I just want to say a big thank you to Georgina Hannay for sharing her inspirational story with us. Georgina shows incredible resilence in the face of adversity. It puts many things in perspective and we wish Georgina and her family the very best in the future – “Together, We Inspire” Gareth Presch
In July 2015 I was lucky enough to to have an email from Women’s Health Magazine to inform me that of the thousands and thousands of applicants I had made the top 10 finalists for the ‘Body of the year competition’. This was the most incredible feeling in the world and made this five year battle totally worth it. On July 30th I went to London with the other 9 finalists for various photoshoots and interviews to find out who the final 5 would be. It’s now down to you guys to vote for your winner. The winner will be featured on the front of Women’s Health Magazine later in the year, so please read my story and make your vote! (See below for the link to vote for Georgina)
This competition is judged on the body, the face and the story of how you got where you are. Here’s my story.
Thanks for reading 🙂
In 2007 due to a number of factors I started restricting my food intake, I felt sick a lot so this seemed like the obvious answer as if I hadn’t eaten anything the likelihood I would be sick was slim (so I thought). The correct diagnosis for this irrational fear of sickness is Emetophobia which is not recognised by the medical profession very widely, more benchmarked in to the generic ‘eating disorder’ category. This eating disorder progressively got worse and started to take control of my life. My body weight plummeted and by the end of 2007 I was 5’5 stone with a BMI of 13.6, I had absolutely no appetite or motivation. My periods had stopped and I would regularly have people (normally girls) whispering about how horrendous I looked if I ventured outside.
I spent two years battling with this and finally in 2009 I started to make some progress on the road to recovery, with the motivation of being able to have a family.
Gaining weight was impossible, my body was in starvation mode and no matter how many calories I ate my weight wouldn’t change. Having always been active I decided (though my family and friends were against the idea in my skeletal state) to start playing hockey again and exercising. The first few sessions killed me and I was wiped out beyond belief, but slowly playing once or twice a week my appetite started to increase and I gained muscle, fat and in turn weight, this continued until my BMI was back at a healthy state.
On the slow road to recovery and after six months of horrible symptoms (including severe bloating, discharge, pain and spotting) and after being passed from GP to GP I made it to the Gynaecology unit of University Hospitals Bristol (where I now work) and was seen by a consultant.
I was diagnosed with Cervical cancer only days before my 25th birthday when I would have been due to have my first smear test. I underwent a laparoscopic cone biopsy where they removed around 95% of my cervix which left me swollen and sore for weeks. On checking the cell margins from tissue taken under anaesthetic they realised that I didn’t have a clear margin and there was still pre-cancer present on the edge of my cervix, so in June 2010 I had laparoscopic LLETZ procedure where they burn another layer of cells from the edge of the cervix leaving me with 16mm of cervix remaining. This rid me of the tumour and all the pre-cancerous cells that had been found but left me scarred in four places on my abdomen and bloated beyond belief, exercise was not an option, and I was hobbling for weeks.
The recovery for all of this surgery through my abdomen was difficult as they had damaged my stomach muscles so i was basically starting from scratch again when i started thinking about training.
In 2011 not long after I got married me and my husband started trying for a baby. I had been warned this would be difficult if not impossible after the all the surgery and likely scarring my treatment had caused. Between June – November 2011 I had a number of miscarriages and started to lose hope that I would ever fall pregnant. My consultant suggested another laparoscopy to try and clear out some of the Endometriosis and scarring I had contracted from all the surgery to raise my chances of falling pregnant, low and behold it worked! On January the 1st 2012 I had my first positive pregnancy test!
The first 8 weeks of the pregnancy were pretty normal, I felt horrendous as expected, cried at adverts and craved some seriously strange food. Flagged as a high risk pregnancy due to all the cervix surgery I had I was under the watchful eye of another consultant. At 10 weeks after an internal scan of my cervix it was decided that due to the weakness of my cervix (having had so much of it removed) I would have to have a cervical stitch placed in the hope to hold everything in place, and then spend the remainder of the pregnancy on bed rest. This was a scary prospect having only just got my life back on track, but being so desperate to be a mother I didn’t even question it and said yes.
At 12 weeks under general anaesthetic I had the cervical stitch put in, I then spent the next 7 months on strict bed rest at home, this type of bed rest only allowed me to make small snacks, shower once a day and use the bathroom. My car was sold, I was signed off sick from work and stayed primarily alone within the four walls of our home, the only regular outing was a weekly trip to the hospital to have my internal cervix scan to check how my cervix was holding up. Every week it was worse, and by the 28th week they thought my cervix was going to fail and pre-empted labour giving me a steroid shot for the baby, following this nothing happened and on I went. At 38 weeks I had another operation to remove the cervical stitch as this was identified as a safe point to be going in to labour and again, nothing happened.
At 40+9 having been in labour for 48 hours they made the decision to induce me, I was in so much pain and my cervix refused to do anything. They induced me and in the end had to tear my cervix open (most likely as it was so scarred) and on the 20th September 2012 our daughter was born. It was the most incredible feeling in the world, against all odds and the hardest 7 month journey in my life she was here and I had done it.
The main issue after the pregnancy was the state it had left my body in, 7 months on bed rest had given me serious muscle wastage and I had the strength of an elderly woman. I made the decision to breast feed which took away the option to exercise as I had to focus on keeping weight on andmy milk production adequate.
The first few months went by and I maintained my weight but my appetite was poor and I was tired all of the time. In January 2013 my marriage broke down and my husband moved out, again my weight plummeted, the stress and upset of the situation and the determination to keep up the breastfeeding which I swore I would do was draining me on a daily basis.
After hitting rock bottom, slowly over the next18 months i got my life back on track, I started gentle exercise again with Arabella in the buggy then played a season at my local hockey club. My weight started to improve, my energy levels increased and i started to feel like myself again. In 2014 I decided to get more serious about my fitness with a little bit more time on my hands and I joined a Gym, learning as i went and with trusty YouTube for any questions and inspiration for my workouts i learnt all types of exercises.
These days home life is great (though busy), I live with my daughter and my two Chihuahua’s, I still work part time in an Oncology Centre close by, I do freelance photography, love to cook and blog about all matter of subjects related to food and fitness, especially home fitness. Being a single mum i can’t get to the gym every day so i am inventive with ways to get those ‘gym workouts’ from home with alternatives.
Thank you for reading.
You can vote for Georgina here – http://www.womenshealthmag.co.uk/magazine/the-body/3656/meet-the-body-finalist-georgina-hannay/
Check out Georgina’s website here – http://www.pearlsandprotein.com/
*The opinions expressed are the bloggers own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Health Innovation Summit.
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