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Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital

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Bariatric Testimonials

Patient Testimonials

The testimonials below are all real-life stories from patients who have undergone bariatric surgery through our award-winning program. Their pictures were taken throughout their journey and during one of our annual bariatric fall fashion show events in the Grand Court at the Cherry Hill Mall.

Thomas

Thomas's Story

"I’m a 70-year-old man, with tears filling my eyes as I write this. How do I put into words how I feel? Dr. Marc Neff and his team did not do me a small favor; they gave me my life back.

In 2015, at a visit with my cardiologist, I asked, “Doctor, I’m 320 pounds. I’m 66-years-old. What is my life span?” Without hesitation, he responded, “at your weight, maybe 72.” This was incredibly daunting to hear. We began discussing options right away. When I asked about gastric sleeve surgery, he gave me his medical approval.

In October 2015, I attended Dr. Neff’s Bariatric Weight Loss Seminar. Unfortunately, I had some setbacks that were out of my control. On March 12, 2018, I had the surgery. I was finally taking control of my life.

It has been a year since my surgery, and I have lost 117 pounds.

I feel victorious in ways that aren’t even related to that number on the scale. I can do things I never imagined, including playing with my two gorgeous granddaughters. I also don’t have to take diabetes medication anymore! I’m healthy again, and most importantly, I can be there for my family.

I only have good things to say about Dr. Neff. He became more than my surgeon. He became my friend. I know he and his team have performed thousands of surgeries, but I was never made to feel like a number. Their concern for you as their patient, and for your success, is genuine. My dietitian, Lindsay Friel, has been extremely supportive as well. I always know I’m in good hands with her.

If you’re considering weight loss surgery, know that it’s not easy. It takes full commitment, not only for a day, month, or year, but for a lifetime. It’s a long journey, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t dwell on who you were; always look to the future and what you can be.

To Dr. Neff and his team: It took time, but I realized I was the most important part of the puzzle. Your group provided all the other pieces, which made me whole. Whatever life I have ahead of me, I can thank you for. I will never forget all of your encouragement and support." 

John

John's Story

“I saw Dr. Louis Balsama for my one-year checkup – all good news! I lost 117 pounds, my blood pressure was 118/66 and all my labs came back looking great, except for a slight Vitamin D deficiency.

I have so much more energy! Not only do I feel healthier, but I also have a positive mental attitude about myself. I was at the lowest point of my life, 18 months ago, with my weight and eating habits completely out of control, causing lethargy and depression. Coupled with worsening peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage) – mostly concentrated in my feet and lower legs – and two foot surgeries, my situation was a recipe for hopelessness. I knew that if I didn’t do something to improve my weight and health soon, I would be diabetic and have to deal with so many obvious complications.

After an exhaustive search for the best tool for weight loss in my situation, I decided to have the gastric sleeve done by 'Dr. B.' I thought I would have a much harder time losing weight compared to others because of my inability to exercise. I was WRONG.

‘The sisters,’ sisters Susan and Robin (bariatric angels), visited me in the hospital after my surgery to give me a pep talk and inform me of exercise programs that can be done even while sitting in a chair or during a water aerobics class.

Fast forward to the present – I still sit down during our 20-20-20 exercise class due to balance issues, but I benefit greatly from it. The water aerobics class surprised me the most! I never expected I could do so many exercises in the water that I can’t do ‘normally.’ My balance in the water is unbelievable, as is the ability to hop and bounce on my bad foot. My arms, legs and core keep getting stronger and my stamina has increased substantially.

I cannot emphasize enough how crucial these programs have been throughout my weight loss journey. Not only are there obvious results from all of this hard work, but we have a ton of fun – especially during 'noodle time.' One more crucial element is the monthly support group, where we gain a wealth of information from the staff and hear advice from the experiences of other bariatric patients.

If I can give one parting piece of advice, it would be to take advantage of all that is available at Jefferson Health to help facilitate your weight loss journey to a happier and healthier life.”

Donna

Donna's Story

"Today marks my one-year 'surgiversary,' and I’m astonished by my results.

I couldn’t have done it without the help of so many people. First and foremost, I would like to thank my surgeon, Dr. Louis Balsama, and his team members Kathleen McKeever and Chris Arroliga. They truly care for each and every one of their patients. 

Secondly, I am so thankful for my family’s love and support, and all of the new friends I’ve made throughout Jefferson Health. Last, but not least, I would like to thank my dear friends Cindy Jones Johnson and Anthony Grelli. If it weren’t for these two, I would be in a much different place.

To the right are a few pictures that document my journey to a healthier life. From left to right:  my birthday last year; day of surgery; Dr. Balsama and me at my first 5K; my birthday this year; and my one-year follow-up appointment with Dr. Balsama, Kathleen McKeever and Chris Arroliga.

