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North Suffolk woman awarded accolade

PUBLISHED: 16:21 27 February 2009 | UPDATED: 22:39 05 July 2010

A YOUNG woman has been awarded an accolade for the dedication to her college diploma despite coping with the devastating news that both her parents have cancer.

A YOUNG woman has been awarded an accolade for the dedication to her college diploma despite coping with the devastating news that both her parents have cancer.

Karen Brown's mum and dad are undergoing chemotherapy for bowel and bladder cancer, while she has faced her own battle of crippling pelvic inflammatory disease.

And although the 25-year-old spends much of her spare time giving support to her mum and dad she has impressed staff at Lowestoft College with her humility and the effort she applies to her holistic therapy course.

Karen, who has been named student of the month, explained: “Both of my parents have got cancer and are undergoing chemo-therapy. We found out about dad last January and two months later about my mum. It was a double blow.

“My dad has got bowel cancer and my mum bladder. The chemotherapy is going as well as it can and they are responding well to treatment.”

Karen is taking a level three diploma in holistic therapy, having already taken a two-year beauty therapy course.

“I still love beauty but I always wanted to learn massage and Indian head massage. I looked at the prospectus and this seemed like a really good course.

“I went for a job in Ireland at a health and beauty spa and I turned the job down as I received a letter saying I had got into this course.”

And not one for rest on her laurels, Karen has a five-year plan for her career, which eventually will lead to opening her own salon with her sister, who is a hairdresser.

“I'm going to come back to college next year and do my beauty therapy level three as I want to be the best therapist I can be and learn how to do pregnancy massages and that kind of thing.”

She said she was looking forward to being able to give her mum some pampering after she has finished her chemotherapy.

“Because of her cancer she can't have any treatment until 21 weeks after her chemotherapy. I've been giving her little arm messages but I can't do anything holistic.”

She said she had told her mum about winning Student of the Month and she was over the moon, but she must wait to tell her father, who is over in Ireland for two weeks.

Karen, who lives in Beccles, also paid tribute to her husband Paul, who helped her overcome her own illness, which stopped her from working and nearly prevented her from attending college.

“If it wasn't for him I wouldn't be here at college. Whenever I'm low he picks me up, he's amazing.

“I am just shocked to have won. I thought after being told I was nominated it would be the last I would hear, but it was lovely and overwhelming, I wasn't expecting to win it. I jumped up and down.”

Tutor Zoe Emmerson said she was pleased they were able to reward Karen's efforts to succeed.

“I admire Karen's humility because when she struggles she comes and talks to me and asks for help. She's always got a smile and she's always very bright. She helps others out even when she feels like rubbish and she always finds a solution to a problem. It's just really nice to acknowledge her.”

Karen will be given vouchers for either a beauty treatment or meal in the college restaurant.

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