She was getting ready to die when a new friend changed her life

Bridgetown woman almost gave up

Published on March 7, 2016

Lisa Melanson-Wilkins and friend Nathalie Marsdin hug. Marsdin saw Melanson-Wilkins’ hurt and gently encouraged her to begin taking baby steps towards rebuilding her life.

©Heather Killen

BRIDGETOWN - If more people walked a mile in Lisa Melanson-Wilkins’ shoes, there’d be fewer haters. Melanson-Wilkins says for most of her life she’s known that people often see her as overweight. She has lived with the expectation that wherever she goes, people will likely criticize her, due to her size.

While nasty names and comments always hurt, this judgment never stopped her from living her life, until one day she was dropping her son off at his elementary school.

“I heard them say, ‘why’s your mom so fat?’ I realized this hurt him,” she said. “So I stayed away, that way my children wouldn’t get hurt.”

Years passed and Melanson-Wilkins put on a brave and happy face to the world, meanwhile gaining more weight. She began to experience new health problems that limited her mobility.

At her highest weight, she had difficulty getting to the washroom and bathing. She admits her quality of life was greatly diminished. To the outside world, she may have seemed upbeat and funny, but she says she was dying inside.

One day I was over at her house and we were talking and I saw the hurt in her eyes. I knew she was dying inside. Nathalie Marsdin

Preparing To Die

With her son now in senior high school and looking forward to his graduation, she began preparing him for her inevitable death. Branden Wilkins said his mother had nearly given up on life.

“She was certain she would not make it to my graduation this June,” he said. “My mom cried that she would not be able to dance with me at prom for the grad and parent dance.”

Melanson-Wilkins says that she believed her struggle had reached a critical point, and that there was no help for her.

“I felt I wasn’t going to make it, that my size would kill me,” she said. “All I wanted to do was sleep all the time, I just didn’t have the strength to carry me.”

Then one afternoon in August, she decided to go picking blueberries and happened next to a woman who would change her life. Nathalie Marsdin had moved to the area a few years ago and hadn’t met many people.

She says she noticed Melanson-Wilkins right away and liked her sense of humour.

The two women started talking and realized they had a lot in common, their children were friends, and coincidently they both lived in the same neighbourhood.

Could See The Hurt

“We’re both Geminis,” said Marsdin. “One day I was over at her house and we were talking and I saw the hurt in her eyes. I knew she was dying inside.”

Marsdin added that she was grieving the loss of her best friend, her mother, and the two women forged a friendship. She encouraged Melanson-Wilkins to begin taking baby steps towards rebuilding her life.

“I said oh, good come walk with me,” she said. The two started walking together, Melanson-Wilkins beginning slowly on her own, walking first to the end of her driveway and gradually increasing the distance with Marsdin cheering her on.

“I felt that she truly loved me and that she wanted to help,” she said. “She didn’t run me down. So I tried walking to her house. I started slowly, making marks on the road and each day I’d try to go further. Finally I made it to her house. What a feeling that was.”


Journey To Health

This journey back towards a healthier lifestyle is still gaining ground as she has lost almost 60 pounds and is walking in all kinds of weather, wracking up the kilometers from Bridgetown to Greenwood.

At first people were nasty, she said. But now as more people are recognizing her along the way, she is getting lots of waves, horns blowing, as all kinds of people cheer her on.

She has created a Facebook page to show her progress. She added that anyone can join, even the haters.

“We’ll turn them around,” she said. “You have to love yourself in order to be happy. Don’t judge me, I’m struggling and fighting for every step I take. Look at yourself and try to see the good in you, rather than judge me.”

To follow Lisa Melanson-Wilkins, visit the Facebook page, Walk along with me !! -Lisa Melanson-Wilkins.