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Sara tells how cancer turned her early teenage years upside down; Sara Owen was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of 12 after her arm and face went numb on a skiing trip. Kelly Williams reports.

Byline: Kelly Williams

ATEENAGER who was diagnosed with a brain tumour after her arm and face went numb during a skiing trip at the age of 12 has shared her inspirational story in a cancer charity's ad campaign.

Sara Owen underwent operations and gruelling treatment in America during her school years.

But yet the 18-year-old former Rydal Penrhos pupil, from Colwyn Bay, still managed to smash her A-levels and is now studying medicine at university after scoring one of the highest marks in the country on her advanced biology exam.

Sara has now become the face of CLIC Sargent's wristband campaign in the run-up to World Cancer Day after the children's charity supported her through her ordeal.

She said: "I was 12 and on a skiing holiday when my left arm and half my face went numb. When we got home, it happened again.

"I ran downstairs to my parents crying thinking what if something's wrong with me? The doctor said: 'It's cancer. You need surgery.

"To be honest... I was finding it very difficult to understand just why my world had been turned upside down in just a few short months.

"The hardest thing was seeing my dad break down crying because of me.

"I went into surgery and they took the tumour out but they discovered it's an ependymoma (a tumour that arises from a tissue of the central nervous system).

"The doctors recommended a new kind of radiotherapy in Florida and after three months, I finished 33 rounds of proton beam therapy.

"My CLIC Sargent nurse helped me a lot in the months after treatment and slowly things started to get back to normal."

A few years later, Sara discovered her tumour had come back and made the decision to undergo further surgery and treatment in England.

During this difficult time, Sara continued to receive support from her CLIC Sargent nurse, Rhian and a CLIC Sargent social worker who provided practical, emotional and financial support and in January, 2018, she got to ring the end of treatment bell at Clatterbridge hospital. Despite her adversity, the former prefect rounded off a hugely successful 12-year stint at Rydal Penrhos with an exceptional set of A-level results, securing A* marks in biology, chemistry and mathematics, in addition to an A at AS level in physics. This included an overall mark of 585 out of a possible 600 in her mathematics papers, and she is now at the prestigious King's College in London.

If that was not enough, Sara recently attended a lavish awards ceremony to collect her prize after securing one of the highest marks in the country during the Salters-Nuffield advanced biology examination. She added: "I had decided that I wanted, if possible, to become a doctor in order to research and perhaps develop treatments to result in better outcomes for children with cancers so it was important I got high enough grades to help me enter the highly competitive medical school application process.

"...I still have fatigue which I manage as best I can by resting and pacing myself, but that can be a challenge when trying to live a normal university life.

"However, it is refreshing to no longer be known in school as the 'kid who had a brain tumour.' She continued: "After every clear scan I cry with relief. Sometimes I'm scared it will all be taken away. But for now, I'm happy."

Commenting on featuring in the CLIC Sargent campaign, Sara said: " It's important to me to give something back to CLIC Sargent because they kept me sane and made such a difference to me and my family.

"Making a small donation, wearing your band and telling others about it is such an easy way to make sure that their nurses and social workers are there to help other families like mine."

| To find out more about World Cancer Day and to get your own Band Against Cancer wristband go to also available in J D Wetherspoon pubs, Morrisons stores and select H Samuel and Ernest Jones stores.


<B Sara with her father on a skiing trip shortly before being diagnosed with cancer

<B Sara aced her A-levels <B The treatment led to Sara's hair falling out

<B Sara Owen underwent operations and gruelling treatment in America. Now she is sharing her story in the CLIC Sargent wristband campaign for World Cancer Day
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 15, 2019
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