WHEN Siwan Owen puts on her Jimmy Choo stilettos, it will be much more than a mere fashion statement – it’s another tick on her list of “must do” activities.
Riding a horse and skiing are also on the list – and the 25-year-old from Trelogan, near Holywell, is looking forward to a new-found freedom to enjoy herself.
For when she discards her crutches, it will mean the end of a gruelling 14 years for Siwan and her family. It began when, at the age of 11, she was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Despite being seriously ill and subsequently having had to have two new hips, Siwan’s ‘can- do’ attitude has proved an inspiration to many.
Now cancer-free, she has been chosen to front a campaign by Cancer Research to highlight the positives that can face cancer sufferers.
She is also using her experience to help in other ways as she works as a chemotherapy nurse at the Countess of Chester Hospital.
She was about to go to Ysgol Glan Clwyd in St Asaph when she was diagnosed with the illness and for over two years she received chemotherapy at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
Even before the ‘chemo’ ended, she started having pains in her legs.
It was diagnosed as Avascular Necrosis, due to the blood supply not reaching her bones after she was confined to a wheelchair for so long.
She soldiered on and, after studying for her A-levels at Ysgol Brynhyfryd in Ruthin, she decided to become a nurse.
“I was inspired by Rhian Pritchard and Eleri Vaughan, the two CLiC nurses I had been seeing over the years,” she said.
After three years Siwan, the daughter of Gareth and Meira Owen, gained a Bachelor of Nursing degree in Birmingham University.
“Everyone said I wouldn’t be able to cope at university and it was hard work – but I was so determined,” she said.
After working for a short while in Shrewsbury, she moved to the Countess of Chester Hospital in 2011 knowing that she would need two hip replacements.
The first operation was carried out at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham in 2012 and was a complete success.
It was such a success that, in July last year, she was able to walk up Snowdon with her boyfriend Duncan Fraser.
“Some people at the top said I looked tired – and they were amazed when I told them why it wasn’t surprising,” she said.
In November, she had a second new hip and is now hoping to return to work in April. But in the meantime, she’s enjoying being pain-free.
Her story has already been featured by Cancer Research on Facebook and Twitter and attracted scores of comments.
“I don’t consider myself inspirational but if it helps one person to realise what can be achieved, then I’m happy.
“It’s been a long process but I’m really proud to be a survivor,” she said.
Cancer Research have also chosen Siwan to take part in an advertising campaign in which she will talk of her experience in a ‘Big Brother chatroom’ environment.
“I’m now looking forward to just walking down the road free of pain. I’ve got a list of things I want to do,” she said.
“I bought a pair of really expensive Jimmy Choos just after Christmas because I haven’t been able to wear high-heels before. I can’t wait to wear them,” she added.