My bikini bod cost
As I sat in the doctor’s waiting room, I began to feel nervous. I’d been feeling unwell for nearly a month. ‘Su Hickman to Room Five please,’ cracked the Tannoy. I told the GP my symptoms. I was bloated, tired and felt like I had mild flu all the time.
‘It’s probably just the menopause,’ she told me.
I waited a couple of months to see if things got better.
But by February 2014, I felt worse, so I went back to the GP.
She said the same thing.
Maybe it was the menopause, but I’d just turned 40, wasn’t I too young for that?
As an experienced nurse, my instincts told me something more was going on.
‘I’m worried about you, love,’ my husband Jason, 50, told me.
I went to a different doctor at the practice for a second opinion.
I told her everything that had gone on.
‘I’ll send you for an ultrasound,’ she said.
Just three days later, I had the scan – and, later that day, I was called back in for the results.
‘I’m sorry to tell you that you have stage-2 ovarian cancer,’ the oncologist explained to me. ‘Right,’ I replied. It was all I could manage. To suddenly have the worst-possible diagnosis was a big shock.
But I decided there and then that I’d deal with it as positively as I could.
‘What’s the plan for beating this?’ I asked.
‘We’ll start you on chemo straightaway and then, in a few weeks time, you’ll need to have a radical hysterectomy,’ the oncologist replied.
I barely had any time to process what was happening before I was hooked up to all sorts of machines and pumped with potent chemo.
Then, in May 2014, I had the surgery to remove all my reproductive organs.
When they cut away the tumour, they discovered that it’d grown to the size of a five-month-old foetus.
Another four months of chemo followed the surgery, just to make sure that every last bit of cancer was killed. It took its toll on my body. Not only did I lose all my beautiful long, blonde hair, I also started to pile on weight thanks to the steroids that I had to take as part of the treatment.
I’d always been a trim size-12, weighing around 10st.
By the end of the treatment, I’d piled on about 5st.
I felt disgusting – and I quickly got trapped in the vicious cycle of eating for comfort and then feeling even worse and then eating again.
I did make some half-hearted attempts to diet – but, as I was still feeling weak from battling cancer, I never really stuck to anything.
I stopped going out to socialise and instead would stay in and gorge on greasy takeaways, frozen pizzas and endless bars of chocolate.
Needless to say, the weight continued to pile on.
Six months after the chemo was over, I went for a checkup and was told that everything was looking really good. I was pleased, but I felt so awful about my body that I didn’t feel like celebrating.
Then Jason started talking about planning what we should do to mark our 20th-wedding anniversary. ‘Why don’t we renew our wedding vows?’ he suggested. It was such a sweet idea, but the thought of walking down the aisle in my state was really horrifying. Then, in July 2015, we went away on holiday to Crete. After a really difficult year, it was supposed to have been a chance to unwind and relax. Instead, I spent the whole week in a size-22 swimsuit, feeling fat and so uncomfortable. When I got back home, I stepped onto the scales and then burst into tears when I saw that I weighed almost 20st. That meant that I’d gained a huge 10st in not much more than a year. And, at just 5ft, I was as wide as I was tall! I’d had enough! It was time to take some drastic action… So I did some research into my options and quickly decided that a gastric bypass would be the best option for me. ‘You really don’t need to do this, I love you just as you are,’ Jason told me. ‘I know, but I need to do it for me,’ I told him. I understood his concerns – it was a drastic and permanent solution – but I was determined to go ahead. I tried to get it on the NHS, but I’d need to be 7st heavier than I was to qualify. So, in September 2015, I had the surgery at a cost of £11,000. Just two weeks later, I’d lost 2st. My stomach was so tiny that I could
Weak from battling my illness, I never stuck to a diet
only manage a mouthful of food at a time, so the weight fell off.
Just six months after the gastric bypass, I’d lost 8st.
I was a size-14 and starting to feel like me again.
But there was still one big problem.
Because I’d gained and lost so much weight so quickly, I was left with a huge sagging pouch of excess skin on my belly.
Even though I’d lost loads of weight, I still couldn’t enjoy my new body.
I’d already poured most of our life savings into the gastric bypass, but I’d still got about enough left to fund a £5,000 tummy tuck.
I went ahead with the surgery and had a whole stone of excess skin cut away.
When I woke up from the anaesthetic, I wasn’t in any pain at all.
I leapt out of the hospital bed to look in the mirror.
My flabby, saggy belly was gone!
Now I had a flat, slim tummy just like I’d always wanted.
You literally couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.
Finally, I had the confidence to renew our wedding vows.
So, in August last year, me and Jason flew to the Maldives with our son, Eddie, 18, to have a private ceremony on the beach.
I was wearing a stunning size-10 wedding dress and feeling like a million dollars!
I might not have any savings left, but now I’ve beaten cancer
I’d lost weight but had excess skin Renewing our vows in the Maldives
I’d been comfort eating... Now: my new bikini body!