Down Syndrome Teen Beats Cancer, Relearns Walking, and Becomes a Fashion Model

An 18-year-old model with Down syndrome relearned how to walk and talk and made her modeling debut on the catwalk in 2019 after overcoming a harrowing three-year battle with cancer.

Kirsty Harrower, of Sheffield, England, walked at the Liverpool Fashion week show nine months after her doctors gave her the all clear in 2019. Kirsty, who was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 15, spent three years fighting back against cancer before finally getting her shot to join her younger sister, Melissa, in the modeling world.

As of now, the teen has walked the ramps in fashion shows in London, Sheffield, Liverpool, and Manchester. The fashion shows have been doing wonders for helping Kirsty regain her self-esteem.

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Kirsty Harrower, 18, on the catwalk during her first-ever runway walk at Liverpool Fashion week on Oct. 8, 2019. (Caters News)

Kirsty’s mom and dad, who are both doctors, said that this isn’t the first medical battle their daughter has been through. Since the moment Kirsty was born, she’s been fighting a warrior’s game to survive. “We have been through quite a lot,” said mom Janet.

Janet said that they knew before Kirsty was born that she had Down syndrome, but when their daughter was born, they found out that she had a blocked gut and she needed surgery “within hours of her being born.”

“At nine weeks, she had a hole in her heart repaired. Then, she was diagnosed with leukemia in August 2016, just a week after her 15th birthday,” Janet said.

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Kirsty Harrower, 18, with her mother, Janet. (Caters News)

It was during Kirsty’s cancer treatments that the family introduced Melissa, then aged 12, to modeling as a way to help give her something to focus on while her sister was ill.

But before long, the childrenswear brand Melissa was modeling for, Be Unique Be You, told her parents that they should consider Kirsty try out modeling to help raise awareness for Down syndrome and to inspire diversity in the fashion community. At first, though, Kirsty was too sick to actually take them up on the offer.

“She lost her hair and became really jaundiced,” Janet said, adding that within weeks of being diagnosed, Kirsty was in a wheelchair.

“[S]he just lost all the power in her legs from the chemo and couldn’t walk for three years. She had a lot of down days and lost so much confidence,” Janet said.

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Kirsty with her mother, Janet, and father, Neil. (Caters News)

Kirsty’s condition was going further downhill, as she gradually forgot how to walk and talk.

“She just stopped talking,” Janet said. “She would be quiet for weeks because she just forgot how to talk, everything she had going on was so overwhelming.”

Rendered wheelchair-bound and silent, Kirsty had to relearn how to walk and talk once her cancer treatments had finished up.

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Kirsty Harrower with her sister, Melissa (R). (Caters News)

Now, though, Kirsty has taken more than just her first steps since being given the all clear. She’s also taken her strides up and down the catwalk, regaining both her self-confidence and finding a bit of extra joy.

“Watching her getting so excited and beaming with happiness on the catwalk was the most amazing experience,” said Janet. “I felt so helpless as her mom when she was ill, there was nothing I could do to make her better, but she is so strong and has fought so hard to get back to the confident young woman she is.”

“I’m so proud of her and she is proud of herself,” Janet said.

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Kirsty Harrower (Caters News)

Kirsty is now very active on social media; her Twitter handle showcases the glimpses from this budding model’s daily life.

The United Kingdom-based Down’s Syndrome Association mentioned in an interview with Kirsty that she recently appeared in their “We Decide” video for World Down Syndrome Day 2020.

“I want to go to college next,” Kirsty told the association. “I want to work in a hotel reception and to be a model, actor, singer, and dancer.”

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