In the most recent picture, I’ve lost 110 pounds with 10 more to go. The future looks bright, and I’m excited to see what I can accomplish next!"

TroJah

TroJah's Story

"This life chose me!

I was overweight my entire life. Being born nine pounds, nine and a half ounces pretty much set the tone for the weight struggles I’d constantly endure from childhood into adulthood. I’ve been told stories of how my family would overfeed me as a child. One year on Thanksgiving, they fed me so much, I had to go to the hospital to get my stomach pumped. However, these stories and my weight only DESCRIBED me. In no way, shape, form or fashion did I allow it to DEFINE me!

I was gifted and talented in many things, but I was still always known as the BIG girl with the pretty face or the BIG girl who can SING! Over the years, and into adulthood, I got tired of that being my narrative. I found my voice! I discovered my passion and started walking in my purpose. Since 2009, I’ve lead a community organization for overweight women and young girls. I host workshops and support groups empowering and encouraging self-love and body acceptance. I built an incredible social media platform and network of women who - like me - were seeking images and inspiration of plus size women living and LOVING life! We weren’t hopeless and helpless. We were stuck in a rut of having low self-esteem and self-confidence. Many of us started to celebrate our curves and learned to love the skin we were in.

My reality started to change as I got married, had children and traveled. The harsh reality set in that my weight was starting to hinder the quality of my life. I wasn’t playing in the parks with my children. I was embarrassed every time I boarded a plane, because I needed a seat belt extension. Going up a flight of stairs was getting harder and harder. Even being intimate with my husband started to change. I found myself joining Weight Watchers and was only 11 pounds away from 400 hundred pounds. I cried when I stepped on the scale, because I never realized just how big I was. I tried diets and different regimens on my own for years. Nothing ever lasted. I would nearly kill myself working out five days a week only to lose two pounds.  I realized I had to do something about it. Most importantly, I had to stop caring what everyone else thought, especially the community of plus sized women I had surrounded myself with, and make the decision to SAVE MY LIFE!

How could I challenge these women to truly love themselves, when here I was struggling with my own weight issues? I realized that weight loss surgery was NOT the easy way out. It was a tool to jumpstart the lifestyle change I was so desperately seeking. My message is still the same, only now there is an added clause. If you love yourself, then you’ll take the BEST care of yourself. That requires taking a REAL assessment of your health, which can force you to see how your weight has started to cripple you and decrease your quality of life. That’s what happened to me. I finally accepted medical intervention, because I decided I WANTED TO LIVE!

While I didn’t have any extreme illnesses, I was one or two points away from EVERYTHING. I didn’t want to wait for the doctor to tell me I had to take medication for the rest of my life before making a change. Currently, I am almost six months out from having a baby girl, and I am super proud that I am back to my pre-baby weight. This means that VSG still works for me! I had my surgery in August 2016! Now, not only did I divorce the park benches, but I’m beating my kids when racing! No more asking for seatbelt extensions. Now, I have lots of space after buckling up! I am looking forward to running behind my first baby girl, because she’s already a walker. Plus, this past summer, I already beat my boys (ages 7 & 11) at a game of basketball!

Can you believe I wrote my first book titled, 'MY FAT IS NOT A FLAW' back in 2013? I employed women to have confidence in their curves and that’s still my message - still my passion. My new book tells the story of the struggles that come along with the weight and the toll it takes on your health. It talks about still being confident in your body, but also being REAL about what’s going on and seeking the necessary help to put you on the right path to health and wealth! It’s titled, 'Winning the War on Weight,' because this weight thing is truly a war, but with the right tools we WILL WIN!

Jackie

Jackie's Story

"Today marks a very special day in my life: the day I made the decision to take control of my health for myself and my family.

Choosing to have a life-altering procedure like bariatric surgery is not an overnight decision. Outside of the intensive medical testing before surgery, I felt uncertain, fearful, excited and embarrassed - but that didn’t stop me. The obstacles I faced before, during and after my surgery only reassured me that this was the right decision.

Bariatric surgery is not the 'quick-fix' that many think it is. It is a tool that helps jumpstart a healthier lifestyle. I work each and every day to maintain my weight loss by eating healthy foods and maintaining a healthy exercise regimen.

I could not have done this without the support of my family, my incredible surgeon, Dr. Louis Balsama, and his amazing team at Jefferson Health New Jersey! I also couldn't have done it without the support of the many new friends I have met throughout this process, who also made this brave decision to change their lives for the better. 

No matter what life throws at me, I will never give up. I said goodbye to the old me for good, and I’ve made the choice to never go back!" 

Paul

Paul's Story

"I write this today having lost 103 lbs. and a desire to share my story.

November 20, 2017, for me, was, and will remain the day, I embarked on a new journey. This journey wasn't easy, but it is one I will never regret. It is the day I began the journey to a newer, healthier and happier me. I knew I wanted to make a change and become the person I’ve always wanted to be.  

