Patient Success Stories

‘It is nice to feel like myself again. The Center gave me my life back.’

When Stoneham resident Megan McDonough put on almost 100 pounds in a year it took a toll on her. She lost herself – her personality and confidence just faded away. Six months after gastric bypass surgery at the Hallmark Health System Center for Weight Management and Weight Loss Surgery McDonough is back and thankful to the team for her success.

“It’s still shocking,” McDonough, 32, said of her weight loss. “I have so much more energy. If it wasn’t for the Center’s team I wouldn’t be here and I wouldn’t be this happy.”

McDonough was against surgery at first, saying it seemed “extreme.” Still, she went to the Center’s information session and researched several other hospitals in the area. One day McDonough opened up her local newspaper and saw an article on Jennifer Lane, MD, one of the Center’s surgeons. She took it as a sign and decided to set up an appointment.

“The entire staff was extremely warm and welcoming and there was no judgment,” said McDonough. “Lawrence Memorial Hospital was the only hospital I felt comfortable with.”

Since surgery, McDonough’s life has changed quite a bit. She has lost 100 pounds, has started dating again and is also hoping to run a 5K next year in honor of the one year anniversary of her surgery. McDonough said most importantly she is happy and confident again, something she lost with her weight again.

“Everyone says my personality is back to how it used to be,” she said. “It is nice to feel like myself again. The Center gave me my life back.”


An amazing experience from start to finish

Everett resident Marie Baker doesn’t get nervous or overly excited about anything, so when a mass was detected during her annual mammogram at Lawrence Memorial Hospital of Medford she didn’t overreact. She was referred to Catherine Tucker, MD at the Hallmark Health System Comprehensive Breast Center, located at the Stoneham Outpatient Campus at 41 Montvale Ave. for a biopsy.

“Even if you don’t want to get nervous over something like this you get nervous,” said Marie, 66.

Thankfully the Center’s staff was able to put her at ease. Marie said from the moment she entered the building her anxiety level steadily decreased. She was struck by the staff’s genuine compassion and thankful that they took the time to walk her through every step of the biopsy, what she could expect and answered all her questions.

“I was just so amazed by how I was treated,” said Marie. “I felt like royalty like I was someone really special.”

Marie received good news soon after her procedure -the mass was benign. She was so relieved, but still thankful for the positive experience she had at the Center. Marie said she wouldn’t think twice about going back to the Center or recommending it to friends and family for their breast health needs.

“I was so grateful I had access to great healthcare,” she said. “The Center was just fabulous. It was an amazing experience from start to finish.”

'The body I was in wasn't me'

Rhonda Rocco-Campbell, originally from Everett now residing in Bradford, never struggled with her weight until she had her second child. Like many women, she had trouble losing the pregnancy weight. Campbell dealt with the weight gain for years, often feeling frustrated and upset she let herself get to this point. That was until she ran into a family friend at a cookout, who recommended the Hallmark Health System Center for Weight Management and Weight Loss Surgery.

Campbell, 46, did some research and attended one of the Center’s information sessions at Lawrence Memorial Hospital of Medford where she met Andras Sandor, MD, the Center’s director. She was immediately taken with how nice and down to Earth he was and made an appointment to explore her options. Tests showed that Campbell, like many bariatric surgery patients, had high blood pressure and cholesterol as well as a mild case of sleep apnea. That was the deciding factor for her, she was having the surgery.

Campbell was afraid at first to tell people that she’d had surgery. She feared people would judge her, thinking she took the easy way by undergoing surgery instead of dieting and exercising.

Despite her feelings, Campbell knew she had made the right choice.

“I’ve been on Weight Watchers and I’ve been on Jenny Craig,” she said. “You name it I’ve done it, but nothing worked.”

It’s been almost a year since Campbell’s surgery and she looks and feels great! She has lost more than 80 pounds and was happy to report that Dr. Sandor didn’t recognize her at her last appointment.  

Campbell said having surgery was the best thing she ever did.

“I’m really happy and I just love life now,” she said. “I knew the body I was in wasn’t me. I owe everything to Dr. Sandor for giving me my life back! 

'Seeing our daughter born was amazing'

Melrose-Wakefield Hospital (MWH) is leading the way in enhancing the birthing experience for mothers by becoming one of the first hospitals in the state to introduce family-centered caesarean births. Patient and physician feedback has shown that mothers who give birth via caesarean section, or C-section, have a very different experience than women who have natural births. Family-centered caesarean births include the use of clear surgical drapes that allow mothers to see their baby being born and to see and better communicate with their physician, facilitation of early skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby and delaying routine procedures until after first breastfeeding.

Erin Friedrich, of Saugus, felt she missed out on the birth of her first child two years ago. Due to complications she was rushed in for an emergency C-section and was not awake when her daughter Keira was born. Friedrich was disappointed and hoped things would be different when she had her second child. Thanks to MWH they were!

Friedrich had read about family-centered caesarean births and introduced the idea to her Hallmark Health System physician, who embraced it immediately and made the proper arrangements to follow the new approach for Friedrich’s C-section. On May 24, 2013, Friedrich’s daughter Madeleine was born and she got to experience every second of it.

“Being able to see our daughter being born was absolutely amazing,” she said. “I have never experienced anything like it in my life. It was such a rush. I joked with my husband that we have to have another baby just to experience that feeling again.”

'Nothing tastes better than thin'

A commercial on the radio was the first step toward changing Elaine Baer’s life. The Danvers resident heard an advertisement for the Hallmark Health System Center for Weight Management and Weight Loss Surgery and called to make an appointment. The rest, as they say, is history.

“I was thin my whole life until I had kids,” said Baer, 55. “Once the kids came around the pounds did as well.”

Baer’s weight gain took a toll on all aspects of her life. She couldn’t roll over in bed without getting out of breath, her marriage was failing and she felt awful about herself all the time. In essence, being overweight was ruining Baer’s life.

“That was just so not me,” she said. “I was so disgusted with myself and ashamed I let it get that bad.”

Baer attended one of the Center’s information sessions and met its director, Andras Sandor, MD. She made an appointment with him and after discussing her options, decided to go forward with laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery.

It’s been almost two years and Baer’s life has completely changed. She has lost approximately 100 pounds and has a ton of energy. And Baer credits the Center for all of her success.

“I cannot say enough about Dr. Sandor and his staff,” she said. “They changed my life.”

Baer no longer has food cravings and her eating habits have completely changed. She is happy with the progress she’s made and will use the tools the Center gave her to maintain a healthy weight.  

“Nothing tastes better than thin,” said Baer. “I never want to go back.”

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