This past week I came across two excellent blog posts by Jone’ Carpenter, a cancer survivor. In the posts, the blogger spoke of her life after a summer 2010 diagnosis of breast cancer and her journey over the past 18 months. Although cancer has not touched my life, I can relate her story to my October 2008 heart attack, triple cardiac bypass surgery, subsequent recovery and months in cardiac rehab.
What was most striking about her story was her determination to defeat her cancer and move her life forward in a very positive manner. Shedding the negativity and negative influencers while surrounding herself with positive, supportive people helped her achieve goals and grow as a person.
The above paragraph sounds very much like something that weight loss surgery patients should be doing to assure their personal success. Bariatric post-ops may not have battled cancer and endured painful sickening medical treatments, but they need to bring focus to their new lives. Without a clear vision on where they are going, the life changes enabled by bariatric surgery can easily be negated with poor diet, exercise and life choices.
The blogger spoke of her involvement in the A Time to Heal cancer survivor recovery program. I did a little digging and found out that his program was founded by Drs. Stephanie Koraleski and Kay Ryan ofOmaha,Nebraska. The program helps cancer patients regain their physical, emotional, and spiritual health after cancer treatment. The program’s sessions encompass physical fitness, educational training, group discussion, and relaxation techniques. Sessions conclude with patients expressing their affirmations and intentions. It appears to be a very holistic, patient centered approach to recovery.
The components of the A Time to Heal program very much align with the needs of a post-op bariatric patient. Sadly I have not seen this type of organized program at any weight loss surgery center. Patients are given minimal support after bariatric surgery. Periodic office visits with nutritionists, surgeons, and counselors are sporadic at best. Not all bariatric centers have active and engaged support groups. These lightweight programs can not begin to reach the level of post-surgery support that the A Time to Heal program offers.
Is the fact that the medical community sees bariatric surgery in a different light than they see cancer and cardiac surgery? Does the medical community see bariatric surgery as an elective non-life threatening surgery that is often classified as a cosmetic procedure? I think there is definitely some bias within the community.
I would like to see bariatric centers implement a 12 week bariatric surgery recovery program. I witness in message boards and in support group meetings the need for more supervised program after weight loss surgery. Weight loss surgery failures often point to failures to make life changes and live a healthier, more active life. A Bariatric Time to Heal program would encourage and reinforce the positive changes that need to happen in a post-op’s life. It would engage patients in defining their personal success and learn from the personal successes shared by fellow members.
You can read Jone’ Carpenter’s blog posts from the Summa Flourish, a women’s health blog from Summa Health System, by clicking on the following links.
- Crooked Wigs and Chemo Buddies: How I Survived Breast Cancer, Part 1
- From the Starting Line to the Finish Line: How I Survived Breast Cancer, Part 2