Bernadette Hagans has become the first amputee to land a place in a Miss World qualifier

A woman who lost her leg to cancer has become the first amputee to land a place in a Miss World qualifier.

As the beauty pageant celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, Bernadette Hagans has won a spot to compete in the final of Miss Northern Ireland.

Bernadette, 25, had her leg amputated just above the knee two and a half years ago after being diagnosed with synovial sarcoma.

The cancer aggressively targets joints and tendons – and amputation was the only way to save her life.

Bernadette, from West Belfast, said of her pageant success: “I’m absolutely thrilled to have got through.

Bernadette had her leg amputated after being diagnosed with synovial sarcoma

“It teaches people that just because someone looks different it doesn’t mean they are any less.

“A person is so much more than how they look.”

Bernadette – who did not take up modelling after her surgery – had felt tired and sick for about a year before her diagnosis.

She found a lump in her right leg which gradually grew bigger, and doctors found a tumour entangled in her nerves and blood vessels.

After surgery she learned to walk on a prosthetic leg after just 10 days in hospital – and even practised in a pair of high heels.

After surgery Bernadette learned to walk on a prosthetic leg after just 10 days in hospital

She said: “There’s actually a button on the side of my prosthetic which adjusts it for wearing heels. It will come in handy in the Miss Northern Ireland final.”

Bernadette, who has always enjoyed running, also got a blade so she could train again – and hopes to compete in the Paralympics.

Since joining model agency Zebedee Management, who specialise in representing people with disabilities, she has already starred in campaigns for Primark, River Island and Asos.

But her biggest boost has come as an ambassador for charities the Cancer Fund for Children, Young Lives vs Cancer (formerly Clic Sargent) and The Boom Foundation, the bone and soft tissue cancer charity.

Bernadette said: “Through charity work I meet a lot of children with cancer and see how they struggle.

The Sunday People’s previous story which told of Bernadette’s bravery

“I hope this will show them that I’m happy after having cancer and that they can be too – and encourage them to stay positive.

“If I got to the Miss World final it would be amazing and show people there is so much more to someone than having a disability.”

The oldest-running international beauty pageant, Miss World began in the UK in 1951. Creator Eric Morley was also the man behind Strictly forerunner Come Dancing.

Miss Northern Ireland takes place in September, with Miss World to be held in Puerto Rico in December.

A Miss Northern Ireland spokeswoman said: “Bernadette impressed the judges with her beauty, intelligence and passion. She’s an inspirational young woman who earned her place regardless of her disability. We’re delighted to help use our platform to promote body positivity.”

Source: mirror.co.uk

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