Katie Baker, 31, is desperately raising money for surgery to remove 20 litres of fat from her legs.
The mum and former chef has lipoedema, a condition that causes an abnormal biold-up of fat cells in the legs.
She developed the issue when she was 13 but says her lipoedema has worsened during her two pregnancies.
While Katie at first thought she was just ‘fat’, changing her diet and undergoing a gastric bypass made no difference. Her legs continued to grow and now weigh an estimated combined weight of 3 stone and 2lbs.
It didn’t help that she was dismissed by doctors for years, who thought her legs were just swollen until September this year.
Katie’s lipodoema has now left her housebound as the weight of her legs causes her pain and makes it difficult to move around.
She has created a GoFundMe page to raise money towards surgery.
‘I have spent most of my life feeling guilty and blaming myself for my legs – I thought I was ruining my own life by being fat,’ Katie, from Ontario, Canada, explains.
‘I felt relieved when I was diagnosed. I had read about lipoedema before online, but I thought it seemed too good to be true as I’d always blamed myself.
‘I didn’t understand how someone can be fat without it being their own fault.
‘I have suffered with severe self-confidence issues due to my condition causing me to be the victim of playground bullying.
‘Even when I take my children Abigail, eight, and Benjamin, one, to the park – kids ask me “why are your legs so gross?”
‘It is never ending, and I just want to feel good in my own skin.’
Katie first noticed weight gain in her legs when she was going through puberty.
She blamed herself for putting on weight, despite her top half being much slimmer than her bottom half.
The condition has had such an impact on Katie’s self-esteem that she has considered suicide.
Katie said: ‘Doctors always gave an unexplained cause of fat legs because I looked it but to me it didn’t add up as I have never had a bad enough diet to compensate the weight.
‘I have experienced suicidal thoughts due to my condition getting worse and worse.
‘During my first pregnancy, I gained seven stone and my partner couldn’t even look at me and now we’ve separated.
‘I weighed 25 stone, so I underwent a gastric bypass in 2012 which helped me lose 10 stone.
‘However, my legs remained the same and failed to slim down.
‘It isn’t just the mental aspect of dealing with lipoedema that is hard but the physical too.
‘I am constantly in pain; it is unbearable and feels like my legs are an overfilled water balloon that is about to burst.
‘I have had to put my son Benjamin who is 18 months into childcare because I can’t keep up with him.’
Katie was forced to quit her job as she was declared disabled in January 2018.
Along with lipoedema, Katie had now developed lymphedema, a long-term condition where excess lymphatic fluid collects in tissues, causing further swelling.
Katie is fundraising £112,500 to cover the costs of four rounds of liposuction to remove 20 litres of excess fat at a time from her legs.
She says: ‘If lipoedema is caught early enough it can be treated, unfortunately, I have learnt the hard way.
‘This condition is debilitating and taking over my life.
‘I am unable to sit down as my bum bruises and I experience excruciating pain when standing, which leads me to spend most of the day lying down.
‘I want nothing more than to play with my children and return to work, I loved my job!
‘It is also stealing my daughter’s childhood; she is like a mini mum around the house and always checking up on me and offering a hand.
‘I am sharing my story for all the other women who are suffering with this chronic disease and want to get their life back also.
‘I am in the process of starting a lipoedema awareness campaign on social media to hopefully educate the medical community so it can be diagnosed and monitored early on.’
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