Rays of Resilience

Losing Weight Was the Hardest Thing She’d Done… Until She Found Cancer

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Tiffany Humpert, called “Pearls” by her friends, was at a low point when she decided to try out to be a contestant on ABC’s reality show “Extreme Weight Loss.” In 2014, she’d lost her husband, her stepson, and her job. “I realized I had lost everything except weight,” she said in a 2018 interview.

At her heaviest, Tiffany weighted 360 pounds. She was 296 pounds when she become a contestant on “Extreme Weight Loss.” She worked extremely hard for a year, exercising and cutting calories, and at the end of her time, she was down to 147 pounds. She’d lost over half her weight.

Photo: Khou.com

Photo: Khou.com

But there were more challenges ahead for Tiffany. She’d lost breast tissue because of her weight loss, so she decided to do a self-breast exam. “I pressed my hand [on the breast] barely touched on the side, and I felt a lump, and it was big,” she said.

Tiffany was uninsured at the time and didn’t know how she would pay for a mammogram, let alone treatment if necessary. She reached out to Moncrief Cancer Institute in Fort Worth, where she heard she could receive a free breast exam. Tiffany scheduled an appointment, and her mammogram confirmed what she feared: she had breast cancer.

Photo: Khou.com

Photo: Khou.com

Tiffany is grateful to have had the staff at the Moncrief Cancer Institute. “When you go in and you’re told, ‘you have cancer,’ you’re handed this mountain you don’t know how to climb,” she said. “It’s like climbing in roller skates. And they hold your hand through it all.”

She went through chemo and a double-mastectomy, and she, and her doctors, credit her weight loss with saving her life. The weight she lost made it easier for her to feel the lump growing in her breast, and her struggle to lose the weight prepared her both mentally and physically for cancer treatment.

Photo: Khou.com (Courtesy of ABC)

Photo: Khou.com (Courtesy of ABC)

“When you look back and see the mountain you just climbed, I’m like ‘Whoa. How did I do that?'” she said.

What’s next for Tiffany? Now she keeps busy staying healthy—by teaching trampoline fitness classes! Tiffany leaps and bounds all while encouraging other women in their journey to better health. She’s looking forward to her upcoming wedding, and best of all, she’s happily cancer free.

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Katie Taylor started writing in 5th grade and hasn't stopped since. Her favorite place to pen a phrase is in front of her fireplace with a cup of tea, but she's been known to write in parking lots on the backs of old receipts if necessary. She and her husband live cozily in the Pacific Northwest enjoying rainy days and Netflix.
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