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Carolyn’s Story – Yourlifeline

Carolyn’s Story

Carolyn’s Story

My name is Carolyn and I am 31 years old. I have been a member of Lifeline by Tammy for just over two years.

My journey started in 2013 with the words “You have cancer.”

All my life, I have been a big girl. I have always loved food and I have always loved to eat. Judging by old photos, my unhealthy relationship with food started very young – if it was a “thing” back then, I would have fallen into the category of childhood obesity.

My mom was a single mom, working three jobs, supporting four children. Health was not a priority. Keeping us fed and alive was the priority. We had a nanny named Julia, we loved her and her lunch time speciality of oil drowned potato chips on white bread, alternating with two minute noodles which were usually served on two slices of white bread too. My mom would make dinner when she got home, sitting in the kitchen with her while she cooked was our time together.

She would make spaghetti bolognaise, pasta bakes, mac ‘n cheese and then her famous “Chicken ala Mamma” – chicken pieces, baked in a bottle of sugary fruit juice, served on a hearty portion of pasta rice. Cocopops, strawberry pops and chocolate chip peanut butter sandwiches were the go-to in-between meals snack. I don’t remember eating much fruit. Veggies were pushed aside more often than not. There were no limits set to how much we could eat. My brothers didn’t seem to have as much of an issue with food as I did, they would busy themselves with after school activities, they were active, they played soccer and rugby. When we were all at home, we would argue terribly. I would often come home from school and retreat to my room with a loaf of bread and a tub of butter. Weekend quality time with my mom involved one afternoon of any movie and selection of munchies of my choice. This was how we bonded. Chocolates, chips, St Elmo’s pizza and a 2L Sparletta. This is most likely where my binging habits were formed. Food, and eating was what made me happiest.

“Nothing is impossible, even the words say “I’m Possible.

I hated high school. I was teased terribly. The boys would call me thunder thighs and the girls nicknamed me “fatty”. I always hid my feelings well; I’d like to think no one knew how badly their nasty words affected me. My shirts were XXL and my jeans a snug size 40. The day I finished Matric I was 1,63m tall weighing in at over 105kg. I had to have my Matric Dance dress specially made, because nothing in the shops would fit me. I was fat. And of course, the more they made fun of me – the more I would find comfort with my favourite friend – food. When food stopped working, I found comfort in alcohol, drugs and self-mutilation. I frequently tried to end my life. All these cries for attention and help. I was in and out of day clinics, therapists and social workers – yet no one ever managed to pin point the root of my sadness – I was incredibly overweight, and undervalued by myself. I had no self-worth, no self-esteem and no self-control. My depression and anxiety must have developed around this time, only to be diagnosed many years later. It did unfortunately get worse before it got better.

My twenties were fun – in hindsight, they were an absolute mess – but I enjoyed my life then. I was a party girl. I worked as a waitress, surviving on tips that I’d use for drinking and drugging every night – digging into fast food takeout in the early hours of the mornings, keeping myself alive and “functional” with Redbull, Monster Energy drink and pies during the day. I’d often eat leftovers off customer’s plates while working, partially because I was saving my money for drink and partially because I just wanted to eat. Disease was never a thought for me – looking back now, I must have had an angel of my shoulder that I didn’t end up seriously ill. Drugs, booze and boys who weren’t interested in anything more than I was very willing to give them – it saddens me to now understand that all my poor choices were a direct result of so desperately just wanting to be accepted, to be loved and acknowledged.

My twenties were fun – in hindsight, they were an absolute mess – but I enjoyed my life then. I was a party girl. I worked as a waitress, surviving on tips that I’d use for drinking and drugging every night – digging into fast food takeout in the early hours of the mornings, keeping myself alive and “functional” with Redbull, Monster Energy drink and pies during the day. I’d often eat leftovers off customer’s plates while working, partially because I was saving my money for drink and partially because I just wanted to eat. Disease was never a thought for me – looking back now, I must have had an angel of my shoulder that I didn’t end up seriously ill. Drugs, booze and boys who weren’t interested in anything more than I was very willing to give them – it saddens me to now understand that all my poor choices were a direct result of so desperately just wanting to be accepted, to be loved and acknowledged.

