Staying slim and healthy

Staying slim and healthy

After gaining weight during recovery from cancer, Mandy Purell, 54, from Norwich lost 2st* and discovered secrets that could safeguard her future health.

“I was diagnosed with grade three, aggressive breast cancer in February 2009. It was a devastating time. I'd lost my dad to cancer the previous year, so the worst thing was telling my mum I was ill. I had to put on a brave face for her and my daughters. My husband Tony had absolute faith I was going to be OK, which gave me the confidence to face each day.

“As far as symptoms were concerned, there wasn't a lump on my breast; I spotted some dimpled and puckered skin when I leant forward in the shower. Fortunately, I knew that could be a sign of breast cancer, and I went to see my doctor straight away. I had a lumpectomy followed by three weeks of radiotherapy. I didn't feel ill so I would come home from hospital and do the housework or walk the dog. Emotionally, though, it was really tough. I was sick with worry about the cancer and still grieving for my dad, so I stopped exercising and began to comfort eat. When my mum died in December 2012 I really lost my way. Before I was ill, I was a size 12-14. By the summer of 2013, I was a size 16.

“I was terrified that my weight gain would cause a recurrence of my cancer. The type of breast cancer I had was hormone-receptive, which meant that it fed off the oestrogen in my body. Oestrogen levels can be increased by being overweight. On top of this, I was taking medication that I'd been told can cause weight gain in some people. I remember sitting at a barbecue one day in July 2013, feeling self-conscious about my size and frightened about my health. My daughter Janda had joined Slimming World and lost more than a stone. So, when she told me how easy it was, I knew I had to give it a go.

Joining Slimming World...

“Having breast cancer showed me I needed to look after myself – and Slimming World has helped me do that. Breakfast is sugar-free muesli (a Healthy Extra) with fat-free yogurt and fruit, I'll cook a mushroom omelette for lunch and eat it with a big green salad, and dinner might be sea bass with mountains of steamed veg. By the end of my first month, I'd dropped half a stone.

Every pound I lost took away some of my fear and brought the sunshine back into my life.

“I was open about my breast cancer at group because it's such a welcoming and supportive place to be. We learn from each other while having loads of fun, and my Consultant Debbie is my inspiration. Nothing feels better than losing weight and knowing that you're looking after yourself. And it's not just about cancer; you can also reduce your risk of other weight-related illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease.

“Today I feel fit, healthy and energetic. When I got my five-year all clear from cancer, my doctor said my positivity shone throughout my treatment and recovery. A lot of that is down to Slimming World. It's not about depriving yourself of food; it's a whole new healthy lifestyle. I've never felt better!“

6 ways to reduce your risk

More than four in 10 cancers diagnosed each year in the UK could be prevented by changes in lifestyle, according to Cancer Research UK.

  1. Give up smoking. Smoking is the biggest preventable cause of cancer in the world and accounts for a quarter of cancer deaths in the UK.
  2. Keep a healthy body weight. One in 20 cancers in the UK are thought to be linked to being overweight or obese.
  3. Eat a healthy, balanced diet. One that's high in fibre, fruit and vegetables and low in red and processed meat and salt can reduce your cancer risk.
  4. Cut back on alcohol. Alcohol can increase your risk of seven types of cancer; the less you drink, the lower your chances of developing the disease.
  5. Take regular exercise. Being active for just 2½ hours per week could help to prevent 3,000 cancer cases each year in the UK.
  6. Stay safe in the sun. Spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm when the sun is strongest, cover up and use at least SPF15 sunscreen..


*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.

*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose

or become an online member

You'll find more delicious recipe and menu ideas at your local group, along with all the help you need to get started and reach your target weight.