A woman who lost her leg to a rare cancer says she is “more confident than ever” after the loss of the limb.
Bernadette Hagans, 24, from West Belfast, was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma in August 2018 and was told to have her right leg amputated through her knee at the age of 22.
Shortly afterwards, Bernadette contacted modeling agency Zebedee Management, and two weeks later signed a contract with retailer Primark, and has since modeled for luxury British shoe and accessories brand Kurt Geiger.
Speaking to The Sunday Mirror, the model said she was “not afraid” to have her limb amputated, and that she feels she has finally “found her voice” after losing her leg.
Bernadette Hagans, 24, from West Belfast, lost her leg to rare cancer – but says she’s ‘more confident than ever’ after limb loss
The model signed a contract with retailer Primark and has since served as a model for the luxury British shoe and accessories brand Kurt Geiger
“Over the past year, I’ve felt more like myself than ever before,” she said. ‘I used to be shy. I now feel more confident than ever with two legs. ‘
Bernadette developed a pain in her leg in 2017 and noticed the pain while climbing the stairs to her top floor flat.
As the pain made it more difficult to walk and sleep, she visited her primary care physician, who originally said the pea-sized lump was nothing to worry about – but as it got bigger, Bernadette urged them to make a diagnosis.
After undergoing an MRI scan in May, Bernadette worked a 12-hour shift at her local bookies, without telling her parents or four brothers that she was waiting for the news.
Bernadette, pictured before her amputation, was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma in August 2018 and was told that her right leg would be amputated by her knee at the age of 22.
Bernadette’s modeling career began after she noticed a photo of a model with Down syndrome and left a comment to which Zebedee Management responded
In August 2018, the model was told she had synovial sarcoma, a cancer that develops in cells around joints and tendons, and got the news that her leg would have to be amputated.
After telling her parents the news, Bernadette underwent surgery and was in the hospital for 10 days before returning home to learn to walk again for three months.
Bernadette’s modeling career began after she noticed a photo of a model with Down syndrome and left a comment, to which Zebedee Management responded.
Since then, she has started her partnership with Kurt Geiger as part of their People Empowered Campaign and has become an ambassador for the charity CLIC Sargent, raising money for the Cancer Fund for Children and the Voom Foundation.
She has since started her collaboration with Kurt Geiger as part of their People Empowered Campaign
Bernadette now shares videos of her amputation on TikTok, amasses a massive 73k followers and 1.3 million likes and donates all profits from her viral clips to CLIC Sargent
“I lost my leg but found my voice,” she said, “I know people find it unusual that I wasn’t scared, but I didn’t. I felt very calm. I’ve always been a joker. ‘
Bernadette now shares videos about her amputation on TikTok and collects a huge one 73,000 followers and 1.3 million likes, donating all profits from her viral clips to CLIC Sargent.
Urgently her followers to raise money for 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 am currently part of the TikTok makers fund.
‘So all the money I make on this is donated to CLIC Sargent, a charity set up to help young people with cancer, so hopefully people will try to donate theirs too so we can try to raise some money for charity. ‘
What is Synovial Sarcoma?
Synovial sarcoma is a cancer that can originate from different types of soft tissue, such as muscles or ligaments.
It is often found in the arm, leg or foot and near joints such as the wrist or ankle. It can also form in soft tissues in the lungs or abdomen. Synovial sarcoma can also be called malignant synovioma.
A third of patients with synovial sarcoma are diagnosed under the age of 30. It is slightly more common in men.
The treatment for synovial sarcoma depends on whether it has spread. Since synovial sarcoma can grow for a while before it is found, it is more likely to spread to other parts of the body.
Surgery is the first choice of treatment for synovial sarcomas. When all of the tumor has been removed and there are no signs of cancer anywhere else in the body, there is a better chance of survival.
The success of the surgery depends on the size of the tumor and its location in the body.
Source: National Cancer Institute