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Bernadette is determined to get the cancer message out

GALA: Bernadette Hagans had her right leg amputated to save her life from a rare form of cancer – now the model wants to help others GALA: Bernadette Hagans had her right leg amputated to save her life from a rare form of cancer – now the model wants to help others
By Michael Jackson

A YOUNG cancer survivor is set to host an unforgettable gala event to raise vital funds for charities battling the disease.

In August 2018, 23-year-old Bernadette Hagans was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that had formed in her right leg, which was subsequently amputated at the knee in order to save her life.

Despite her life-changing battle, Bernadette’s fortunes have been turned around after being signed to London-based modelling agency Zebedee Management, which specialises in models with disabilities.

The former St. Dominic’s pupil has also become an ambassador for cancer charity CLIC Sargent and has campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness of the disease.

Next Saturday (September 7), Bernadette will host the ‘Belfast Against Cancer’ event at the Devenish in a bid to raise funds for CLIC Sargent’s Young Lives vs Cancer, Target Ovarian Cancer and the Boom Foundation.

Speaking ahead of the event, Bernadette said: “When you get diagnosed with cancer you don’t really know what to expect. Your life can change so much. For me, I had to come out of work, which meant I didn’t know how I was covering my rent, I didn’t know how I was covering my bills. A lot of time when you get diagnosed you feel really lonely, but different charities give grants to help cover bills and they offer ‘homes from home’ so that families can stay together during treatment.

“The event is about raising money so that it’s there for people who need it for many different reasons. People’s circumstances change and everyone is different, so it means that the money is there for them no matter what. It’s to make sure that people can live a normal life.”

She continued: “One of the things that I tried to focus on from the get-go on my social media was how cancer can affect everybody. When I got diagnosed it made me realise that it does happen to young people. You might have heard about it in school when somebody’s daddy or someone got cancer, but you always used to think ‘It will never happen to me.’ I’ve been trying so hard to raise awareness from the day that I found out I had cancer because cancer happens to young people, it happens to old people, it happens to people at the best time of their life and the worst time of their lives – it doesn’t discriminate.”

As part of her campaign, Bernadette will visit her old school to speak to pupils about early cancer diagnosis and the help that is available.

“We’re going to be going through a lot of the different signs and symptoms of cancer and a lot of the different charities that are available for help and advice – it’s just about being prepared for the worst, just in case,” she said.

“I know from meeting different people who have cancer that everyone handles it so differently. I knew I was okay, and I didn’t avail of much support because I could handle it, but I’ve met other people who need that support. It’s important to make people aware that the support is there. Until I had cancer, I didn’t realise a lot of these charities existed, and I feel like it’s best to know about them beforehand.”

The event at the Devenish will include dinner, a drinks reception, music and more. Tickets cost £50 and are available from the Devenish reception or by emailing,

Looking forward to event at the Devenish, Bernadette added: “I’m really, really excited for it and I hope that everyone has an amazing time.

“Everyone is coming to have an amazing night as well as raising money for charity, so it’s a win-win for everybody. It will be a really memorable experience and you’ll be able to help people too.”

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