Belfast Telegraph

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Model patient

Sky’s the limit for Ulster model Lucy who survived horrible cancer scare

This is the stunning Ulster woman who has embarked on an exciting modelling career — after fears she might not live to see her next birthday made her determined to follow her lifelong dream.

University of Ulster student Lucy Monaghan spent six months in hospital last year undergoing painful tests and three operations when doctors worried that she might be suffering from bowel cancer.

“It was a horror story, the worst year of my life,” she said.

This summer 22-year-old Lucy became one of two entrants from Northern Ireland selected from 14,000 applicants to compete in the final of the Miss British Isles beauty pageant due to be held next month.

The north Belfast woman revealed how her year of hell has made her determined to fulfil her ambition to become a successful model, despite walking away from the profession three years ago.

“Ever since I was a wee girl I wanted to be a model but I lost my confidence,” she said.

“I applied for Miss Northern Ireland when I was 18 and didn’t get through.

“Then I went to a Dublin agency and the girl said I was too commercial so I gave up.

“When I was in hospital I thought ‘why did I let that get to me? Why didn’t I try other places?’”

Lucy’s nightmare started last June just before she was about to fly to Mexico on holiday.

She was so ill she was hospitalised there and again when she returned home, even spending her 21st birthday as an in-patient.

When her symptoms persisted doctors began to fear the worst.

“They started to think it was bowel cancer so I had to have tests to rule that out,” explained Lucy.

“I thought something was really badly wrong, I knew it wasn’t normal.

“I typed the symptoms into the Internet and it came up bowel cancer.

“I thought ‘it can’t be cancer, I’m only 21’.”

When doctors told Lucy she needed tests to establish if she had cancer, she felt numb.

“You get to the point where you think you don’t care if you live or die because you are in so much pain,” added Lucy.

“I was at an all-time low.”

But when the tests came back clear, Lucy, with the encouragement of her mum, made plans to try again at modelling.

“On my 21st birthday I thought ‘I’m not even going to make it to my 22nd birthday’.

“It’s amazing how much can change in 12 months,” she said.

After almost a year of chronic pain, Lucy is finally on the road to recovery and medics have told her they think she was suffering from severe Irritable Bowel Syndrome which she is controlling through a healthy diet and exercise.

She said: “I promised myself three things if I got better: that I would get driving lessons and a car, go to New York and try modelling again — and I have done all three.”

Lucy recently became Miss Lisburn in the Miss Earth beauty pageant and has been signed to Converse modelling agency.

Now she is hoping a local business will donate £250 to sponsor her during the Miss British Isles final.

“I’m not going to stop because what happened last year could happen all over again so I’m going to keep trying,” she said.

“I have so much determination now. I would like to be a supermodel — isn’t that every girl’s dream?”

Belfast Telegraph

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