Emma struggled when she gained weight during breast cancer treatment. She shares five tips that helped her on her weight loss journey.
I felt like I’d let my family down
In September 2016, I noticed that my right breast didn’t feel the same as my left. It had been painful for a few months, but I put it down to menstrual pain and didn’t think much of it.
When I noticed a thickening of the tissue, I took myself to the doctors. She examined me, and put it down to hormones, possibly because of breast feeding and said it was nothing to worry about.
A year later, the thickening had started to become a lump. When I tried to make an appointment with a female doctor, I was told I would have to wait two weeks.
In those short few weeks, the lump began to grow. I could see it under my skin. I began to worry again.
When I went for my appointment I was thrown into a new world of panic. Within the space of a few minutes my doctor was talking about urgent referrals.
I was officially diagnosed with breast cancer on the 20th October. I felt numb. I was 37, with no family history of breast cancer. How could this be happening?
I didn’t cry for myself, I cried for my little boys, my husband and my family. I felt like I’d let them all down in the most devastating way.
I felt out of control
The talk soon turned to treatment. I was told I had a grade three tumour in my right breast. It was an invasive ductal, triple negative cancer. Due to my age and the nature of the tumour it was decided that I would have chemotherapy before surgery and finally a course of radiotherapy. The works!
The thought of chemo completely terrified me. I had a vision of a chemo patient in my head and it was a million miles away from who I was. One of the worst things for me was that it was going to change the way I saw myself when I looked in the mirror.
The feeling of being completely out of control was also a major mental stumbling block. I had no control over what was happening to me anymore.
I saw the old me disappear
I lost my hair just before my second chemotherapy session. It wasn’t long after that that I began to pile on the weight. The combination of lots of steroids and an insatiable appetite meant that I started gaining weight very quickly.
Chemotherapy is hard enough, but to see the old you slowly disappear and be replaced by a bloated, bald and fatigued version of yourself is heartbreaking.
A few years earlier I had lost three stone by following SlimmingWorld. As I watched my appearance change during my treatment I decided that as soon as I finished chemotherapy I would go back to SlimmingWorld.
Lots of my friends and family thought I was crazy, but I felt like I was gaining back a little bit of control.
It seemed a ridiculous thing for me to be worrying about, but the extra weight was having a massive effect on my mental health and self-esteem.
I kept being told that the weight didn’t matter, that there were more important things. They were right. My weight doesn’t define me, but they didn’t understand that I was beginning to lose myself. I only saw cancer when I looked in the mirror.
It’s important to do things in your own time
My last chemotherapy was on the 1st March 2017 and I walked into my SlimmingWorld group with one of my best friends for moral support on the 14th March. I stepped on the scales to discover I had gained 3st and 1lb.
25 weeks later I have lost 2st 9.5lbs. I’m well on my way to my target weight and I’m feeling fantastic. I look in the mirror and there I am, looking right back at me!
I’m not saying that rushing straight into weight loss is the best thing to do, but it felt right for me. It’s so important to do things in your own time, with your oncologist’s advice and most importantly only when it feels right for you.
Emma’s five top tips for losing weight after breast cancer
1. SlimmingWorld has really worked for me, but it’s important find a plan that fits your lifestyle and works for you.
2. Don’t put any pressure on yourself. Your body is still recovering. It has been through a lot and it’s so important to listen to what it needs. I have found that the fatigue and neuropathy really limit what exercise I can do. Some days I can’t even walk down the street, so I don’t! Get out and move when you feel you can, but make sure you listen to your body.
3. Make healthy, low fat meals that your whole family can enjoy. You don’t want to be watching your family eating fish and chips while you’re nibbling on a salad leaf. It’s about incorporating healthy meals and snacks into your everyday life. It’s a lifestyle change, not a diet.
4. Have a lovely selection of healthy quick grab snacks in your fridge/cupboards for those moments when you just want to grab something yummy!
5. Take a before photo, you’ll be amazed at the after results!
Find out more about diet and breast cancer.