Marine biology student survives cancer and becomes a fashion icon for Debenhams


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A sports-mad Swansea University student who fought an eight-month battle with cancer is set to model in a Christmas fashion show in aid of the cancer support charity that helped her feel “like a girl” again.

Robyn Lock will grace the fashion stage in Debenhams’ Beauty Gala in the Quadrant Shopping Centre on Thursday December 3 to raise funds for the international Look Good Feel Better charity which delivers free makeovers and practical support for women struggling with the side effects of cancer treatment.

The event, which runs from 4pm to 8pm, will mark the end of a traumatic year for the 22-year-old student who was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma cancer in October last year and was forced her to take a year’s break from her studies while she underwent chemotherapy.

Now stronger and fitter than ever – and captain of the university’s rugby team – the student has her eye firmly on the future and is looking forward to gracing the catwalk as an icon for other women undergoing cancer treatment.

“I am nervous about the fashion show but Look Good Feel Better helped me so much during treatment, they made me feel like a girl again so it’s an absolute honour to be walking in the show to raise awareness and money for such a selfless wonderful charity,” said Robyn, who is in the third year of a Marine Biology degree.

“I was declared cancer free on May 5 this year so since then I’ve been focusing on my health, my rugby, my uni work, my new short do and my new outlook on life.

“To be honest I quite like having ‘normal’ problems now like deadlines, it’s far easier to cope with than fighting something you can’t control.”

The student, originally from Swindon but now living in Swansea, was first diagnosed in October 2014 after feeling unwell from July through to September. During this time she had lost two-and-a-half stone, suffered a collapsed lung and was so weak she could barely stand up.

After an initial scan to see how far the cancer had spread, doctors delivered the devastating news that it was in her neck, collar bones, left lung, armpits and spleen. The cancer was graded stage four and she began treatment immediately, which consisted of chemotherapy every other Thursday for six months.

“I had treatment at Oxford Churchill Hospital in the haematology out-patients ward,” she said.

“It consisted of intravenous treatment via a PICC line (a tube that ran through my vein in my arm and into my heart, this was a permanent tube that I had to keep in the whole time) which has now been replaced with a tattoo symbolising strength and re-growth.

“Chemo would generally take six hours and I would leave feeling very sick, tired and exhausted. Luckily I had my mum there the whole time. She moved back from New Zealand to look after me during my treatment. She was my rock.”

The student is relishing the opportunity of closing the chapter on a tough year by having fun and enjoying feeling good at Thursday’s festive beauty gala.

“Whatever life throws at you catch it and work it!” she said.

The fashion extravaganza, which takes place instore, will feature beauty demonstrations from a host of top brand names including Benefit, Estée Lauder, Lancome and Clinique. There will also be a fashion/lingerie show at 5.45pm to give customers some tips on festive style.

The event has been organised by Debenhams in conjunction with Robyn’s close friend and fellow Swansea University student, Lowri Evans, who previously organised a successful student fashion show at the flagship store in the Quadrant Shopping Centre.

Ian Kirkpatrick, Manager of the Quadrant Shopping Cenre, said: “Robyn has been incredibly brave and has had terrific support from her friends and from everyone at Debenhams.

“I’m sure the generosity of the people of Swansea will ensure the event will be a huge success and that it will be a very positive and entertaining evening.”

French student Lowri, 22, has recently undertaken a six-month internship at Paris Vogue in support of her ambitious plans to work in the fashion industry when she graduates and is looking forward to using her experience to create a memorable event at Debenhams.

“This event is going to be very relaxed. It’s quite informal,” she said.

“The idea of the event is about pampering and starting the festive season in style. We’re trying to get people to experiment more. Customers will have mulled wine and mince pies.

“Losing your hair can be a huge confidence factor. The beauty gala is all about supporting women as they go through their cancer treatment.

“It’s a charity close to my heart. Robyn has been absolutely amazing. She has come back fitter than ever, she’s even captain of the rugby team. She went through all this last year and came back really fit and healthy.

“I’m really excited to be involved. It will be a really nice evening and it’ll be great for members of the public to come down and enjoy a Christmassy evening.”

Lowri, who is originally from Welshpool but now lives in Bryn Road, Swansea, has been working alongside Debenhams store manager James Loxdale for the event.

After coping with the hectic Paris Fashion Week while undertaking her internship for Vogue online earlier this year, an instore fashion show didn’t seem a tall order and Lowri took on responsibility for sourcing the 12 models, the DJ and assisting the choreography.

“Debenhams is very encouraging of the students,” she said.

“We discussed how we could get good attendance to the event and I pitched the idea of a fashion show with makeup, hair and lingerie. He loved the idea.

“I definitely want to work in the fashion industry when I finish so this is all good experience.”

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