In November 2017, I was grossly overweight (morbidly obese) and disgusted with who I let myself become. I was 300 lbs. and my triglycerides and blood pressure were dangerously high. Most days, especially in the summer, I would feel the negative impact on my body. I had a hard time catching my breath and would get pounding headaches (from my blood pressure being too high). I was afraid of having a heart attack. Throughout my struggle, I did not tell my wife, which was a mistake. I didn’t want to worry her, but soon discovered she was my biggest source of motivation.

I knew it was time to take action. As a father and husband, I feel I am responsible for providing for my family. I knew that would become impossible if I didn’t start making changes now. I decided to talk to my wife and doctor about having bariatric surgery. With both on board, I moved to the next step.

On January 10, 2018, I had gastric sleeve surgery and began my recovery. I knew it was going to be a lot of hard work, so I decided to flip my lifestyle on its head. Prior to my surgery, I successfully lost 33 lbs., but I knew I needed much more.  Through altering my diet and exercising on a regular basis, my health is where it should be, and my energy and confidence are through the roof!

Some will read this and shake their heads or say discouraging remarks. Some will say I could have done it without the surgery. What I have to say to them is surgery was right for me and what I needed to reach my goals. I don’t even know how many times I lost the same weight. Now, I can keep it off for good. This was my tool to help me get there. However, I am thankful that the majority of people who see me now and know my story, are overjoyed for me. I don’t think it will ever get old hearing people say how thin I look. It’s been three and a half months since my surgery, and I’ve lost an additional 70 lbs. for a grand total of 103 lbs!

I am still on the journey to my weight loss goal, but I am thankful for where I am today."

John M

John's Story

"There has never been a point in my life when I wasn't overweight. Even my earliest memories are of being the biggest kid in class. After trying seemingly every diet or weight loss plan known to man, I convinced myself that I was going to be living however much was left of my life in a world that clearly wasn't built for someone my size. But then, with the help of Dr. Neff and his team, I realized my situation wasn't as hopeless as I had thought. Now, I'm doing things I thought were impossible for me. Heck, I can even fasten my seatbelt now. Most importantly, I feel better than I ever have in my life, not just physically, but also about who I am as a person. And that's why I can say, without a doubt, bariatric surgery didn't just save my life, it gave me one."

Ann

Ann's Story

"I got to the point in my life that when I looked in the mirror, I didn't recognize the person looking back at me. Going into this, I knew it would not be a quick fix, but the single most important step in the right direction to becoming the best me both physically and mentally. Bariatric surgery truly has changed my life for the better!"

Esteban

Esteban's Story

"Bariatric surgery resurrected my life! I was only existing; now, I'm living! Living with a purpose to prolong my life! To be here for my heart and soul, Daniella & Antonio, for as long as The Lord allows." 

Cheryl

Cheryl's Story

"After experiencing a life altering event, the death of my fiancé, Michael, who was my best friend and soulmate for life, I spiraled out of control and ended up packing on many unwanted pounds as a way to cope. After years of being unhappy, unhealthy and treated as if I was invisible, I started to research what I could do to help myself. I have to thank Dr. Balsama. Without him, I would not be where I am today - happy, healthy, very visible and living life to the fullest."

Gary

Gary's Story

"Bariatric surgery has certainly changed my life.  During the six years since my procedure, I have been able to 'un-complicate' my overall physical condition by eliminating several of my medical co-morbidities. This has resulted in ridding me of some of the medications that I required and providing me with an opportunity to enjoy life in general to a greater degree. I was reminded of this very recently when I spent an active, fun-filled vacation with my family, which happens to include a very energetic three year old grandson."

Diane

Diane's Story

"Bariatric surgery not only changed my lifestyle, but literally saved my life. It’s amazing to be free of obesity in this society, and now, I feel like I am a participant instead of being on the sidelines looking at life pass me by. I wouldn’t change a single moment of this journey because, 'Look how far it’s taken me.' I’m now a part of this wonderful bariatric family, and I am very thankful for the opportunity!"

Donna

Donna's Story

“For years before my surgery, I followed every diet in the book and coped with back pain and prediabetes. I was also scared for my well-being because of a cardiac history in my family. I’m a nurse at Jefferson, and I saw how well the Bariatric program was doing; some of my co-workers had surgery and they did so well and looked so great. So, I started looking into the program by going to a seminar given by Dr. Fakulujo. Now, I’m living life to the fullest and wouldn’t change a thing!"

Monique

Monique's Story

"My weight has been an issue for me since I was a child. Surgery was my last option and it happened to be the best decision I ever made.  I still have a few more pounds to lose and not all of my co-morbidities are gone, but they have gotten a lot better. There are still many things I have to explore and accomplish, and gastric sleeve surgery was just the beginning."