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Published on December 19, 2018

Weight Loss Surgery: From Feeling Bleak to Feeling Beautiful, Inside and Out

Weight Loss Surgery

If you compare January 2016 with January 2018, you would hardly believe the fabulous transition for one area resident: in health, in appearance and, perhaps more important, in attitude and outlook. Her full-on transformation was possible because of her personal determination, the amazing encouragement of her spouse, and the tools and support of her bariatric team at Cone Health.

“Back then, at 292 lbs., I couldn’t even stand in line at the grocery store,” says Cheryl Neal, 55, of Greensboro. “I had to sit while waiting for my husband, William, to check out. I needed both knees replaced, but my orthopedist couldn’t do surgery because of my weight.”

The joint pain made being active difficult, too, but she tried. “I’d lose weight, then pack it all back on, plus more.” She also had a host of other health conditions that she struggled to keep under control. “I was resigned to be morbidly obese all my life. It was bleak for me looking forward.”

At that time, she also had high cholesterol, high blood pressure and Crohn’s disease. But surprisingly, learning that winter that she also had one additional health condition helped put Cheryl on track.

Weight Loss Surgery

"Today, I can walk anywhere without stopping, and up any stairs. And I even enjoy working out." - Cheryl Neal

A new life

“That January (2016), my doctor diagnosed me with diabetes,” she says. “My initial reaction was, ‘I just don’t want to take another pill’.”

And with that decision, she was finally ready to tackle her weight and her health once again—this time with success. She looked to her doctor and Cone Health to help her to take charge of her life. She enrolled in the diabetes education class at Cone Health to learn what she could do to improve her health. Weight loss was an obvious choice. But this time, instead of going it alone, she researched weight loss surgeries.

“I talked to my doctor about it, and she encouraged me to look into the bariatric program at Cone Health at Central Carolina Hospital,” she says. “I attended the informational session in March and signed up immediately.”

She met with the Cone Health team for a variety of exams and testing, to make sure she was ready for surgery. One test uncovered yet another health condition: a hernia that needed to be repaired surgically.

With this additional health condition, her husband and twin daughters, aged 23, were concerned.

“William told me, ‘I love you however you are or will be; I just don’t want you to die,” she says. “He was very supportive the whole time. He went to every single pre- and post-op appointment with me, even though he works second shift.”

With her personal determination, her husband’s encouragement and the team at Cone Health, Cheryl has transformed her life. In addition to bariatric surgery, she took advantage of Cone Health’s BELT program to kick-start her fitness. She maintained her successes by participating in the HOPE exercise program plus Cone Health’s in-person support group.

Today, she is happy to report that her blood pressure is fine; diabetes is undetectable; and cholesterol and other lab work are great.

Joint pain is also a thing of the past. “By July of 2017, after losing over 120 lbs., I was able to have two knee surgeries seven weeks apart. Today, I can walk anywhere without stopping, and up any stairs. And I even enjoy working out. Better yet, I can do what I want with my family. Life is beautiful.”

“Everyone I’ve encountered at Cone Health through this program has been phenomenal and very encouraging,” she says. “And today, I want others to see that it’s possible to go from where I was to where I am. You have your whole life ahead of you to enjoy.”

Cone Health’s bariatric program can be an important step in getting you where you want to be. Find out about the next informational session.

About Cone Health Bariatric Surgery

The Cone Health Bariatric Surgery Program is the only program in the Triad that is recognized as a Center of Excellence by North Carolina’s top four health plans:

    • Aetna Institute of Quality (IOQ) for Bariatric Surgery
    • BlueCross BlueShield Blue Distinction Center Plus (+) for Bariatric Surgery
    • Cigna Designated Facility for Bariatric Surgery
    • UnitedHealthcare Center of Excellence for Bariatric Surgery

Stories of Exceptional Care