A 22 year old woman, Bernadette Hagans, from West Belfast who lost her right leg to an unusual form of cancer says she’s ‘more confident than ever’ after losing the limb.
She was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma in August 2018, and was informed that her right leg would have to be amputated through her knee at the age of 22.
Not long after, Bernadette reached out to a modelling agency Zebedee Management, and two weeks after bagged a contract with retailer Primark, and has since modelled for luxury British footwear and accessories brand Kurt Geiger.
In an interview with The Sunday Mirror, the model explained how she ‘didn’t feel scared’ to have her limb amputated, and feels as though she’s finally ‘found her voice’ after losing her leg.
‘This last year I’ve felt more like myself than I ever did before,’ she said. ‘I used to be shy. I feel more confident now than I ever did with two legs.’
Bernadette began to experience a pain in her leg in 2017, noticing the ache while climbing the stairs up to her top floor flat.
When the pain made it harder to walk and sleep, she visited her GP who initially said the pea-sized lump was nothing to bother about – but as it swelled, Bernadette compelled them to find a diagnosis.
After going through an MRI scan in May, Bernadette held on working 12-hour shifts at her local bookies, without notifying her parents or four brothers she was waiting for the news.
In August 2018, the model was informed that she had synovial sarcoma, a cancer which generates in cells around joints and tendons, and was given the news that her leg would have to be amputated.
After informing her parents, Bernadette underwent the operation, and was in hospital for 10 days after which she went home to learn how to walk again for a further three months.
‘I lost my leg but found my voice’, she said, ‘I know people think it’s unusual that I didn’t feel scared, but I didn’t. I felt very calm. I’ve always been a joker.’
Encouraging her followers to raise money for the charity in one of her videos, she said: ‘I got cancer in my calf and the type of cancer I got was synovial sarcoma and I’m actually part of the TikTok creator fund at the minute.
‘So any money I’m making from this is being donated to CLIC Sargent, which is a charity set up to help young people with cancer, so hopefully people will start trying to donate theirs as well so we can try and raise some money for charity.’