A healthcare assistant who inexplicably piled on six stone in four months was told by her doctor to give up junk food – when she actually had CANCER.
Bryony Bateman, 27, had always been a healthy ten stone but was baffled when she rapidly gained weight and ballooned to a size 18.
She started feeling lethargic so visited her GP who told her she was “fat, lazy and eating junk” and advised her to overhaul her diet and exercise regime.
Determined Bryony joined a slimming club, obsessively counted calories and avoided carbs – but couldn’t shift a single pound.
After three months of dieting she noticed a banana-shaped lump on the side of her neck, and medics diagnosed a cancerous tumour pressing on her thyroid.
The lump was stopping her body from controlling her metabolism and causing her to pile on the pounds.
Bryony had an operation to remove the lump and is now in remission.
The mum-of-one, from Fishponds, Bristol, said: “I didn’t know what was going on.
“I kept gaining weight but I wasn’t eating any more than I was a few months ago – it just kept on going up and up and up.
“I really wasn’t feeling myself. For months, my doctor had been telling me I was fat, lazy and eating junk.
“As soon as I found out what it was, I just thought ‘get it out of me.’
“Luckily, they caught it early enough.
“But if I hadn’t got the courage up to go and see a doctor again, who know’s what could have happened?
“I am now passionate about raising awareness of thyroid cancer.
Her GP told her she had a BMI of 34 – putting her in the obese category – and despite the support of her partner Neal, 31, she couldn’t shift the weight.
A second visit to the same doctor proved pointless – the GP just told her to keep dieting.
But while on holiday in Marbella in 2012, she spotted a lump after she tied her hair up to keep her cool in the heat.
She went to a new GP who sent her straight to hospital, where doctors ordered a scan and a biopsy, and kept her in for observation while they waited on the results.
It was pressing against her thyroid – the gland which controls metabolism – and preventing it from properly regulating her weight.
“I felt like I’d been pushed aside and made to feel like I was making it up,” she said.
“I knew there was a reason for the rapid weight gain but didn’t know what.”
She endured an eight-and-a-half hour operation to remove the thyroid and lymph nodes, and had to spend a week in hospital.
Bryony and Neal married in 2013 and despite warnings her condition would make it hard to conceive due to hormonal imbalances, they had a daughter Eva, one.
She said: “I had to manage it all in stepping stones. First was getting out of hospital, then I had the wedding to plan. Luckily, that absorbed me.”
She was given the all-clear from cancer in 2013 but not having a thyroid means Bryony is still struggling to return to her former ideal weight.
But the married mum now receives regular advice about weight management from the hospital.
Last year she started working for a private health company which offers end of life care to people who wish to die at home.
The senior palliative carer said her experiences have helped her relate to her patients and their families.
“I struggled to understand how people felt about my cancer to start with,” she said.
“It all makes sense now I look after people also with cancer. I feel like I give something back to all that helped me.”