“The only thing I thought about was how I could get through the day.”
Samantha Fowler says her “world collapsed” when her husband Adrian died in October 2017, just one year and one week after being diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer.
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She had to force herself to get out of bed for their children and turned to alcohol to numb the pain.
She said: “I have not got a clue what I ate and I was drinking more-or-less every day - not glasses and glasses, but at least a bottle of wine every night.”
It was a difficult time for Samantha, from Ince, and she resigned from her job in sales, feeling unable to return to the position she once loved.
She says months passed in “a blur of grief” and she continued drinking regularly, though cutting back so it was mainly at weekends.
But after feeling uncomfortable due to her weight during a hen party in Berlin in August last year, Samantha decided it was time to make a change.
She also wanted to spend more time with her loved ones after a friend died by suicide, so decided to join a slimming group where her friends were already having success.
Samantha, 51, weighed 14st 8lb at her heaviest and had signed up for the group several times before.
She ate out at lot, both while working away and with Adrian when she returned home, and enjoyed a bottle of wine and snacks at weekends.
When her weight increased, she joined the club, lost a stone, gave up and returned the following year.
She said: “I was a serial joiner at Slimming World. I joined over and over again. I joined every year.
“I would lose a stone, go on holiday, be frightened of the scales and not come back for another year.”
But this time she stuck with it, going to the meetings every week and changing her eating habits.
Samantha said: “You never forget, but you have to learn to live and it gives you something to focus on.
“It’s a reason to get out of the house at least once a week and be social. For a long time. I didn’t even really want to speak to people but it forced me to do it.”
As well as changing what she ate, Samantha has stopped drinking alcohol at home, now just enjoying a few glasses on a night out or on holiday.
She currently weights 12st 6lb and is continuing to shed the pounds.
She said: “I feel a lot better physically. I get up in a morning and my ankles don’t ache. I used to get out of bed and as soon as my feet were on the floor, my ankles would ache.
“I go walking every day with my dog and this week I ran 15 minutes non-stop.”
She was also pleased to find herself able to complete a challenging hike in the Royal National Park in Sydney during a recent holiday, returning to the bus before younger walkers.
Samantha, who has two children, three stepchildren and two grandchildren, is now embarking on a new career.
She is becoming a Slimming World consultant, with her first group starting later this month at Independent Methodist Church in Hindley.
Samantha said: “I wanted to do a job where I was helping people, but I’m really not cut out to be a nurse or something like that. This is a way of helping people, making them healthier and allowing them to spend more time with the people they love.”