Just in time for her daughter's wedding, Lenee Gaddis lost more than 50 pounds in six weeks, but the Sioux Falls woman didn't lose weight simply to look good in wedding pictures; that's because Gaddis is also a stage three breast cancer survivor.
"It's a motivation knowing that being overweight can increase your risk of recurrence," Gaddis said.
To decrease her risk of the cancer returning, Gaddis took part in an Avera study. The study looked at how overweight breast cancer survivors can drop pounds quickly.
"On average in the study our patients lost about 45 pounds," Avera Medical Group Oncologist Dr. Amy Krie said.
The patients ate a diet low in calories and carbohydrates. During the first phase, they had protein-based meal replacements.
"We did see that with this, we dropped those estrogen levels. Since that's what feeds a lot of breast cancers to grow, that's really important," Krie said.
Dr. Amy Krie also says with the weight loss, patients' inflammation improved.
"When we looked at these so-called inflammatory markers in the bloodstream, we were also able to see that those inflammatory markers came down very nicely. Again something we think might be driving these cancer cells to grow," Krie said.
Two years after her weight loss, Gaddis has been able to keep the pounds off. She watches what she eats and exercises.
"It's amazing how some of the aches and pains go away as you lose the weight," Gaddis said.
That will come in handy as Gaddis plays with her first grandchild.
"My grandson was born in December. He's not running around yet. He's pretty young yet, but I'm looking forward to that," Gaddis said.