Buffalo, New York
When many people think of taking action, they think of large-scale efforts which bring national change. Sometimes we forget that change is needed in our own communities – or, in Vu’s case, in the individual lives of everyday people.
Vu Pham works as the Office Manager for Trinity Bariatric Surgery, Buffalo’s Weight Loss Surgical Solution. What’s his favorite part of his job? He’s a BSCI-certified Support Group Facilitator for a patient support group that meets three times a month and is filled with amazing fighters walking this journey together. Read more about Vu’s story and advocacy!
Q: How are you connected to obesity?
I struggled with obesity and am ashamed to admit that I had found unhealthy ways to deal and cope. I interact with youth frequently and want to make sure they are empowered to make healthy decisions regarding excess weight. I’m inspired by patients I meet that have chosen to stand up and do something about their lives for themselves, their communities and their world around them.
Q: As an Office Manager for a Bariatric Surgery Facility, you get to interact with a lot of patients affected by obesity. What are some of the most common concerns/barriers you see experienced by others?
I’ve seen the gamut: denial that the problem exists, shame in asking for help, lack of knowledge about available options, fear of change and general negativity from the public. There are two that really stand out to me, though.
I still get fired up when people think of bariatric surgery as “cheating.” The surgery is a tool, and only part of the life change that needs to happen to be successful. Any patient will tell you that it’s hard work – not just getting to surgery, but continuing to make the right decision every day, every moment.
The other misconception that breaks my heart is the belief that “I got into this mess on my own; I don’t deserve help getting myself out of it.” You are NOT alone! It’s true – each person is at the forefront of their journey. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do it together!
Q: You play an active role in the OAC, and have referred many individuals to our organization. What value do you find in becoming an OAC member and connecting further?
The magazines and newsletters are fantastic – always filled with empowering information and topics I use to pass on to our support groups. It also feels great to be a part of such a worthwhile cause that is fighting the good fight in arenas where we are underrepresented or misinterpreted before, such as on Capitol Hill or in Hollywood.
Q: You’re also an active Your Weight Matters National Convention attendee. What would you say to someone who has never experienced and OAC Annual Convention before?
Don’t think twice about it. Just go! It’s a Convention full of the best friends you haven’t met yet, and it’s impossible to walk away without feeling so uplifted, so knowledgeable, and so empowered to make a difference in your life and in others!
Q: The OAC works to educate, advocate for and support individuals affected by obesity. What aspect of our mission do you find the most important and why?
Education! It’s paramount that we break down the walls of ignorance and empower people with evidence-based knowledge. We must do this in the lives of individuals, but also in the general public. Knowledge is power!