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Five Friends Support Each Other(2)

Weight Loss - Bus Ladies


At one time, Bobbie Long, Kathy Taylor, Val Strong, Renee Tarbell and Karen McGean (left to right) weighed, collectively, 1,300 pounds. Thanks to the Crouse Hospital Bariatric Surgeons Jeffrey DeSimone, MD, and Kenneth Cooper, DO, they are now down almost 500 pounds among them.

After struggling for years to lose weight using one diet program after another, the women each came to their own conclusion that weight-loss surgery was the answer. Often they’d try to lose weight at the same time. