A woman who has shed a staggering 14 stone will take the plunge in a charity skydive to celebrate her new lease of life - and raise money for a worthy cause.
Rachael Baldwin is unrecognisable from the woman she once was. The 38-year-old from Illingworth tipped the scales at 24-and-a-half stone and admits she used to hide away because of her weight.
But fast forward two years and the mum-of-one stands proud in a slinky size 10 and has a new zest for life.
“People walk past me in the street and don’t know me,” she said.
“It feels amazing. I’ve had 20 years of nothingness and now I feel I’m doing all the things I should have been doing.”
Rachael was spurred on to make a change when her husband Terry fell ill in 2014. He had to undergo intensive treatment and Rachael feared her weight would prevent her from looking after him. She took the plunge to have private gastric band surgery, but was told by her doctor that she would be a better candidate for a gastric bypass.
But when she underwent a routine endoscopy, she received the shock news she had a tumour in her stomach, despite not being ill and not showing any symptoms.
Rachael, who works as Rosehill Polymers, Sowerby Bridge, had the bypass in 2015 and was told surgeons would look to remove the tumour afterwards. At one point, she was told she may have to undergo a life-changing operation to remove her whole stomach. Meanwhile, determined Rachael began training tirelessly at the gym. Then in August last year, she went for a CT scan so doctors could determine the best course of action to remove the tumour. Amazingly, the scan came back clear and Rachael received the news it had disappeared
She said: “I was told I was a medical mystery and to keep doing whatever I was doing as it was clearly helping my body. I was living knowing that I would have to have my stomach removed and then all of a sudden it had gone.”
Now Rachael is looking to the future and challenging herself to do things she wouldn’t have done before. She will take to the skies on June 3 and is hoping to raise as much money as she can for the Elland-based Overgate Hospice. To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Rachael-Baldwin2