A YORK student is celebrating completing university and starting a new job -10 years after undergoing lifesaving surgery that helped her beat cancer.

Lilli Broadbent, 23, feared she would need to have her leg amputated as part of her treatment for osteosarcoma (bone cancer) but the surgeon was able to save her leg and her life.

Lilli, who has just completed a degree with a 2:1 in Educational Studies at York St John University, was diagnosed with cancer in March 2008 when she was just 13.

After noticing her knee was swollen Lilli just put it down to an injury from Tae Kwon Do, but when the pain didn’t go away and she started to lose a lot of weight her parents took her to the GP.

She was referred to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle for an x-ray, which revealed a tumour on her knee. A biopsy at the Freeman Hospital then confirmed Lilli and her parents’ fears, that she had cancer and worse still that she may lose her leg.

Lilli started a gruelling 11 weeks of chemotherapy, losing so much weight she didn’t recognise herself.

Lilli, from Darlington, said: “When I went to my GP cancer wasn’t something that even crossed my mind so it was a massive shock to me and my family.”

In June the same year she underwent a nine hour operation to remove the tumour. Thankfully the surgeon was able to save Lilli’s leg and inserted a titanium rod from top to bottom and replaced most of her knee. After a period of recovery Lilli completed her chemotherapy and was given the all clear in December 2008.

Lilli, who lived in York while studying, said: “It’s thanks to research and treatment I’m still here today and that my leg was saved. Sadly some of the friends that I met on the ward didn’t make it so I’m determined to make the most of my life for them and their families too.”

Lilli will graduate in November and start a new job as a visitor desk assistant at Durham Cathedral. She added: “My aim is to work in history and heritage in a learning environment so this first role at the cathedral is fantastic experience for me.”

“I’m incredibly lucky to have been given these opportunities thanks to research.”

Lilli is now backing Cancer Research UK’s ‘Right Now’ campaign, which has TV ads showing patients undergoing cancer treatment, followed by current home video showing how research has helped them get back to enjoying life.