Weight Loss Surgery
Success Story

Lori Thomas spent much of her
life in an up and down battle...

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Supporting Mercy
for Generations

This month when the new Alex G.
Spanos Heart & Vascular Center...

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Weight Loss Surgery Success Story: Lori Thomas

Lori Thomas spent much of her life in an up and down battle with her weight. "I was overweight as a child... Then I kept it off as a teenager," she remembers. "But then I got really heavy after I had my two kids."

At her heaviest, Lori weighed 297 pounds. She tried every diet she could find and although she usually managed to lose 50 pounds or so, the weight would always creep back on. "I tried everything but I always gained the weight back. I wasn't healthy. I was tired, I didn't have any energy... I knew it wasn't good for me." In fact, Lori's weight was having a serious impact on her health – her blood pressure was high and she was suffering from severe sleep apnea. She knew something had to change.

"I had a friend who had undergone bariatric surgery. She was really great though and never pressured me to do it. It has to be something you decide to do on your own." After thinking about weight loss surgery for years, Lori decided the time was right in 2012. "Once I made the decision and I made the commitment, I wasn't worried or scared – I was excited."

Part of Lori's excitement was due to Dr. Afshin Eslami, whom she met through Methodist Hospital's Bariatric Surgery Program. "I met Dr. Eslami at my introductory bariatric meeting. For the first time, I felt like here was someone who really understood obese people. He didn't make me feel like being overweight was my fault. He helped me to realize it is a disease. I had hope that I could do this."

Lori elected to have Dr. Eslami perform a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, a procedure in which the surgeon makes the patient's stomach smaller. From that point on, Lori took to heart everything Dr. Eslami told her to do. "He wanted me to start walking right there in the hospital after the surgery, so I walked! After I went home, he wanted me walking outside, a little farther every time and that's what I did. When he told me to join a gym, I thought he was crazy, but I did it!" Lori also followed the advice of Dr. Eslami and his team when it came to food. She watched her portion size as well as what she ate to prevent any complications or unpleasant side effects from the surgery. She also stopped eating sugar for a year.

For Lori, the weight started coming off immediately. "My friends saw a difference in my face and my overall demeanor right away. I never hit a plateau and the weight just kept coming off." Today, nearly two years after her surgery, Lori is down 131 pounds and feels fantastic. She credits not only the change in her eating habits but also her new dedication to exercise. "Before my surgery I never exercised, but now I am at the gym five or six times a week. I joined a gym that is open 24 hours a day and at first I would go at off times because I was so embarrassed. Now, I am one of the fittest people there! Someday I'd even like to become a trainer for elderly or overweight people."

Lori has also brought her new love of fitness to work – she teaches sixth graders in Sacramento and has been known to have her students perform 90 second squats! She also challenged them to outrun her at the school jog-a-thon. "It's great – I'm 52 years old and I can keep up with a lot of those kids!"

For anyone who is obese and considering bariatric surgery, Lori has some advice. "Surgery is not the end all, cure all... You still have to work at it every day. But – the reality is that I could not have lost this weight without surgery. I wish I would have done it sooner! It's a personal choice, but if you think it is the right choice for you, then do it!"

For more information about the specific bariatric procedures offered by Dignity Health and to learn whether you would be a candidate for a bariatric procedure, visit our website. Also, you can join us at a Bariatric Seminar to find out if weight loss through bariatric surgery is right for you.

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Supporting Mercy for Generations: Agnes Anderson

Above: The healing garden at the Alex G.
Spanos Heart & Vascular Center.

This month when the new Alex G. Spanos Heart & Vascular Center opens on the campus of Mercy General Hospital, there will be a new place for visitors and patients to experience quiet reflection just outside the hospital doors. The new Healing Garden is situated just to the right of the hospital's new main entrance, featuring several benches and a meandering water feature it is the perfect spot to reflect. The healing garden is made possible by a gift from Agnes Anderson and her late husband Walter, a couple whose love of Mercy and community will be felt for generations to come. "There is a special spot in my heart for Mercy," Agnes says.

Agnes Anderson grew up in Oakland, but frequently visited Sacramento to see her relatives, including Sisters of Mercy Mary Agnes, (for whom Agnes was named), Mary Clare, and Mary Therese, who lived and worked at the facility that would later become Mercy General Hospital.

Inspired during those visits by the Sisters who worked in the hospital's pharmacy, Agnes pursued a pharmacy degree at UCSF and was among a small number of women in her graduating class. She met her late husband, Walter, in pharmacy school. After marrying, the couple moved in 1949 to Sacramento. Here, Agnes and Walter would raise their family. The Andersons, along with Walter's twin brother, Harold, opened Anderson Bros. pharmacy in Town and Country Village, a pharmacy that is still thriving and serving the community today.

Through the years, Agnes and her family have remained deeply connected to the Catholic community and the Sisters of Mercy. That connection has only grown in the years since Agnes began making her first trips to Sacramento. "I have a passion for the Sisters of Mercy and for health care," Agnes says, noting that a dozen Anderson children and grandchildren were born at Mercy General Hospital.

The Andersons have expressed their support through more than 20 years of generous philanthropy. Their gifts to Mercy Foundation – totaling more than $1 million – helped to renovate the Sisters of Mercy Motherhouse in Auburn, Calif., and also supported construction of the new Alex G. Spanos Heart & Vascular Center at Mercy General Hospital. In fact, the Healing Garden adjacent to the Spanos Center is named "The Walter C. and Agnes V. Anderson Healing Garden." Recently, in recognition of Agnes' recent gift to Mercy Foundation providing support to Mercy General Hospital, the new, quarter-acre neighborhood park on 39th Street will be named for her. "Anderson Park" features grassy areas, a lattice structure to provide shade, and has as its centerpiece a large, multi-tiered fountain. A dedication event will be held in the new park at 11 a.m., Thursday, April 10.

Agnes Anderson celebrates her 90th birthday in April and Mercy Foundation and Mercy General Hospital will help her celebrate it – a celebration of a woman who has given so much to her community and whose gifts will live on for generations to come.

To learn more about opportunities to support the many works of the Sisters of Mercy, visit the Mercy Foundation website or call 916.851.2700.

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