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“I’ve always been quite a big girl with a healthy appetite. After my second child was born, my weight settled down at about 12 stone and nothing I did made a difference. When I reached 33, I gave up trying to lose weight and spent more time trying to be healthy and happy within myself. I stopped weighing myself completely and felt a lot better for it. It was only when my sister asked me how I had lost so much weight that I realised with a start that I had dropped two stone in the last 3 months.

“I was completely baffled. I had lost two stone without trying. After the initial feelings of euphoria, I came to realise that my usual healthy appetite had disappeared. I was skipping meals without even knowing it. My bowel movements had also become erratic and I would throw up sometimes for no reason – even on an empty stomach. Within a few weeks, I was beginning to look ill. It was time to visit my GP.

“I was diagnosed with the early stages of bowel cancer. Shocked to the core, I was lucky it had been diagnosed in the early stages. I went through test after test, invasive surgery, chemo and all sorts of misery. My life had taken a complete u turn without warning.

“I worked for a small graphic design company as a website engineer. After six months of total unreliability, my boss was forced to make a decision. I received a compassionate but firm letter from personnel. As a small company, they had no choice but to replace me with someone more consistent.

“I always assumed that if I was seriously unwell, the world would stop and wait for me to get better. But it doesn’t work that way. It’s not just the stress of being sick that breaks you. It’s the chain reaction of events that hit you as a consequence of your illness that wreck your life. Not only was I sick and in agony, I also had to contend with the fact that I had no job and no income. My mortgage lender was surprisingly unsympathetic and I would lose our house if the arrears mounted. My life was spiralling out of control right in front of my eyes. At one point, all the fight left me and I just wanted to die as quickly as possible.

“Out of the blue, I received a phone call from Joanna, my financial adviser asking why my mortgage had fallen into arrears. I wept as I told her my story. After I had finished pouring my heart out, there was a moment of silence and then she said these words I will never forget:” “Hang on, Wendy. Didn’t I set up a life and critical illness policy for you when we arranged your mortgage? Let me check and get back to you.”

“Joanna called the next day and reminded me that I had been paying £55 a month for life and critical illness cover which would pay off my mortgage and a bit more on death or diagnosis of a critical illness such as cancer. Better still, I didn’t have to die to get the money! I could have kissed her!

“After filling in a claim form, the insurance company paid off my mortgage together with an additional amount equivalent to 12 months’ salary. I used some of that to go on a recovery holiday to St Lucia.

“I have now completely recovered. The holiday made all the difference. I take the credit for having the foresight in taking out a life and critical illness policy. My financial adviser takes the credit for selling me the policy. Who cares? Thanks to my insurance policy, I found a little joy in a hopeless place.

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