Cancer spur for Jenna’s big slim down
Breast cancer victim Jenna Evans from Aylsham has lost more than five stone, spurred on by the need to lose weight for reconstructive surgery after a double mastectomy.
But it was her battle with the disease, and the need to lose four stone to have breast reconstruction surgery after a double mastectomy, that transformed the mother-of-three's life.
Jenna from Aylsham has shrunk from 15st 11lb to a trim 9st 7lb and dropped five dress sizes - and has never felt better, saying: 'People who have known me all my life do a double take and some treat me like a stranger.'
The 30-year-old has battled with her weight since her teens, yo-yoing up and down through pregnancies and her wedding.
They problems stemmed back to schoolgirl days and saw her topping 13st at the age of 13, with Jenna explaining: 'I didn't eat badly but my mum had been big as a teenager so I blamed my genes.'
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When she met husband at 19, while working as a security officer at Norwich airport, she was down to 10st. But happy nights in - featuring piled-high Chinese takeaways took their toll and she was 16st when their child was born in 2002.
She had slimmed down to 14st 7lb when the second arrived, and lost a further stone by the time the couple married, but soon piled it back on.
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'I'd eat the kids' leftovers as well as our meals, then snack on crisps and Jaffa cakes and never do any exercise.'
When she was expecting her third child Jenna was 16st and felt 'horribly huge' - but there was a bigger battle around the corner.
Midway through the pregnancy she felt a lump in her right breast - but did not tell dare anyone, fearing being talked into a termination.
She was 'ecstatic' that is was due to be a daughter, after two sons, and said 'I wanted this baby.'
After the birth however she had it checked out. One lump had become three and cancer was confirmed on Boxing Day 2007.
'In January 2008 I had a mastectomy, followed by five months of chemo and radiotherapy which laid me low and meant I lost my hair.
'I didn't have much energy and my weight seemed stuck at 16st, but I resigned myself to being big. I had to wear men's clothes and never went shopping.'
It was when she went to the doctor to talk about breast reconstruction to rebuild her confidence that Jenna was told it was possible - if she lost 4st.
'I had wanted to lose weight and get fit for years, not just for me but for the sake of the children. Here was a real spur to do it.'
Jenna works as a dyslexia assistant at a local school which also hosts Rosemary Conley classes, so she joined, initially weighing in at 15st 1lb in January 2009 - having lost some weight beforehand because she was embarrassed.
'I didn't hide the fact I'd had surgery and everyone was supportive,' added Jenna, who lost 7lb in her first week, then a more steady 1-2lb a week to get down to 10st in six months.
Her old eating routine included skipping breakfast, lunching on pasta and cheese, dining on big portions of 'spag bol' or Chinese takeways, and snacking on crisps, chewy sweets, and biscuits
Now she is more likely to start the day with fruit, lunch on salad and have a tortilla with dry-fried chicken for dinner, with a handful of raisins if she is peckish in between.
'I cut takeaways down to the occasional treat, and realised our portions were huge, so began weighing and measuring everything,' said Jenna, who lost more than enough to enable doctors to give the go-ahead for her second mastectomy and reconstruction, which was done early this year.
Her inspirational story is featured in the latest Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness magazine. And when Jenna - who still goes to her classes, as well as walking, jogging, and doing Wii Fit - went to buy a dress for the photoshoot Jenna was pleasantly surprised to find she needed a size 10 - having once been a 22.
She said that being slim had boosted he confidence and energy, and urged anyone with a similar battle - against weight or health - to 'stay strong and keep smiling.'
Information about Rosemary Conley classes in Norfolk is available by calling Marie Harris on 01603 449736 or visit www.rosemaryconley.com.