A woman who lost over 50 pounds is saying that her weight loss journey has saved her life after she was able to find a cancerous tumor in her breast.
Andrea Richardson, 49, from Coppull, U.K., decided it was time to start losing weight in July 2019, according to SWNS.
"I have always been overweight since having my first daughter, Elizabeth, in 1997," Richardson told the news agency. "When I had my second daughter, Isabelle, who is now 18, my weight fluctuated up and down - life makes you fluctuate."
Richardson told Fox News in an email: "My clothes were getting tighter and I hadn't even realized I had been buying bigger and bigger clothes until I had a tidy up one day."
Richardson explained that her major turning point was when she was sitting in her car one day, "feeling uncomfortable."
"It actually felt like my stomach was [sitting] on my lap," Richardson said.
After that, Richardson joined U.K.-based weight loss program Slimming World and lost about 57 pounds in just six months, according to SWNS.
In August 2020, Richardson heard about a friend’s cancer scare. She decided to check herself and found a lump in her left breast. After getting tested, doctors informed her that it was stage 1 breast cancer.
"The tumor was really close to my chest wall, so close in fact that it didn’t even get picked up on the mammogram," Richardson told SWNS. "If I hadn’t lost all that weight, I would never have found the tumor as early as I did, and my story could have been very different to the one I am sharing today."
"Caught early, breast cancer treatment has a much higher success rate, so Slimming World has well and truly saved my life," Richardson added.
According to a Swedish study published in Science Daily in 2017, overweight and obese women face a higher risk of not finding breast cancer tumors until the lumps become large. As a result of the study, researchers suggested that women with a high BMI should have more frequent breast cancer screenings.
SWNS reported that after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Richardson underwent two operations to remove the tumor and had intensive radiotherapy treatment. Five months after she found the lump, Richardson had completed her treatment.
"It sounds crazy, but I feel lucky," Richardson told Fox News. "I now have a new lease on life. Life really is fragile and you should treasure every moment, the good and the bad because that's what makes us who we are."
"Having breast cancer has changed me but for the better," she added. "My journey has taught me to put myself first and has made me realize that I am strong and resilient."
Richardson now runs her local Slimming World group and hopes to inspire other members to take their health seriously.
She told Fox that she wants to encourage people to "just go for it" when it comes to getting healthy.
"There's no shame in admitting that you need help in life," Richardson told Fox News. "Joining my local Slimming World group has changed my life forever. I have changed the way I cook my food, I'm in control of what I eat and I feel great."