In memory of Louise Cadman

This is not a formal obituary, just a few reflections on an outstanding research nurse, loyal colleague and compassionate person who sadly died from melanoma many years before she was due to retire. We have compiled thoughts from a few of those who knew Louise. Please do add your own reflections in the comments box. We will add the longer ones to this posting and compile them all as a memorial book for her family.

We hope that this posting will provide inspiration to young nurses considering a career in research. It is no exaggeration to say that when the world celebrates the eradication of cervical cancer as a public health problem, Louise Cadman should be named in the credits of those who made it possible.

Louise asked that any donations be sent to St Christopher’s Hospice or to a charity of your choice. The just giving page can be found here.

Peter Sasieni writes:

Louise Cadman joined what was then Dr Cuzick’s Mathematics, Statistics and Epidemiology Laboratory at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in the mid-90s. She was recruited by Dr Anne Szarewski and very soon the two of them seemed almost inseparable. Louise was Dr Watson to Anne’s Sherlock Holmes. Over the years they, together with Janet Austin and Lesley Ashdown-Barr, led some of the most influential clinical studies of the human papillomavirus (HPV) contributing both to the widespread use of HPV testing in cervical screening and to the adoption of an HPV vaccination programme in the UK. Tragically, Anne died unexpectedly at the age of 53 in 2013. It was Louise who called me to break the awful news and she and I who jointly wrote a tribute for the Cancer Research UK blog.

After Anne’s death, Louise continued to work in Jack Cuzick’s Centre for Cancer Prevention within the Wolfson Institute for Cancer Prevention at Queen Mary University of London. As a nurse colposcopist, Louise took the clinical lead of many of the studies that Anne had started and went on to design new studies often with Mr Tony Hollingworth who had joined the group. Louise diversified too, working closely with Attila Lorincz’s molecular epidemiology laboratory and with Jo Waller and others on the psychosocial aspects of cervical screening.   Most recently, Louise had become an expert in self-sampling for cervical screening and was working with Jo Waller and Dr Jill Zelin of the “My Body Back” clinic on a grant proposal to study attitudes to self-sampling in women who’ve experienced sexual violence. A topic about which she wrote a blog for Jo’s Cervical cancer Trust a couple of years back.

Louise was a loyal and dedicated research assistant to Dr Anne Szarewski. She combined her considerable clinical skills as a nurse and colposcopist with a natural empathy and care for her patients which I imagine made her an exceptional nurse. Her organisational skills, knowledge of the health service and insight into patients’ perspectives made her an invaluable member of the research team. Her kindness and good humour made her a wonderful colleague. We will miss her enormously.

Anita Lim writes:

When I think of Louise, three words come quickly to mind: kind, generous and funny. I’ve never known a colleague who cared more for others than she did, so much so that being in her presence often felt like being in a warm embrace with a hot cup of tea in hand. When I re-joined the Wolfson in 2012 daunted by the prospect of setting up my first clinical trial in self-sampling, it was Louise who spent hours talking me through everything I needed to know. Over the years, Louise continued to generously share her knowledge and time. In the process, she proved herself to be whip-smart with a deep compassion for patients.

Having an office across the hall to hers also had social benefits. Louise’s sense of humour always landed just on the right side of “smartarse”. When we moved universities one of the things that I missed was the long talks we often had after hours when everyone else had gone home.

Ensuring that others were okay was a priority to Louise, even in helping others deal with her illness.  The last time I saw Louise she had just received the news that her cancer was terminal. Sensing that we were saddened as she was telling us her doctors said she wouldn’t make it to Christmas, she had jokingly started singing the lyrics to Wham! Last Christmas. The joke had its desired intent and we laughed, but I was struck by how she continued to selflessly put others needs in front of her own in order to bring them comfort. Louise truly lived in service to others.

Jo Waller writes:

I met Louise and Anne in about 2000 when we worked together with the late Jane Wardle, Kirsten McCaffery and Sue Forrest on a series of studies of attitudes towards HPV testing and self-sampling, much of it based at the Margaret Pyke Centre where Anne and Louise ran screening and colposcopy clinics. We continued collaborating over the years, spending time together at conferences and most recently writing a grant, which Louise continued to contribute to even when she knew her time was very limited. She was utterly committed to maximising the benefits of cervical screening, especially for groups for whom standard screening is difficult, and she was always keen to understand more about behavioural science and qualitative research.

