Tipping the scales at almost 28 stone, aunt-to-be Maxine Wren was warned by her GP she could be dead within a year.
Determined to survive to meet her nephew, the 39-year-old took the fight into her own hands after refusing weight-loss surgery and slimming pills.
Now, the Chester-le-Street aunt has been crowned Slimming World’s Woman of the Year after shedding a massive 17 stone.
Maxine was prescribed slimming pills and referred for a gastric bypass operation by her GP.
But a month later she learned her sister was expecting a baby, and decided surgery was too much of a risk.
Having ballooned to 27st 12lbs at her heaviest, Maxine joined her local Slimming World group.
Since March 2013 she shed the pounds rapidly and dropped to 10st 4½lbs.
And Maxine’s hard work paid off as she married husband John in a size 8/10 wedding dress, having previously been a dress size 36.
She said: “The slimming pills made me so poorly that I had to stop taking them.
“Plus, I didn’t want to die on the operating table and never meet my nephew, so I decided to join Slimming World instead and I’m so glad I did.”
Qualified nursery practitioner Maxine struggled with her weight from a young age due to a rare bone condition called Blount’s disease.
At her biggest, she struggled to walk without crutches and turned to food to comfort her through the pain.
Slimming clubs, fad diets and calorie-controlled shakes did not work, and Maxine was resigned to the fact she was always going to be big.
She said: “I painted a smile on my face but inside my heart was broken.”
But Maxine changed her life after hearing her sister’s good news, and chose Slimming World after receiving a leaflet through her door.
She said: “Even though I knew people who had been successful with Slimming World, I was still petrified and it took me three weeks to actually walk through the doors.
“I worried the other members would stare at me or that I was so big I’d break the scales. This was my last chance though and I had to do it.
“Everyone was really friendly so I had nothing to worry about and I lost a massive 12lbs in my first week – for the first time in my life I felt like there was light at the end of the tunnel.”
Swapping buttery toast and takeaways for healthy homemade meals, Maxine shed the pounds.
She added: “It’s not a diet because there’s nothing you can’t have and there’s no need to go hungry. I’ve learned how to make the healthiest choices and can even eat out if I want to.
“My favourite dish has to be a Slimming World-style kebab, it’s really satisfying and tastes so naughty but it’s not at all. My husband John enjoys the same meals too now.”
Maxine walked down the aisle in August 2016 wearing a size 8/10 wedding dress and said it was her dream come true.
She finished: “Words can’t describe how special it was to walk down the aisle more than half the woman I was.
For the first time in my life, when I look in the mirror I like how I look – and I felt like a princess on my wedding day.
“I hope I’m proof to people that there’s never any amount of weight you can’t lose. Everything’s changed.”