Urbano, Consultant Clinical Oncologist

Help Guy’s Cancer continue transforming cancer care for people like Naema.