A South Tyneside mum living with a debilitating condition has fought back from the brink of death to continue her dream.
Natalie McKee was diagnosed with endometriosis at the age of 20. By the time she was 28, she had undergone a full hysterectomy in a bid to control the chronic condition.
It left her confidence battered, stopping her from pursuing a modelling career and her personal goals.
But, it was complications from a perforated bowel which eventually got the 32-year-old back on track after it almost claimed her life.
From that moment, the mum-of-three vowed she would be the best mother she could be and live her life to the fullest.
Despite scarring from various operations making her body-conscious, she started weight training which inspired her to compete in Miss Swimsuit UK.
It doesn’t matter what you have been through, you can overcome it. You have just got to have determination and self belief.Natalie McKee
The contest held last month saw the newly qualified personal trainer gaining a place in the national finals in London in September. She will also take part in BodyPower contest in May.
Miss McKee, from Hebburn, said: “I was already preparing for body power when the Miss Swimsuit competition came up. It’s been like a whirlwind as I only had two weeks to sort sponsors and to prepare for it.
“I have been body-conscious but the weight lifting helps me overcome it, but there are still times when I can get a bit self-conscious due to the scars.
“At Miss Swimsuit, I kept pulling at my bikini bottoms as I have a scar just above my bikini line. I also have one at my navel which I hide with a belly bar, but on the day, I couldn’t find it, that panicked me a little, but then I thought just go out there and give it your all.
“It doesn’t matter what you have been through, you can overcome it. You have just got to have determination and self belief.
“I feel like I’m on top of the world and I’m a lot happier in myself. It feels like I’ve got a purpose. I’m no longer that person who has a condition or that person who had a hysterectomy.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunities I have been given and to the support I’ve been given from my family - especially my mum.”
Natalie was sponsored by South Tyneside Kettlebells; Positive Step Community Transport; Novellus Aesthetics; Saints Newcastle; Star Tanning Official; Ellas Dressing Room; GCS Medical Ltd; Alston and Mouat Electrical Services and Only Organic and Natural Beauty.