Sylvia Denton has worked in cancer nursing for more than 20 years. Senior clinical nurse specialist in breast care at Barts and The London NHS Trust, she is also president of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). She received an OBE in 1996 for services to nursing.
"Looking after patients who had lung cancer in a chest unit in the late 1970s, I realised what cancer nursing could do for patients. At the time, cancer nursing [as a profession] was still young but evolving.
"I moved into health visiting but came into contact with the illness again. Working with children whose parents had cancer, I saw the impact it has not only on the people who have it, but on their families too. So, two years later, I decided to specialise in cancer care using the skills I'd gathered from acute care, general and community nursing.
"In 1980, a job came up at King's College Hospital, London, to develop the role of a specialist nurse for women with breast cancer. It was a research post funded by the Cancer Research Campaign - and that's how I got started. I've since had many roles and have continued to research as well as practise.
"Job satisfaction comes from my strong belief that cancer patients need, and deserve, informed nursing and professional excellence.
"Educational programmes for nurses wishing to specialise in this area are now widely available and continue to be developed. It's a very rich area to work in."
Marvelle Brown, 44, is a Macmillan senior lecturer in haematology at Thames Valley University. She developed the first professionally recognised course in haematology nursing in England and Wales.
"Haematology covers both malignant and non-malignant illnesses, a diversity that makes nursing this group of patients very satisfying."
Candy Cooley, 45, is head of cancer and palliative care at the University of Central England, Birmingham, and chair of the RCN's Cancer Nursing Society. She has worked in cancer education since 1990, developing a specialist module within her university's curriculum.
"Ensuring nurses are trained to have the skills to care for someone with cancer has become my ambition."
Jessica Corner, 42, is professor of cancer and palliative care at Southampton University's School of Nursing and Midwifery. She is a trustee of Macmillan Cancer Relief, a member of the Department of Health's cancer nursing advisory group, and helped pioneer a new approach to managing breathlessness in advanced lung cancer.
"I'm motivated by a deep unease about how our healthcare system is unsatisfactory and often impersonal."
Anwen Davies, 49, is a chemotherapy nurse specialist for the Swansea and South West Wales Cancer Centre, based at the Singleton Hospital in Swansea. Chair of the Welsh Associated Chemotherapy Specialist Nurse Group, she was awarded an MBE this year for services to patients with cancer and to the NHS in Wales.
"Cancer nursing is …