Louise was also exceptionally warm and kind and full of fun. She always asked after my children and shared stories of her beloved niece and nephew twins. She was hugely supportive when Jane Wardle died, drawing on her own experiences of losing Anne a few years before, offering a listening ear and very sound advice. I remember being at a conference in Berlin with a horrible cold and it was Louise who took me back to the hotel when I was flagging at dinner. There was always lots of laughter in meetings with her, and even in her last email to me earlier in the year, she made light of her situation, commenting in the irony of developing skin cancer having spent her life ‘pale and out of the sun’ and finding humour in the government advice to stand near the window for some fresh air while shielding from Coronavirus (‘like a dog on a car journey’). I will miss her clinical expertise, her wisdom, and her sense of fun.

David Mesher writes:

From my first moments at the Wolfson Institute, I remember Louise as an incredibly kind and generous person. She’d always be the first person I went to if I was feeling lost or overwhelmed with work and would never fail to make me feel better by the end of the conversation, either with practical solutions or just a friendly face to put everything into perspective.

Louise spent much of her life looking out for others which was clear in both her personal life and working life. It was clear in the projects she was most passionate about, that Louise was always looking for ways to help those who really needed it. I remember working on a study with Louise in self-sampling among women who didn’t attend for cervical screening. Louise was always incredibly thoughtful in trying to understand the reasons behind women not attending, how she could adapt her approach to ensure women she examined felt as comfortable as possible, and how this learning could be passed onto others. It was always clear that Louise strived to ensure women could receive the best possible care available.

I will certainly miss Louise’s friendly welcome and warm smile.

Max Parkin writes:

Sharing an office does not come easily to senior (=elderly) staff, but I was very lucky in my two successive office mates in Wolfson. Louise was the second, and we were together for a couple of years, after Anne passed away. We could both concentrate, or relax talk and joke, without seemingly any collusion as to how and when. It’s a real gift to make others feel at home and at ease. Those couple of years will remain a very happy memory of my time at Wolfson.

Henry Kitchener writes:

Louise was an extraordinarily engaging person, and someone who radiated warmth and a sense of fun. She and Anne were quite a pair; very good professionally and thoroughly mischievous.

She must have been great just to have around your group.

Rob Music writes:

Louise played such a vital and important role and as you know worked closely with Jo’s on our work and information around sexual violence.  She will be terribly missed by so many.

Other colleagues have commented:

‘Louise was very supportive to me in 2014 when my mother died (as she was to everyone) – a really likeable lady and, as everyone knows, a very capable and compassionate research nurse.

I remember Tony Hollingworth presenting some more clinical slides in a talk once and Louise calling out “parental controls” to protect the squeamish. She was always good fun. I found a podcast recently of her talking on cervical cancer last year to the BBC World Service Health Check program.’

‘Such sad news, she will be greatly missed!  Louise was such a kind and lovely colleague, we used to chat quite often when I was still in the Wolfson, socially and I often asked her clinical questions, which she answered very patiently!

She will be greatly missed.’

4 Comments

  1. I met Louise when I started my PhD with Peter Sasieni, then based at Imperial Cancer Research Fund. I always thought of her as an outstanding HPV and cervical cancer expert, so intelligent, knowledgeable, and yet humble about it. I could ask anything on the topic to her and she would answer thoroughly or look and contact somebody that could answer the question. She always set an example in everything she did.

    Louise was not only an excellent researcher, but she was also very generous, kind, ready to listen to and understand others, and of course a laugh. She always had the right word to support you, whether on a celebration or in a sad moment. I will always remember her with a smile.

  2. Hi, some of you may not be aware that Louise’s influence extended north of the border. Those of us who are involved in the West of Scotland version of the My Body Back project were very sad to hear of Louise’s passing.

    Louise, as one of the core team of MBB in London was an insprirational figure. She visited Glasgow on more than one occasion with her MBB colleagues, and was always available to offer advice and support from distance.

    Our project continues today and we wanted to let her colleagues and family know that there are a large number of women in Scotland who are also benefiting from Louise’s legacy with a trauma informed cervical screening service built around their needs. Best wishes and condolences to her friends and family.

  3. Louise was an wonderful, inspirational colleague who touched so many lives. She was very much loved by everyone who knew her at My Body Back. Awesome, awe inspiring, kind, funny and brave.
    I loved her to bits and will miss her soooo much.

  4. Louise was not only an inspirational colleague, but a very dear friend during my time working as a Research Nurse with Imperial College at Queen Charlotte’s.

    Her devotion to her work and her family was amazing and I was always in awe of how she managed to fit everything in!

    She always had a smile on her face, a kind word for everyone and a wicked sense of humour! She will be missed by so many…

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