JUST over 12 months ago, doctors told Vicki Hopwood she had just four years to live.
The mum-of-two was vastly overweight – tipping the scales at 21st 6lbs and a dress size 30.
A problem with her spine had meant she was unable to exercise, and she was suffering a condition called bronchiectasis – where the airways of the lungs become abnormally widened, leading to a build-up of excess mucus. She had to take a cocktail of drugs, including steroids and morphine, which compounded her weight problem.
One doctor was so concerned for her health, he suggested she undergo drastic weight loss surgery, but with Vicki’s other complications, a general anaesthetic would not have been an option.
She could barely walk, and would rarely ever go out.
Vicki, from Cleveleys, said: “The specialist told me I really needed to lose weight. He said he knew it was difficult, because I couldn’t exercise.
“I couldn’t have weight loss surgery and I didn’t want to – I knew it was going to be difficult. In fact, one doctor told me it would be impossible.
“I decided to join Weight Watchers, and I was determined.
“It was scary to hear I only had four years to live. I felt I was too young to lose my life.
“I’d done diets in the past on my own, and never stuck to them. I would lose weight, but end up putting it all back on.”
Vicki has not looked back since she started going to Weight Watchers sessions on Thursday nights with Karen Eykyn, at the United Reformed Church, Rossall Road, Cleveleys.
She has lost 8st3lbs, dropping 10 dress sizes, and wants to lose a further 2.5st.
The 53-year-old said: “It has changed my life completely.
“After I lost the first two stone, it meant I could exercise.
“I can’t walk very far because of my spinal problems, but I started swimming. I couldn’t swim far at first, but have built it up and now swim six days a week for an hour. I enjoy it and feel great.
“I feel like I have got my life back, and my husband is delighted and tells people he has a new wife.
“I no longer have to use oxygen during the day, and hopefully soon will no longer have to use it at night.
“Weight Watchers is great, because it’s not a diet – it’s healthy eating.
“You can still have the occasional treat, or go out for dinner. It’s easy to follow.
“My health has improved, I still have morphine for my spine, but a lot less than before.
“One of the doctors wrote in my notes it was a minor miracle.
“I never used to go out much, but I do now. I can go shopping and pick up clothes in high street shops, not just have to stick to Evans. And my daughter, who lives in Spain, is getting married next year.
“I am helping organise things – and I would never have been able to do that before. I’ll be able to enjoy the day itself so much more.
“It’s really boosted my confidence and I feel like a different person.”