A mom in the UK shed 198 pounds (90 kg) in a desperate bid to spend more time with her children after she was diagnosed with cancer.
Claire Szydelko, 41, ballooned to 330 pounds (150 kg) and a size 28 after years of unhealthy eating.
But when she was told she had incurable bone cancer, Ewings sarcoma, in 2017, the former Pizza Hut manager vowed to tackle her weight and drop to dress size 8 so she could stay alive longer for her kids: Joshua, 24, Luci, 22, Amy, 19, Bethany, 17, and 12-year-old Keeley.
The mom-of-five underwent three months of grueling treatment, including 14 rounds of chemo and 30 rounds of radiotherapy.
But by 2019, Claire had lost more than half her body weight, dropping to 132 pounds (60 kg). Her cancer is still terminal but under control.
Speaking from her home in Huddersfield, West Yorks, Claire said: “After my treatment, I wanted to get as healthy as I could so that I didn’t relapse and can be around for the kids.
“I was determined to lose weight and be healthy to see the kids grow up, get married and have their own babies. I wanted to watch them create their own little families.
“I don’t even want to think about what would have happened if I didn’t decide to lose weight.”
Claire was supported throughout her ordeal by engineer husband Lee, 45. They’ve been together 28 years.
Claire added: “I wanted to lose the weight because I was determined to be around for many more years of being married.
“In 2015, I noticed that I couldn’t walk properly and I had a pain in my leg, one of my feet started to drop and I was seriously ill but it took two years for me to be diagnosed with cancer.
“It’s devastating but it is what it is and I’ve just got to think about being around as long as possible for the kids.”
After losing 100 pounds (45 kg) during the chemo, she put on about 40–50 pounds (18–23 kg), which was “frustrating,” she said. At that time, she was just “focusing on surviving.”
“My last chemo was in 2017 and I started feeling positive again in early 2020,” she added.
Claire said she was a healthy size 8 before she fell pregnant with her first baby when she quickly started piling on the pounds.
She said: “I wasn’t always big. I used to be a normal, healthy, size then when I fell pregnant I took the phrase eating for two way too seriously and then just carried on after I’d given birth.
“I didn’t eat anything healthy, just junk.
“It knocked my confidence, I associated being fat with being ugly and I was embarrassed.
“I would always wear long sleeved black t-shirts and I’d never wear shorts or go in the water on holiday.”
Claire ditched the junk food in favor of healthier options and started working out two times per day in a bid to reach her goal.
“Now, everything I eat is cooked from fresh so I can calorie count,” she said.
“Lee usually cooks because I have mobility issues from the cancer.
“I’m more confident now but I’m still accepting how I look and I’ve got a little bit of excess skin so I’m still a bit insecure about that.
“I felt like I needed to get as healthy as I could so I did some home work outs twice a day, completely changed my diet and stopped snacking.
“It’s difficult at the minute with lockdown because I want to go to the beach and do things I couldn’t before and I can’t wait to see what people think.”
Here are Claire’s diets before and after her weight loss journey:
Nothing for breakfast
Snacks: 3/4 bags of crisps
Lunch: Any kind of fast food or three sandwiches
Snacks: Chocolate, crisps
Dinner: Pie or something from Greggs
Snacks: Chocolate or a cupcake
Nothing for breakfast
Lunch: Omelets, crustless quiche or homemade soup
Dinner: Chicken or fish with veg or a Slimming World low calorie meal