BARIATRIC SURGERY SUPPORT
For millions of Americans a trip to the doctor’s ofﬁce means facing their obesity. Or not facing it. Martha Hynes, 56, understood that feeling for years and made a brave choice to make health her priority. She turned to Namir Katkhouda, M.D., chief, division of general and laparoscopic surgery at USC University Hospital, director of bariatric surgery and professor of medicine at the Keck School, to help her achieve a total change of lifestyle through gastric bypass surgery.
Now 160 pounds lighter, Hynes credits her regular attendance at support group meetings for helping keep the weight off. Hynes admits she was initially uneasy with the idea of a public group meeting.
“I am a private person, and so many issues surrounding weight are intimate and personal. I spent a long time soul searching to decide how I was going to make my surgery a success,” says Hynes. “I started attending the Bariatric Support Group one month after my surgery. The reassuring staff allowed my trust to build over time, and they didn’t make
me talk until I was ready. Each month about 30 people participate, and we really help each other.”
Katkhouda encourages all his patients to attend, even those who have not yet had surgery. Support is given by guest speakers, who discuss pertinent topics such as exercise, vitamin support, nutrition, psychology and motivation.
According to Katkhouda, “The support group makes patients feel comfortable and keeps them motivated. They realize they are not alone with their weight challenge. They can exchange views and share tips and experiences. This is a life-changing operation, and I want to follow these people for life. By attending the group each month, patients stay connected to our staff and have long-term success. It is also a key component of long-term weight loss.”
BREAST CANCER SUPPORT
The USC Norris Cancer Hospital recently launched a program, consistent with the mission of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, aimed at saving lives through patient support and advocacy. Breast cancer patient attendees beneﬁt from information about treatment innovations, psychosocial support and creative paths to healing.
“It is a variation of support groups in the more traditional manner,” social worker Waters says, explaining the approach. The group, which is co-facilitated by Michele Prince, licensed clinical social worker, “offers a series of workshops that focus on a speciﬁc topic or theme each time. One session may present a lecture by a medical expert, while others offer experiential participation, such as art therapy, creative writing and HealthRHYTHMS drumming.”