What a difference a year makes

Janell Lauria recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of her weight-loss surgery. She took the day off and spent time with her mother in Boston, looking back over her journey and marveling at how far she has come. One year and 100 pounds later, Lauria is looking and feeling better than ever.

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Lauria, 28, always struggled with her weight. The ups and downs really took a toll on her self-esteem, and eventually she found herself depressed.

“Weight Watchers, Atkins, SlimFast. You name it, I tried it,” said Lauria. “If I ate salad I would gain weight. Nothing worked.”

The turning point came at Lauria’s physical when she recorded her highest weight yet. Her doctor explained that she was on track to be 300 pounds by the time she was age 30.

“Being that weight really scared me,” said Lauria. “It was then and there that I started looking more seriously at surgery and decided I needed to change my life.”

Lauria called the Hallmark Health Center for Weight Management and Weight-Loss Surgery, and for six months, she worked with the center’s team to prepare for sleeve gastrectomy surgery with Jennifer Lane, MD.

“I cannot believe where I was before and where I am now,” said Lauria. “My whole mindset has changed.”

Lauria now exercises several times a week, taking Zumba, barre and belly dancing classes as well as running. Her goal is to work up to running a 5K.

Lauria is also enjoying buying new clothes for her slimmer build and says she has the credit card bills to prove it! She has more confidence and has started dating – something she has never done before.

“I feel so much better emotionally and physically,” said Lauria. “I wore a bikini for the first time in my life last summer. It was amazing!”

Lauria is thankful for the support she received and continues to receive from Hallmark Health. She attends the center’s monthly support group and is active on social media, too.

“Everyone is really great and supportive,” said Lauria. “This program, compared to others, really prepares you for what’s going to happen. It was all done the right way.”


There is no guarantee of results. Results may vary.

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.”


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.”

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.”

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! 

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