She was diagnosed with cervical cancer just two months after giving birth.
It was a shock hard to bear for new Shepley mum Sarah Walters, who went up five dress sizes as she resorted to comfort eating to help her cope.
But three years after realising that enough was enough, 38-year-old Sarah has lost four stone thanks to a diet plan that has focused heavily on changing her mindset.
Sarah, a school administrator who is now back to being her normal size of 12 to 14 following being diagnosed with the cancer in 2007 when she was 29, said: “I feel amazing. I had always been fit and healthy but had a few issues with weight but I think the problems really began then.
“The diagnosis was a huge shock and I think I became an emotional eater as a sort of comfort.
“I had undergone a loop excision biopsy where they took a bit of my cervix away and then had a cone biopsy and in the end I had to have a radical hysterectomy which meant that I could not have any more children.
“It was really hard because I had always envisaged having two point four children but being a mum I was driven to getting better.
“But having the operation left me feeling that life was too short and I used that as a reason to justify eating what I wanted.
“I went up to a size 16, then 18 and got to a size 22.”
Being busy with her young son, it was not until a few years later that she decided to confront her weight gain.
“By 2012 I’d had two six month and some one year all clear scans.
“But it was two points that made me think my weight gain was getting ridiculous.
“One day I ran up the stairs to get a toy for Freddie and was so out of breath when I reached the top.
“This was really out of place because I’d always played sport, like hockey.
“The other trigger was getting photos back from my brother’s wedding in September of that year.
“I wore a beautiful dress but was horrified that I’d got that big.
“I’d tried some dieting but I’d always put the weight back on so wanted to tackle the root cause.
“I started going to a LighterLife class in Denby Dale and it really made a difference.
“I was so determined to lose the weight I went on the Total plan (which restricts calorie intake to 600 per day) and ate four food packs– two soups and two shakes.”
But it was the therapy that was available at the weekly half hour classes that really helped. She also attended weekly group sessions at LighterLife where counsellor Lisa Grove helped her identify the reasons behind her overeating and gave her what she needed to change her mindset towards food in the future.
“After the weigh ins we split off into small groups,” said Sarah. “They made me feel safe and in them we were given Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
“We didn’t discuss food but looked at the causes as to why we were making the food choices that we did.
“Counselling has been so important because it helped me to realise my bad habits but also stop myself from eating when I didn’t really need to.
“I learned that I may be eating when really I was just thirsty, tired or bored.”
With her new mindset Sarah said she found it easier to keep off the pounds.
“I was still on the food plan at Christmas 2012 and had allowed myself the option to have some protein, a small bit of salmon, and something on Christmas Day,” she said. “But the time came and I just didn’t feel like having it– I was that determined to reach my goal.
“In just four months I lost four stone and went back to a size 12/14 and weighed 11 stone 9lbs.
“I was signed off as being cancer free two years ago and that’s pushed me even more.”
Almost three years later Sarah, who is married to Carl and their son, Freddie, is now nine, is still maintaining her weight.
“Certain other things have helped keep me going such as being a bridesmaid for my friend’s wedding,” Sarah said. “It was an amazing feeling to be slim in all the photos.
“One of the other best moments that helped me was when Freddie came up to me and gave me a hug and said “mummy, I can get my arms all the way around you now”.
“Keeping fit and in good shape is really important to me now because I don’t want to end up having any health problems like my dad who has heart trouble or my mum with diabetes – I want to be healthy for my son when I’m older.
“I take my dogs for three mile walks every day and hope that being active and eating well will help him make the right food choices.”