Why I Give to the OAC — and Why Others Should As Well

I am often asked why I became a bariatric nurse, and I always remember with clarity how I fell in love with my specialty.

I was in a new position as a PACU (recovery room) nurse, and part of my responsibility was to conduct pre-operation visits with patients who were having bariatric surgery the following day. I was humbled by their honesty, bravery and clarity in their commitment to conquer their threatening enemy — the disease of obesity — once and for all. These patients looked forward to the day with anticipation because they wanted their health burden to be lifted.

These patients became my teachers as I began my career in bariatrics. From that point on, the disease of obesity and its cascade of associated illnesses began my professional and personal focus, and obesity became my enemy too.

There are 93 million individuals affected by obesity in the U.S., yet discrimination and bias remain throughout our society, even among healthcare professionals. In the United States, we diagnose two million new cases of type 2 diabetes every year. The vast majority of these individuals also suffer from obesity. It’s estimated that one out of every three individuals born in the year 2000 will become diabetic within their lifetime.

It’s appalling, right? Obesity is a healthcare epidemic, yet it is grossly underfunded in research, limited in healthcare treatment coverage and limited in the education on this disease in our healthcare provider’s education.

So where does that leave those affected by this disease?

The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) began — and remains deeply rooted — in its unwavering mission to be dedicated to improving the lives of those affected by obesity. Its influence and impact in social, political and medical communities is being recognized and appreciated. The OAC’s impact is undeniable.

So to answer the question: Why do I give to the OAC?

I continue to give because today the OAC:

    • Has embraced, supported and empowered individuals to find the best treatment of their disease without shame.
    • Has remained fiscally responsible, which allows them to continue to develop more tools, strategies and influence to continue the momentum of access, education and advocacy.
    • Attacks bullying head-on and today, one less child won’t be bullied for their weight because of this effort.
    • Fosters support and education at their annual patient convention, the Your Weight Matters National Convention, a meeting truly like no other.
    • Has helped more individuals gain access to medical care to treat the disease of obesity through advocacy strategies and perseverance.

Those are some of the reasons I give but there is so much more needed to continue these successful efforts.

I give because the OAC has accomplished so much and improved so many individuals’ overall lives and health — and there’s so much more to accomplish. We need your name on our membership list, and your donations and other contributions to continue this mission. Let’s face it — money is a powerful weapon and the number of members translates into voices that elected officials hear loud and clear.

Let’s scream together. Donate today — not tomorrow — today!

About the Author:

Tracy Martinez, RN, BSN, CBN, is a certified bariatric nurse and Program Director at Wittgrove Bariatric Center in La Jolla, Calif. She is a  past-president of the Integrated Health section of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Ms. Martinez is a member of the OAC National Board of Directors and an avid animal lover and advocate.

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