LOGANVILLE, Ga. - For years, the gym was just about the last place you'd find Dee Dee Michener.
"I had been overweight all my life, struggled with weight all my life,” Michener says. “I’d been on every possible diet you can imagine."
By 2009, the Grayson 52-year old decided she was tired of wanting to hide from the world.
So she pursued, and got approved for, gastric bypass surgery.
"And then realized I needed a mammogram,” she remembers. “It was time for my mammogram. So, I did. I went to the doctor."
That's when Dee Dee Michener's life unraveled.
Because doctors found a tumor.
"I will remember it forever,” says Michener. “It was a Tuesday. Went to the breast surgeon on Thursday. Went straight downstairs for a biopsy. It came back positive. Had surgery the next Monday. It was stage two, already had cancer in my lymph nodes."
Now, instead of weight loss surgery, Michener found herself facing months of chemotherapy, and radiation.
She was devastated.
"Honestly, I ate my way through it,” she says. “I ate and ate and ate, and I grew bigger and bigger and bigger. And, I gained more and more and more."
Michener beat breast cancer.
But by 2015, 5 years later after her treatment ended, she weighed close to 300 pounds.
"I felt like I was doomed and destined to be fat the rest of my life,” she says.
Then, while visiting a doctor's office, Michener says a pamphlet for the Center for Weight Management at Gwinnett Medical Center, where Dr. Robert Richard is the medical director.
"None of these operations are miracle cures,” says Dr. Richard. “What these operations do is they give patients the opportunity to feel full and satisfied on a much smaller portion of food."
Dee Dee Michener started the surgical clearance process again.
In June of 2015, she underwent a laparoscopic gastric bypass to permanently alter her digestive tract and limit how much she can eat.
This was just the first step.
"As soon as I woke up, I was, like, 'Let me out of this bed, I want to start walking,’” she says. “And my daughter was with me that night, and we walked and walked the halls."
Then, she joined Loganville's Workout Anytime, where personal trainer Ron Thompson, became her "transformation coach."
"Every week she had a different target for us,” says Thompson. “It made it fun, because I wanted to make sure she hit that target."
"It was a lot of motivation, because I knew he was here, he was waiting on me,” remembers Michener.
They started small, focusing on goals like climbing stairs without feeling winded.
"And she did the workout and she never said, ‘Hey, I can't do that,’" says Thompson. “She trusted everything I told her, and she did it. No problem."
In the 18 months since her surgery, Dee Dee Michener has dropped 142 pounds, nearly half her body weight.
"I feel so much better,” she says. “I’ve got a bike, I ride my bike. I'm out and about. I'm not ashamed to be seen in public."
Because Dee Dee Michener now feels too good to hide.
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