Elizabeth Szewczyk, 53, of Enfield, knows all about overcoming obstacles, but her child's illness set a chain of events into effect that .
"I went back to school when I had four children and became a teacher, and I got my master's degree and I taught at the school I wanted to teach at in the district I wanted to teach in, and then I taught in a college and then I wrote a book and then I wrote another book," Szewczyk said.
But those challenges were nothing compared to what she experienced eight years ago when her youngest child, Dan, was just 14. He was diagnosed with cancer and needed intense chemotherapy to survive.
"When we first found out we were in complete shock and my feeling was my whole life changed," Elizabeth said.
The experience took a toll on her as a mother, but it also took a toll on her health.
"There were no thoughts about means and being healthy, just getting Dan through this,," she said.
During that time, Elizabeth quickly packed on extra pounds.
"If there were donuts there, that's what I would be eating. I wouldn't leave Dan. I would make sure someone was there all the time," she said.
Eventually Dan got through his battle with cancer but Elizabeth carried the scars with her in the form of pounds.
"I would try different diets and then I would stop, and then for every pound I would have lost, I would put it back on and then a little bit more. Just the way they tell you that it happens,” she said.
Now she says she's ready to shed the past.
"I can't go to California, but when I look at those people on TV, I know that I could be one of those people and my favorite saying to my husband is, 'Bring on Jillian because she doesn't scare me.' I'll take her on. I'll do it."
She says she will be Connecticut's biggest loser, no matter what it takes.
"I've always thought I was a strong woman in everything that has come my way, so I think this is going to make me even stronger," she said.