AFTER four miscarriages Joanne Jackson turned to comfort eating.
But after tipping the scales at 15 stone 4lb she decided she needed help.
And seeking help undoubtedly saved her life – because doctors told the mother-of-two she would never have found the lump on her breast had she not lost weight.
After four miscarriages, being diagnosed with breast cancer, having a mastectomy and being made redundant, Joanne’s positive outlook on life remains in tact.
The 40-year-old, who attends the Huddersfield town centre Slimming World group, explained: “I met my husband Andrew in 2004 and it was in 2005 we decided to try for a baby. I got pregnant straight away but miscarried at nine weeks.
“I was upset but I had to accept what happened and I was determined to try for another baby.
“I fell pregnant again and didn’t tell anyone until I was 12 weeks, that was at Christmas in 2005.
“I went for a scan and I’d miscarried again at nine weeks. I was devastated, I’d done everything I should have, I stopped smoking but it made no difference.
“I turned to the one thing that was constant and that was food.”
Joanne would often eat a loaf of bread a day or get through a box of chocolates with little thought.
Her weight increased and was surprised in May 2006 to discover she was pregnant.
“When I went for the scan I was preparing myself for bad news, I couldn’t believe it when there was a heart beat,” she added.
Throughout her pregnancy with her second son Evan, now four, she continued to eat a lot and she says many of her meals were processed food.
When she gave birth to Evan in February 2007 he weighted a very healthy 10lbs 5oz.
“I breast fed him and the midwife said dark chocolate would be good for him, well I didn’t need telling twice,” she added.
Joanne suffered a dislocated hip during pregnancy and childbirth but continued to comfort eat. She was a dress size 16-18 but would never weigh herself.
In 2008 she and Andrew decided they’d like to add to their family, but she miscarried two more pregnancies in the early stages.
“I told myself I’d never go through it again, I hated my body because it wouldn’t keep a baby – and I still turned to food.”
Doctors told Joanne she had an elevated immune system which meant it treated the foetus like a foreign body.
It was then she decided to do something about her increasing weight. A dress size 22, Joanne joined Slimming World and weighed 15st 4lb. She dropped four and a half stones in her first year and has lost another stone since.
A member of the Thursday class at the National Children’s Centre in Huddersfield, Joanne thought there might be light at the end of the tunnel, but there was more to come.
After being made redundant from the Connexions service in Kirklees earlier this year, she was at home on the sofa when she felt a lump.
“It was pea sized, perfectly round and it moved around my breast,” she explained.
“I went to the doctor and he felt it and referred me to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
“All along the doctors said they didn’t think it would be anything but I had a mammogram, ultrasound and they found calcifications on the inside.
“They said the minority turn out to be cancer, but I had a biopsy anyway.”
Doctors found three types of cancer in Joanne’s left breast – two invasive.
“I went for my results and a breast cancer nurse introduced herself to me, I thought ‘this isn’t going to be good news’ – it was breast cancer and they needed to do a biopsy.
“I had a choice to make, have a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. There was no debating it, I had a mastectomy. I thought there could be every chance it would come back and I didn’t want that.
“They told me that from the breast tissue they could see three kinds of cancer – to me that was validation that I’d made the right decision in having a mastectomy.”
She had the mastectomy on June 29 at Calderdale Royal Hospital. Her other son Connah, 18, was finishing his A-levels at the time. He’s since passed and is going to study chemistry in Nottingham with the aim of being a teacher.
Just over a week after her mastectomy, Joanne took part in her second Race for Life in Huddersfield and walked the course.
She added: “I’m so thankful I’d lost weight, one doctor told me had I not lost weight I wouldn’t have found the lump until much later when it could have been too late to do anything.”
Joining Slimming World has made a massive difference to Joanne’s life.
“I love it, it’s my job now I’m a consultant, and I love seeing other people lose their weight. I also love that it saved my life.”
She still attends classes in Huddersfield but has set up her own at Thornhill Rugby Club, near to where she lives, every Wednesdays at 5.30pm and 7.30pm.
Of her 70 members, they’ve lost a combined total of 200 stones in eight months.
Joanne’s philosophy is to remain positive and use her experience to help others, she added: “My husband’s support has been unwavering, he’s always been supportive and always shown support and love, but I didn’t love myself.
“Life has dealt me these cards, with the miscarriages, the cancer, being overweight and tackling it. I could have lay down and let it take hold of me or I could fight – I’m a fighter.”