A STUDENT who needed a hip replacement aged just 20 is determined to reach new heights.

Cherina Darrell, who lives in Colchester, used to be a huge netball fan as a child.

But when 25-year-old Cherina - who moved to Colchester from Bermuda six years ago - began playing the sport, her coach noticed a problem with her foot.

In fact, it was more serious than anticipated - she was diagnosed with a rare joint condition called Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis when she was 10.

The condition, which occurs in teenagers who are still growing, means the ball of the thigh bone slips off the neck of the bone in a backwards direction.

She spent weeks in hospital, going through four different surgeries to pin her hip in the right place. She even spent three months in a half body cast.

The 25-year-old, now a project worker at Essex University, said: “The doctor said it was just a sprained ligament. I was doing a 1,500 metre run for sports day and heard a snap in my hip.”

She said: “While most kids my age were worried about friends and fashion, I was worried about how to get a bath without getting my cast wet and finding pants to fit over my fixator.

“I was left with permanent damage to my back and my hip.”


Cherina, who moved to the UK to study law and politics, said her mum Cheryl and auntie Diane made sure she still had a quality of life.

She added: “My mum got a wider car as I couldn’t bend my legs and had to sit sideways in the back. She and my auntie were both pivotal role models for me.” Aged 20, and half way through her degree, she was able to have the hip replacement she needed.

She had hoped the treatment would allow her to play netball again, but when she discovered that wouldn’t be the reality, she sunk into depression.

Cherina said: “I pretended I was alright, but as I got older I just started to get really angry. I still can’t run, I thought after my hip replacement my life would go back to normal.”

But in the last few years she has started to think positively, thanks to mental health charity Mind.

At university, Cherina was vice president for welfare. She visited Mind to speak about mental health and realised she too needed support.


With the help of family and the charity, she overcame depression and graduated with a first class degree last year. To show her appreciation for Mind, she is climbing the Sri Padaya mountain in Sri Lanka in as fundraising bid.

She said: “An able-bodied person can reach the top of Sri Padaya in three hours, but because of my physical restrictions, it could take me six hours but I am absolutely determined to do it.”

Her climb will start on March 14. About 80 per cent of funds will go to Mind and 20 per cent will go towards gear for her trip.

She will be documenting the trip on her blog, at cherinahonestly.com.

To donate visit www.gofundme.com/cherina-climbs-sri-padaya.