By Michelle Vicari, OAC Chairwoman
A little over 12 years ago, I found myself alone, crying in my car after opening the mail. I had been referred for bariatric surgery by my doctor who said that it might help alleviate some of the obesity-related health issues I was dealing with. I had severe GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) and Sleep Apnea, and my blood pressure was being regulated by some of the eight medical prescriptions I was on. After discussing and researching options with my doctor, I decided to move forward with seeking surgical treatment for my obesity.
A few weeks after submitting my paperwork, there I was – sobbing in a parked car, staring at a denial letter from my insurance company. I gave myself one night of sadness, and then I got angry and went about seeking answers.
Why, if there was a treatment suggested by my doctor, was my insurance company stopping me from utilizing it? What next steps could I take? Could I appeal? I wanted a sample letter or a path to take. Google brought me to the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC).
I continued to visit the OAC Web site over the years and each time found another great article or educational resource. One day, I heard the OAC was hosting an event where members could join together – the Annual Your Weight Matters National Convention. The first one was being held in Dallas, TX, and I knew I had to attend. I had to share with others how much the OAC had helped me over the years. I made the trip from California to Texas that year. I am so glad I did. It was a life-changing experience to make those connections with other members – people from all backgrounds, experiences and motivations. The weekend was full of learning, inspiration and fun. It truly fed my soul. I was not alone.
At the end of the weekend, I did feel a little like a kid leaving summer camp. I wanted more. I wanted to learn more about my health and weight. I wanted to continue the great conversations with other members, hear their stories and share mine. I wanted to help take action on all the great initiatives and projects the OAC was working on.
Now, the new OAC Community is born and with it comes more opportunities to connect beyond that one amazing weekend of the year. The new OAC Community offers multiple opportunities to:
- Get Educated on the latest evidence-based information about obesity
- Find Support through ongoing education about weight and health
- Connect with others who share similar concerns and journeys
- Take Action to help the OAC change the world for individuals with obesity
I invite you to log-on to obesityaction.org and become a part of this amazing community. I also hope to see you at this year’s 2018 Your Weight Matters National Convention in Denver, CO July 19-22.
About Michelle Vicari:
Michelle “Shelly” Vicari is a 12-year postoperative gastric bypass patient, maintaining her 150+ pound weight-loss. Ms. Vicari is well known for her popular blog and Facebook page, “The World According to Eggface,” where she shares her weight-loss journey and supports individuals on theirs. Ms. Vicari’s healthy recipes and post bariatric surgery lifestyle tips have been featured on television, in magazines and in numerous hospital newsletters and Web sites. After being denied bariatric surgery, Ms. Vicari found her way to the OAC Community and began serving in a variety of capacities to help in the fight for access to care and against weight bias. She is currently the Chairwoman of the OAC National Board of Directors.