Lynn tells her weight loss success story to the Manchester Evening News!
When her GP warned her she could die following gastric bypass surgery, Lynn replied: "If I don't have the operation, I'll die anyway."
At nearly 30st, hospital clerk Lynn was desperate. The 39-year-old from Stockport recalls the hopeless battle with the bulge that resulted in her being a size 36.
"I was overweight throughout my teens. My mum sent me to slimming classes as a child but nothing worked. I'd lose some weight then pile it on again. That was the pattern whatever diet I followed and, believe me, I've tried them all, WeightWatchers, Slimming World, slimming pills... I've been battling against my weight for more than 20 years. Chocolate and sweets were my downfall. I'd just eat for the sake of eating."
Lynn's partner, Paul, whom she met five years ago, accepted her for who she was. "Paul didn't try to persuade me to lose weight and he wasn't keen on me having the surgery but he supported me when he realised I just had to go through with it.
"My quality of life was deteriorating day by day. I couldn't even hold a conversation without getting breathless. And people think it's all your fault. They insult you in the street. Sometimes I'd answer them back but mostly I'd just get upset.
"I fought tooth and nail to get help. At first my doctor thought I should be able to do it myself, but eventually she referred me to a dietitian who advised me to eat five pieces of fruit and vegetables a day. Eventually I was assessed and deemed a suitable candidate for gastric bypass surgery.
"My GP said, 'Do you realise you could die from this surgery? And I replied, 'Am I not dying slowly now?'"
Gastric bypass surgery, commonly known as stomach stapling, is the most radical weight loss procedure - bands and balloons are less risky (see the comparision between a band and a bypass).
Gastric bypasses are available on the NHS but there are long waiting lists. Privately the bypass operation costs between £10,000 and £12,000. Lynn's primary care trust in Stockport has teamed up with weight loss company Healthier Weight in a unique scheme whereby the NHS pays for the surgery if the obese patient can demonstrate a commitment to losing weight.
Lynn had to lose 10 per cent of her body weight in 10 weeks by following Healthier Weight's 'Weight To Go' diet, devised by obesity expert, Dr David Ashton. The 850 to 1,000 calorie a day diet costs £61 a week - and candidates have to pay for that, too. Dr Ashton insists that obesity is a chronic condition, not the result of being 'feckless and weak-willed'.
He said: "I have worked with obese patients for 25 years and the idea that this is a self-inflicted condition is outmoded and incorrect. Obese people have a disorder of appetite regulation. Complex hormones are involved in this which we do not yet fully understand but there is no doubt that these people are not feckless, weak-willed or stupid. They don't need to be blamed, they need to be helped.
"Furthermore, although public money is being spent on this surgery the savings in the long term will be much greater. Statistics show that 80 per cent of type 2 diabetics are cured after a gastric bypass. It is far more cost effective to pay now than for the next 30 years."
Lynn was one of a group of nine who had the surgery after successfully achieving the weight loss target. She lost nearly 4st in 10 weeks. "We all clicked and became friends for life. The diet was a shock to the system at first but when I got on the scales at the end of the first week and saw I'd lost 13lbs, I thought it was great!"
The nine operations were performed at the private Alexandra Hospital in Cheadle over one weekend last September. To date the group has lost some 800lbs between them and a second group of 13 patients is about to have the surgery.
Four months on, Lynn still winces as she remembers waking up after the operation: "I felt like I'd been to hell and back. But after a few hours I started to feel better and the following day I was walking. I tell people I'd do it all over again because it has made such a dramatic difference to my life. I can't believe how happy I am. I even lost 4lbs over Christmas!"
Today Lynn, who is 5ft 9in, is nearly 8st slimmer than seven months ago and is a size 24: "If I eat too much now I feel uncomfortable but I still enjoy food. I've got so much more energy and I'm not breathless anymore. My next goal is my 40th birthday in April and if I could be a size 20 by then it would be the best-ever present!