We all experience different struggles in life, but we can use those experiences to connect to others and drive change where change is needed. That’s what fuels Jaime Fivecoat, MBA, former OAC Board Member and active OAC volunteer, in her decades-long journey with patient advocacy. Learn more about Jaime below and all the challenging yet incredible work she is doing to make the world a better place for others.
An Advocate Who Wears Many Hats
When speaking with Jaime, you can immediately sense her passion for people. Though she is relatively soft-spoken, the intonation in her voice shows the love she has for others. She is selfless, thoughtful and uniquely intelligent – and she uses these superpowers to stand up for change in various marginalized communities, including people living with obesity.
Jaime volunteers for five organizations. She volunteers for the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), is as a Director and Secretary for Upstate Pride SC (UPSC) for the LGBTQ+ community, facilitates SMART Recovery meetings for those dealing with any form of addiction, is a member of the GHS Clinical University Patient Engagement Studio, works on projects with Gender Benders – a transgender support group in South Carolina – and speaks regularly at medical schools and universities.
In her volunteer work with the OAC specifically, Jaime’s roles as an advocate have touched many areas. She was the OAC’s first-ever Chair of the Board of Directors and helped spearhead many of the programs and practices in place today. Jaime is now a Director Emeritus and actively participates in various OAC projects and initiatives. She has also served on many OAC working committees, including the Access to Care Committee, Membership Committee, Long-range Planning Committee, the Your Weight Matters Convention Planning and Welcome Committees, and the Inclusivity and Diversity Task Force.
Leaning On Her Experiences to Drive Change
Jaime’s passion for advocacy comes from her personal experiences as someone who is affected by obesity and is no stranger to bias and stigma, which also exist in the LGBTQ+ community. Having had bariatric surgery in 2003, she’s especially passionate about access to care and opening doors for others to seek treatment if they choose to do so.
You can learn more about Jaime’s personal story on WeightoftheWorld.com, the OAC’s story-sharing platform. Earlier this month, she was also featured in an OAC “Fresh Perspectives” video about the intersection of obesity and LGBTQ+ advocacy.
The Importance of Mental Health Support
Most recently, Jaime joined the OAC’s newly formed Mental Health Committee, where she will work alongside other patient advocates to provide mental health solutions and resources for people affected by obesity.
When asked how mental health has played a role in her own journey, Jaime responded, “As a patient and advocate, the mental health aspect of my treatment plan was a very important part of managing my obesity, recovery from addiction, and gender transition. I struggled with weight issues for about 50 years. I tried many diets and treatment plans to help. Some worked for a while, some not so much. In 2003, I decided to have the Roux-en-Y (RYGB) Gastric Bypass surgery, and I was fortunate to have great counseling and education both before and after surgery as part of the overall process. Since my surgery, I’ve done counseling for other major changes in my life. It takes a team of healthcare providers to treat many issues and stay on top of your health, and a mental health counselor has been a major part of mine.
Jaime also says, “Any major change in our lives can be supported by attending to our mental health. For those of us treating our obesity, we may experience changes in our relationships with friends and family, while at the same time changing established habits and behaviors around food. Our social interactions may look different, and we may struggle with dysmorphia or negative body image issues. Working with a qualified counselor can help you navigate and manage these changes more effectively.”
Empowered to Empower Others
Jaime’s work as an advocate falls nothing short of remarkable, as her passion for patient advocacy has empowered hundreds, if not thousands, of people in her pursuit for equality, equity and respect for individuals of all sizes, genders, races and orientations. It isn’t easy to get up every day and fight against the bias and stigma that are so ingrained in our society. Thank you, Jaime, for all you do for the OAC and others!
Do You Want to Share Your Story?
Whether you have a story about navigating obesity, facing weight stigma, or inspiring others, your voice is important. Visit the OAC’s story project at WeightoftheWorld.com to share yours today. Not sure what to say? Consider one of our question prompts to guide you.
If you would like your story to be featured in a future issue of Weight Matters Magazine, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.