In my mid-twenties, in an attempt to save myself from myself, I changed career and moved to Holland to au pair. I was there for 6 months. I learned how to ride a bicycle, to cook – I learned how fun being active can be, I lost a bit of weight and I loved it. My time ended, I came home and went straight back to my old ways, gaining everything I’d lost plus extra. I went straight back to my comfort – drink, drugs and food.

Then came my turning point –

 

May 11th 2013, following two weeks in hospital for abdominal pain and quite a simple procedure to remove an unrelated lump, I found myself in the emergency room. I’d had a strange looking lump removed a few days before, my wound didn’t heal and went septic. 

I was 25 years old, weighing approximately 115kg, and I was dying.

 

I still have flashbacks to this night, not as often anymore, but they hit me at strange times. 

I remember lying in the hospital bed, heart monitors singing, being completely ignored by medical staff and in the kind of pain that is indescribable. I remember turning to my mom and asking her whether I was going to die. I remember the look in her eyes.

 

About a week later I revisited the hospital for my results – their diagnosis – gluten intolerance (to explain the abdominal pain) and the lump was a very rare form of cancer, a low grade tumour with a high re-occurrence and metastatic potential. 

 

This basically means – I have a type of cancer which could come back, spread, and possibly kill me at any time. I was in and out of the hospital for about a year. It hit me around this time that my situation has escalated to move than just being overweight – I was extremely unhealthy. 

 

So what did I do? I went back to what made me feel safe – food, booze and drugs. I would visit my oncologist, snack on a pie while I waited and then stop off at KFC on the way home.

I remember waking up one morning and realizing what I was doing. I was literally wasting a second chance of life that had been given to me. So I stopped everything – I left the hospitality scene, I started drinking green tea and doing yoga. I started Googling the health benefits of everything I ate. I created an obsession with being healthy, and then I got bored and went straight back to my old ways. This continued until my lump made its first comeback in May 2016 – more hospital time – an allergic reaction to the penicillin they had given me. My body was too weak to fight for itself after all the years and years of abuse. And that’s when I really knew – if I didn’t change my ways, I would die.

So, I sought the help of a homeopath. He prescribed all sorts of herbs and natural remedies. We both knew, it was essential for me to improve my eating and activity levels. He told me to cut out carbs, sugar and dairy as these are the things cancer thrives off. In turn, I told him that he was insane and left feeling incredibly hopeless. I was directed a health and fitness forum on Facebook a few days later, their diet was designed to not include the things I had been told to give up. I gave it a go, and within 30 days – I had lost 10kg. I felt great – but my BMI was still too high, and my body image too low, so I ate and ate and put it all back on. It was here, when I felt my very most defeated – that I found Lifeline by Tammy Du Plessis.

I was a silent observer of Lifeline by Tammy for around 6 months. I watched the page, I watched the transformations, I watched Tammy herself – who at that time was undergoing her own transformation. It was inspiring and I was so very inspired. I watched the ladies on the group lose tons of weight, but what I noticed more was they seemed to gain joy. Tammy advertised a program designed to help you find your worth. It was this that drew me to Lifeline, because I knew that as long as I felt worthless, I would never succeed at anything.

On the 11th of May 2017, I was given my third chance at life – I won Lifeline’s birthday competition and one month of free coaching with Tammy. Looking at the timeline, I know I was destined to be with this program.

Today I have been with Lifeline by Tammy Du Plessis for two years and two months.

To say Lifeline has changed my life would be an understatement. Lifeline has given me a new meaning of life. Lifeline has given me a sustainable way of not only eating, but of being. Lifeline has given me a purpose. My journey with Lifeline has been filled with so many highlights – two of the biggest were being asked to model for the 16 Weeks to a New You exercise plan, to more recently being asked to be the stand in Kickstart coach.

In the two years that I have been with Lifeline, I have lost nearly 40kg and I have kept most of it off. I reached my lowest lifetime weight of 65kg. Thanks to my obsessive personality, it has not all been smooth sailing – but because Tammy knows me, cares for me and watches me – she knows my signs of when I am struggling or going too far with my exercise and eating. My relationship now with my body and with food remains a work in progress, every day is work, but Tammy has been there for me through it all – I have never felt alone, I have never felt unsupported – I feel more loved by a community of strangers than I have ever felt in my life. Lifeline has been my lifeline, I have made friends who have become family and I feel I found exactly what I was looking for – I found self-worth, self-esteem and I found a better version of me than I knew could be possible.

“Nothing is impossible, even the words say “I’m Possible.”