Terry Tigner knew she needed to lose weight, but weight loss surgery was not part of her plan. She had dipped her toe in at a Q&A session regarding weight loss surgery at a medical facility years ago. But the process seemed “too clinical.”
She left determined to lose the weight on her own. “I couldn’t connect,” she explains.
But health risks, including type 2 diabetes, were mounting. Years of playing tennis led to arthritis in her knees and other joints. Her doctor said she would need a knee replacement. But first, she needed to lose 40 pounds.
“There are a lot of things that keep people from having bariatric surgery, but the truth of the matter is, I was just stubborn,” admits Tigner. “And I really believed with all my heart that I should be able to do this by myself.”
She pauses. “And I couldn’t.”
A Source of Inspiration
In 2016, Tigner’s son, Chuck Tigner, was engaged to marry his longtime girlfriend, Angela Taylor, when a severe illness took hold of his life. “She was so good for him,” reflects Tigner on her son’s relationship with Taylor. “She quickly became one of us. We became very close.”
Throughout Chuck’s illness and his untimely death, Tigner and Taylor formed a deep bond that remains strong. “Angela and I are very much alike. She could surely be my daughter. We are fast and great friends because we are so much alike.”
So when Taylor decided to undergo weight loss surgery, Tigner became her support. “I can understand her issues because we had the same thing. She was a foodie. And good food means a lot.”
From Southern Living to Simple Food
Tigner and Taylor both grew up with the southern tradition of cooking, best surmised by old adages like “butter makes it better.” Tigner remembers her southern upbringing as being centered around the dining table.
“That becomes a huge part of who you are and what you do and how you celebrate. How you respond to almost anything.”
Tigner supported Taylor through her weight loss journey by learning to cook and appreciate simple foods again. “She still talks about the squash soup I made for her when she could finally have soft foods!”
Serving as a cheerleader and source of inspiration during Taylor’s surgery and recovery, Tigner soon discovered that inspiration works both ways. Tigner had, once again, become inspired to consider weight loss surgery, urged by Taylor’s positive experience at UVA.
A Procedure that Inspires Others
It’s not the first time Peter Hallowell, MD, has seen a bariatric candidate who was inspired by a friend or family member. “We do see that fairly frequently,” says Hallowell. “Somebody will make the decision to have bariatric surgery, and the metamorphosis, the change, that they go through inspires people all around them.”
Once Tigner visited the staff at the UVA Metabolic and Bariatric Clinic, her stubbornness disappeared. “Peter Hallowell, Libby Rexrode, that whole team is amazing.”
“It’s hard for anyone to understand just how marvelous it is until you experience it,” she says. “I just knew that these were good people and they wanted what was good for me.”
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Persevering with Support, Healthier and Happier
“I had been through some pretty awful places, mentally, physically even,” reflects Tigner on life before weight loss surgery – a journey of hardship, strong friendship and inconceivable loss.
With Taylor’s support and the support of the UVA bariatrics team, she has arrived at a place where she feels better than she’s felt in 30 years.
“My husband cannot stop smiling at me,” she beams. “He just recognizes how good I feel.”
Watch Tigner’s story below.