Weight loss didn’t just change our lives – it may have saved them

Slimming World members Anna Thomason and Alison Gardiner, who lost more than ten stone between them,

Slimming World members Anna Thomason and Alison Gardiner, who lost more than ten stone between them, both had cancer scares after discovering lumps. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

For slimmers Anna Thomason and Alison Gardiner, losing weight proved to be about much more than dropping dress sizes.

Anna Thomason discovered a lump after losing weight. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Anna Thomason discovered a lump after losing weight. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Both believe crucial discoveries about their health would have otherwise been missed.

Mrs Thomason found a lump on her thigh while applying tanning lotion for a holiday – something she would never have done before losing two stone since 2015 at her local Slimming World group.

The high school receptionist, 42, from Martlesham Heath, said: “I’d always been embarrassed to wear short clothing but I had this amazing confidence.

“I was putting cream on my legs to get a base tan and found a bump, which I thought was just a bruise until I found it still there after the holiday.”

Anna Thomason, pictured with her daughter, Sophie, before losing two stones with Slimming World. Pic

Anna Thomason, pictured with her daughter, Sophie, before losing two stones with Slimming World. Picture: SCOTT THOMASON - Credit: Scott Thomason


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Doctors thought it could be fatty tissue, but a scan was followed by an immediate referral to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, where only surgery would detect if the rare schwannoma nerve tissue tumour was cancerous.

“I was very lucky that it was a sensory nerve and not a motor nerve, and I’ve been left with just a scar and a funny sensation in some parts of my leg,” she added.

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“If I hadn’t lost the weight, I wouldn’t have found it.”

Mrs Thomason chose to start her own Slimming World group at the same time as Miss Gardiner, who was on the way to losing 8st 7lb in two-and-a-half years when she found a swollen lymph node.

Alison Gardiner lost eight and a half stone. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Alison Gardiner lost eight and a half stone. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

The 43-year-old civil servant, of Tuddenham St Mary, who was a ‘yo-yo dieter’ until a diagnosis of borderline hypertension following a regular asthma checkup, said: “I’d lost fat tissue in my breast and was doing a routine check when I found a lump,” she said.

“It was the worst experience of my life but I was quickly assured it would be monitored and eventually disappear.

“For years, I was told my health risks were higher, but the further I got from the conversation, the less resolve I had to change.

“Finding the lump made it suddenly very real.

Alison Gardiner before and after her dramatic weight loss; at her brother's weding in 2011, and at t

Alison Gardiner before and after her dramatic weight loss; at her brother's weding in 2011, and at ther cousin's wedding this March. Picture: ALISON GARDINER - Credit: Alison Gardiner

“Losing weight has changed my outlook on life. If I can help just one other person achieve the same, I’d consider it a success.”

Mrs Thomason’s two Slimming World sessions are on Mondays at Trimley Sports and Social Club, while Miss Gardiner’s sessions begin this Thursday, from 7.30pm, at Copleston Sixth Form Centre.

For more details, search for SlimmingWorldTrimleywithAnna or IpswichCoplestonSW on Facebook.

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