Cancer beating Great Yarmouth weight loss woman inspired by mum

A RECOVERING breast cancer patient told this week how she was inspired to win her battle against the disease by her dying mother.

Great Yarmouth woman Sheryl-anne Hodgins was able to reflect on the progress she has made celebrating her 48th birthday on Tuesday.

Now in remission, Sheryl-anne had to cope with battling cancer as her mum Jeanne succumbed to the illness two years ago.

Before she passed away Jeanne encouraged her daughter to lose weight to give her the best possible chance of making a recovery.

Diagnosed with a tumour in her breast three years ago, mum of two Sheryl-anne had to endure a gruelling course of treatment. She has undergone five operations, including reconstructive breast surgery, countless treatments, chemotherapy and several blood transfusions.

An epileptic, she suffered seizures under anaesthetic and saw her weight increase to just under 17 stone as a result of being treated with a cocktail of drugs.

Sheryl-anne was being cared for by her mum when Jeanne learnt the devastating news that she had terminal bowel cancer, in January 2009.

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As the 70-year-old lay on her death bed six months later, she made Sheryl-anne promise she would overcome her escalating weight problem.

“I had pushed mum in a wheelchair around the Cancer Research Race for Life course just weeks before she died,” recalled Sheryl-anne. “When I looked at a photo of us, I realised how fat I had become.

“Mum’s attitude was that it was better that she went, I still had my life ahead of me and should do everything I could to hang on to it.

“She was my prime motivation, her encouragement was the most empowering thing imaginable and gave me a sense of responsibility.

“I could not control the cancer, but I could control my weight. The more I could lose the more effective my recovery would be. It was twice as hard for me; I had been bed-ridden for six months and took so many steroids and tablets that made my weight balloon.”

Treated at James Paget University Hospital and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, medical staff told Sheryl-anne she was “morbidly obese.”

The stress of coping with her mum’s death resulted in Sheryl-anne losing a stone before she joined Gorleston Slimming World group.

In the two years since then she has shed another three and half stone and shrunk five dress sizes.

Last year she returned to work managing Avery Lodge residential home on Southtown Road and began a health and social science degree at Great Yarmouth College.

Doctors finally gave her the longed-for news that the cancer was in remission after Christmas.

Sheryl-anne had been supported throughout her ordeal by husband Karl, 48, sons Robyn, 24, and Jack, 20 and adopted daughter Shasta.

Currently expecting her second child, Shasta, 30, joined Sheryl-anne at Gorleston Slimming World, losing more than two stone.

Their achievements inspired Karl to follow their example and he was voted the group’s man of the year after shedding three stone. Robyyn’s wife Susie has also recently started attending classes.

Sheryl-anne and Karl have won the couple of the year award and she has twice been named woman of the year.

Currently tipping the scales at 12st 3lb, she is aiming to lose another two stone and has joined a swing dancing group in Gorleston. “Before, I was a compulsive grazer and lived on bread and cheese but now I have proper nutritional meals,” said Sheryl-anne.

“I walked into the group feeling fat and useless with no confidence but now I have got my self esteem back with lots of energy. The future is rainbow bright, I am exceptionally positive and happy.”

Slimming World consultant Cira McDonald said: “Sheryl-anne is a truly amazing lady. She really inspires us all – it is great to see her enjoying her life to the full. I am so proud of her.

l For information about Slimming World groups in Gorleston and Hopton call Cira on 07757 742828.