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Michelle's story: Journey to feeling healthier


I am a 53 years-young, mother of two children, 25 and 12, but have many children that are in my life. I’m also a grandmother. 

Michelle before visiting the Weight and Wellness Center at Tufts MCMy story is like many others. I struggled with weight gain wearing up to a 22/24, 3x since the late 90's after my first child. It’s funny how people tell you that when you gain weight its “happy weight” or that you’re just big boned. Or they say you looked better when you were round or had a fuller face. What does that really mean anyway? 

We don't realize we eat to take the pain away for something we feel deep inside, not knowing what it is. Unconsciously we do the late night snacking and we end up eating unhealthful foods 365 days a year. Until we pass a mirror and really look at ourselves or try to buy something for a dressy event – it’s then that we realize we have changed. We look like two people molded into one. 
In the past I tried quick remedies for weight loss such as Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Herbal Life, JJ Smith, and Atkins. You name it, and I probably tried it. All of these would work for a period of time but they weren’t a long term solution for me. I would lose 10 - 20 pounds and plateau, and then gain it back plus more. 

In September of 2014 I was diagnosed with a stage 4 lobular breast carcinoma and underwent a lumpectomy. As part of my surgical prep I was given a blue dye to target the cancer area however neither I nor my physician knew that I was allergic to it. During the surgery my heart rate went down and it appeared I was having a heart attack. Thank goodness the team figured out what was wrong while I was in surgery! I am thankful to have lived through it and I am a cancer survivor today. Until then, I didn’t realize that so many things could be affected by my weight. 

Following the lumpectomy I needed to have reconstructive breast surgery (in fact, I now have this scheduled for December of 2018). In order to reduce complications and to be my healthiest ‘self’ going into surgery the surgeon suggested I needed to lose weight. My breast specialist then sent me to the Weight and Wellness team and they worked with me to help adjust my lifestyle for the better. I learned to restructure my eating habits and make healthier choices. We had a conversation about my options for weight loss and the different types of weight loss surgery. This was the best decision I ever made for myself. I knew I was ready to feel better, take pressure of my knees and body, and to live a longer life so I could enjoy my sons and grandchildren. I wanted to see them grow up and go to sporting events and participate in life activities etc. 

Michelle after sleeve surgery at Tufts MCI had my sleeve on March 28, 2017. My highest weight before the sleeve was 275 lbs. When I had the surgery I was 256 lbs. Currently, I am 190 lbs. and am wearing 12/14 size dresses and medium/large tops – a big change from before! I have an ongoing goal to get to 170 lbs. While I'm not yet where I want to be, I know I will get there eventually. What I do know is that if I didn’t have the surgery I would still be stuck and at a standstill. 

I also have to realize that it took over 20 years to put the weight on. To keep my weight off I have to stay diligent with exercise and eat small portions. It’s so easy to fall back into old habits but I have to stay positive because I don't want to go through all of this to gain it back. 

I loved my team at the Weight and Wellness Center! Dr. Shah was especially excellent.  She took time with me during our visit and helped me to get real results.