Sara Prince George, BC
In Sara’s earliest memories, she was heavy. She tried to change that, but nothing ever worked Portion control did not work. Weight Watchers did not work. Neither did journaling. None of the diets worked. None of them worked. Pep-talks, gym memberships, dieticians and nutritionists, and pills did not work. Sara remained heavy.
Sara was the only member of the family with the problem. Her parents, who farmed outside of Prince George, in Northern BC, did everything they could to help their daughter lose weight. Sara was not a sedentary child. She helped her parents on the farm: hauling hay and looking after animals. And she played soccer at school. But the years of battling unsuccessfully to reduce her weight, while being teased relentlessly by other kids, made Sara an extremely self-conscious young girl. As she went through high school, she increasingly found excuses to avoid joining in.
The challenges continued into adulthood. Sara had three kids, but her marriage was failing. The stress resulted in cycles of binge eating and depression, and Sara's weight fluctuated heavily. In 2015 Sara found herself a single parent on social assistance, with three young children, and facing health challenges due to her weight. She had to make a change.
Sara had considered Bariatric surgery previously. "It is a frightening procedure. I was afraid, but I was even more afraid of leaving my kids without a Mum," she remembers. Sara was initially rejected, but a full three years later Sara got the call. She was to appear at her first appointment in Richmond, BC in a month's time.
Who would look after the kids? Could she drive the eight or nine hours with the three of them in the car? Where would they stay? Sara was panicking, fearful that she would have to cancel. That was the turning point. Her job coach told Sara about Hope Air and that night she applied online. "I was floored when I heard back the next day!” says Sara. The next day her flight was booked.
Hope Air was able to organize the trip for one day. I dropped off the kids with a friend and went straight to the airport for the flight to Vancouver. I completed the appointment and was back before dinner.
Hope Air arranged six trips from Prince George to Vancouver. The seventh trip was in March 2017, when Sara underwent Gastric Sleeve surgery and then a second surgery in April of 2018.
Sara’s life turned around. Over the next year she lost 200 pounds. Suddenly she could participate with her children, instead of watching from the sidelines. “The day I could go down the water slide with my kids I cried right in the pool.” Sara remembers. Finally, something had worked!
Sara is bubbly with excitement as she talks about her progress since then. She feels great and has had no problems related to the surgery. A recent weekend spent hiking with her children is something she could only dream about before the surgery. “We went straight up the mountain. A total of ten kilometers! We picked the hardest path!” Sara’s kids are thriving, and she is now beginning the process of going back at school with the goal of training to be a Conservation Officer. She is very happy, she is now engaged to be married and her family has grown to include three stepsons.
“It has been an incredible journey,” says Sara. “Now, I have my physical health and my mental health. How could I have made it to all the appointments, the surgeries, everything, without the help of Hope Air? I am so grateful.”