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Choosing Her Own Path

New Life -Choosing Her Own Path GraphicLeslie, a regulatory compliance specialist with ORNL Federal Credit Union — had been struggling with her weight for years. She’d lost and gained back the same 50 pounds time and again, and nothing seemed to work in the long term.

“At 30, I weighed 318 pounds,” she says. “I had high blood pressure and was in the early phases of diabetes. I hurt, and I knew where this was going to lead if I didn’t do something. I’d seen it happen in my own family.”

Leslie’s father passed away from weight related complications in his 50s. She worried that the same fate might await her and decided that it was time to make a change. With the support of her husband, Allen, she decided to call Choosing Leslie Daugherty Spring 2015-afterTennova Center for Surgical Weight Loss to see if she qualified for surgery.

At a free weight-loss surgery seminar, Leslie met Tennova Center for Surgical Weight Loss medical director and bariatric surgeon Stephen Boyce, MD, FACS, FASMBS, and his colleague, fellow bariatric surgeon Robert Williams, MD, FACS, FASMBS.

“I was already considering weight-loss surgery after I found out my insurance could help pay for it, and once I met Dr. Boyce and Dr. Williams, my mind was made up,” Leslie says. “They were easy to talk to, and I loved their approach. They really connected with me, and I felt at ease right away.”

After Leslie had her initial consultation with Dr. Boyce, it was full steam ahead. Dr. Boyce’s office worked closely with Leslie in the months leading up to surgery, helping prepare her for the important changes she would have to make to reach a healthier weight.

“They were interested in finding out what I wanted to achieve and how we could accomplish that,” Leslie says. “I worked with a registered dietitian and exercise physiologist who helped me realize that to get what I wanted I was going to have to commit to an active lifestyle.”

With the support of her medical team, Leslie was fully prepared to be successful at losing the weight and keeping it off. She joined a support group to get a head start and mentally prepare for life after surgery.

Dr. Boyce performed a successful gastric bypass procedure on Leslie. “I used a minimally invasive approach to reduce the size of Mrs. Daugherty’s stomach and bypass part of the small intestine so she would absorb fewer calories from food,” Dr. Boyce says. “This is an extremely effective procedure that helps people feel fuller sooner and makes it easier to lose weight, even if other weight-loss attempts have been unsuccessful.”

In the first month, Leslie lost 34 pounds. Six months after surgery, she was down 100 pounds. “It was so motivating to see the weight come off and stay off,” Leslie says. “On my own, it would have taken much longer, and I probably wouldn’t have been able to do it. It was hard work, but it paid off.”

Leslie was able to stop taking medication for high blood pressure and no longer has pre-diabetes. She’s also discovered a love of running that has helped her inspire others.

In January 2010, two years after her surgery, Leslie put on her running shoes and completed her first 5K race. Since then, she’s finished more than 20 half-marathons and five full marathons, some here in East Tennessee and others around the country.

“People look at me and say, ‘Oh, I could never run a marathon,’ and I tell them that they can if they want to,” Leslie says. “It doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s possible. Almost anything is achievable if you have the right tools. Weight-loss surgery was the tool I needed to make a change.”

Her progress continues to touch the lives of those around her. In 2014, her colleagues at ORNL Federal Credit Union nominated Leslie for the Lifestyle Change Award from the Greater Knoxville Heart Walk. When she and her team from work arrived at the event to support heart disease awareness and research, she learned she won the award.

“It was such a surprise to show up for the walk and receive that honor,” Leslie says. “If my story inspires someone else to make a change, it’s all been worth it.”

If you struggle to lose weight and keep it off, weight-loss surgery may offer you a solution.  Attend one of our free seminars to find out if you qualify.

Tennova Center for Surgical Weight Loss is accredited by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP) as a Comprehensive Center with Adolescent Qualifications. MBSAQIP was formed in 2012 when the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) combined their national bariatric surgery accreditation programs into a single program to create one national standard for all bariatric surgery centers. Previously, Tennova Healthcare’s bariatric program was accredited by the ACS.


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