Walk from Obesity – Raising Awareness

May 26, 2016 Brigham and Women's Hospital

This year's Boston Walk from Obesity winds through the Arnold Arboretum.

This year’s Boston Walk from Obesity winds through the Arnold Arboretum.

This year’s Boston Walk from Obesity, sponsored once again by Brigham and Women’s Center for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (CMBS), will take place on Saturday, June 4, from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The walk begins and ends at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital (BWFH) and winds through the beautiful Arnold Arboretum. Everyone is invited to participate by either walking or cheering on the walkers. Funds raised through the event will be used to support obesity-related research, education, and awareness programs promoted by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Foundation.

Sheila Fitzgerald, 57, of Dedham, MA, will be participating in the Walk from Obesity again this year. Last year, she was among the top fundraisers in the country. Her focus this year, however, is more on raising awareness than raising money.

“I think it’s important to talk about obesity and educate people,” says Sheila.

She wants others to be more informed than she was. A lack of understanding is why it took her so long to consider weight loss surgery, she explains. The need for a knee replacement, however, pushed her to learn more about surgical options for weight loss.

Staying Active

Sheila has always been active, even when she was overweight. However, two years ago, severe pain in her left knee caused her to cut back on her exercise. She sought counsel from Dr. Anthony Webber, an orthopedic surgeon at BWFH, who advised her that she should get a knee replacement. Otherwise, she would become sedentary – a prospect that she feared.

“That freaked me out,” says Sheila. “I was active, and I wanted to stay active.”

Despite being apprehensive about undergoing weight loss surgery, she signed up for an information session. She asked a lot of questions at the session and soon learned that weight loss surgery would be a sensible treatment for her obesity.

After being evaluated by Dr. Scott Shikora, Director of the CMBS, and other BWH specialists, it was determined that she would be a suitable candidate for a sleeve gastrectomy. This procedure involves removing the outer crescent of the stomach, an area where a major hormone that regulates appetite is produced. The procedure also reduces the capacity of the stomach to hold food by about 75 percent. Along with promoting weight loss, the sleeve gastrectomy is believed to be particularly effective at treating certain metabolic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatty liver disease, and obstructive sleep apnea.

Dr. Shikora performed Sheila’s weight loss surgery in January 2014. Since that time, she has lost 80 pounds and no longer has sleep apnea. Those benefits also have come with no complications.

In November 2014, Dr. Webber performed Sheila’s knee replacement. Her knee feels great today, and she has been back to being her active self for more than a year.

Sheila also is now an informed advocate of weight loss surgery.

“It has changed my life,” says Sheila. “I would recommend it. I have recommended it.”

If you’d like to join Sheila at the Walk or donate, please visit the 2016 Boston Walk from Obesity Registration and Donation page.

– Chris P.

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