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Now it’s my chance to change lives

Tina Cousins is about to launch a new Slimming World group in Herne. Here the 45-year-old tells Aiden Barlow how a cancer scare changed her life for the better, and how she hopes to help others.

Tell us about yourself.
I live in Seasalter with my son who is 21 and disabled. He suffers from symptoms which are like having a stroke as a result of epileptic seizures. Since he was little he has had different illnesses, and has sometimes been in a wheelchair. I’m his full-time carer, but I also have a partner who has his own children as well.

Tell us about your cancer scare.
I had a cancer scare in 2008. It was painful and frightening as they had to operate on me to find out. They didn’t know at that stage if I was going to make it or not. It wasn’t 100% clear what they were going to find. At the time my son, who was 14, only had me, so it’s not easy when you have got a disabled child. It was very scary. He is still mentally a child now, but the idea I would leave him broke my heart. I was praying that I would be ok so I could look after him. I’m all clear now, and fortunately they found the problem wasn’t cancerous. They had to test because my blood was showing that something wasn’t right, and they were preparing me for the worst. Luckily it wasn’t cancer, and I’m ok now.

Why did you join Slimming World?
I was at the Chaucer Hospital, and after coming round from the anaesthetic I thought I have got to change my life and get myself well. My mum had her first heart attack at 46. I was thinking that I was heading the same way. I was overweight, and I needed to get me health back up and running. I was very nervous and rang up front before I went. The man on the phone said I wouldn’t be humiliated or judged. So I went along and I’ve never looked back since.

How has your lifestyle changed?
I have lost four and a half stone in weight. To do it meant I had to change the way I shop, cook and eat. I can walk a lot more now, whereas before I couldn’t walk very much at all. I go for walks with my son, and if he is in a wheelchair it’s quite tough to push a wheelchair with an 18-stone lad. I’m still not the most confident person when it comes to gyms or swimming. I feel a bit conscious when I’m putting on a swimming costume and going into the pool. So I prefer to exercise at home. It is a bit old fashioned, with old aerobics and home exercise videos for toning. The modern stuff can be a bit too fast for me. Weight problems have been a big part of my life.

Tell us about the new Slimming World class.
I’m going to be hosting the new group up at Herne Junior School in School Lane. The first session was on April 7. Then after that it will be every Tuesday at 7.30pm. I’m feeling nervous about it, but also excited. When I was offered the chance I knew it was a big thing. I want to help people because I know exactly what it’s like. I’ve had a problem since childhood. It got progressively worse, so I can appreciate how hard it is for some people to lose weight and get their health back in a good state. People who want to come along should not feel that they will be judged. We’re all there to have fun and be part of a group like a family who support each other. We can help with eating plans which is better than just a diet. So it can make a really big difference. I think with the obesity epidemic that it’s important there are places for people to become healthy. I don’t dictate, but I do feel it’s important to have a healthy lifestyle.

What are your hobbies and interests?
I love walking with my dogs on the beach in Herne Bay, and my son and I also go to Bluewater for a walk round too. We often go to the cinema and watch action movies. Also, I love to cook. I’m always cooking stuff, whether it is things from Slimming World recipes or my own. If I had to name a few favourite dishes I’d say shepherd’s pie, spaghetti bolognaise, stews, casseroles and chilli.

Herne Bay Gazette, April 9th 2015

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