A SOUTH Tyneside mum who battled her weight on national TV has lost her brave fight with cancer.
Millions tuned in to the ITV show The Biggest Loser to see Jarrow mum Karen Layton shed the pounds alongside husband Mark last year.
Together, the pair weighed a whopping 50st when they first started the show, but after taking part in gruelling tasks Karen lost 5st 8lb while Mark dropped 7st 2lbs.
The show helped the couple overhaul their lifestyle, and together they were looking forward to a healthier future with their twins Alex and Owen, 11.
But Karen was later diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and though she underwent a hysterectomy and chemotherapy treatment, the cancer returned earlier this year – this time spreading to her lymph nodes.
The 49-year-old housewife was told two weeks ago that her condition was incurable. She finally lost her fight against the disease on Sunday at St Clare’s Hospice in Jarrow.
Her heartbroken husband Mark, 46, said: “By the end Karen was in a lot of pain, but she wouldn’t let it show. That’s just who she was.
“Every step of the way we spoke to the kids and explained what was happening and the treatment she was receiving. But coming home on Sunday and having to tell them their mum had died was the hardest thing.”
HE added: “I can’t thank the Macmillan nurses and staff at St Clare’s Hospice enough. They really made life as comfortable as possible for her for the time she had left.”
Karen and Mark appeared on The Biggest Loser programme, where viewers saw the couple battle against 14 other wannabe ‘losers’ in a series of challenges, including racing up Portsmouth’s 170m-high Spinnaker tower, pushing scrum sledges at Twickenham rugby stadium and rolling 800lb hay bales across fields.
The couple’s final task saw them heading to Cyprus to take part in a triathalon.
Karen went on to scoop second place in the contest after being pipped to the post by rival contestant Wil Graham.
She said: “What I have achieved I’ve amazed myself with. I just never thought I would have been able to do it.”
After the programme the couple, from Kent Place, Jarrow, kept up their fitness regime, only easing off when Karen become ill.
Mark added: “When Karen became really ill I stopped going to the gym and gave up a lot of things so I could stay at home and look after her.
“One of the last things she said to me before she died was ‘you’re going back to that gym’.”
A service will be held for Karen at South Shields Crematorium on Monday at 10.30am.
The family have requested family flowers.
Donations can be left after for Macmillan Nurses and St Clare’s Hospice.