A Carshalton cancer survivor who briefly “died” during a surgery is starting a new charity which aims to help empower cancer patients and improve their wellbeing.

Kara Lyons was just 18 when she was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer after first being told by doctors she had a “really deep” urine infection.

An eight-inch tumour was discovered in her body – by which time had spread to her bladder and lungs, while only “millimetres away” from her heart.

Given a 30 percent chance of survival, she said goodbye to her family and friends in the event her upcoming operation was unsuccessful.

While cancer cells were being removed from her organs during the surgery, her bladder was punctured and she “flatlined” for two minutes on the operating table.

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Kara Lyons celebrating 10 years in remission

Ms Lyons, now 31, said: “It's been 13 years but, for me, it took a long time get over it all. The mental side more so.

“The thing I found the hardest was the fact I lost my identity. Losing your hair, as a female - especially as an 18-year-old female - was one of the hardest things.

“When I did lose my hair, I made the choice to take it myself rather than let cancer take it. What my mum and a friend of mine did was get some hairdresser's scissors and just cut my hair into loads of different styles in the bathroom and took photos.

“It actually made it really fun and really empowering.”

The news of her diagnosis was devastating and had a wide-reaching impact on both herself and her family.

Looking back, she's shocked at how much she has been through.

Ms Lyons added: “I genuinely thought I was going to die. My little sister, who is seven years younger than me, spent her 12th birthday in hospital because she thought I was going to die.

“I had my last operation in August 2005, and I went back to school so I could get my A Levels, and I blocked it all out.

“It wasn't until halfway through that school year that I just broke down completely, I couldn't cope with anything.”

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Photo: Kara Lyons

But she credits both her family and friends for helping her through the difficult times, and now wants to help others who may be going through a similar experience.

Her charity Spotlight on Cancer Courage aims to improve the mental wellbeing of cancer patients by celebrating their courage in the face of adversity.

People will be offered one of four packages - all photoshoots - which have varying themes. One involves funny and non-serious images, while another is meant to remember those who are terminally ill.

This can be for anyone who has been diagnosed at any point in their lifetime, and it's expected the charity will be live before the end of the year.

Ms Lyons said: “I think the main thing for me is that it's really important to focus on the mental wellbeing of cancer patients, and also there can be little moments of positivity.

“Even I could just make one person's experience of cancer have the slightest bit of positivity in it then it would mean the world to me.”

You can find out more about Spotlight on Cancer Courage here.

To see the GoFundMe page, click here.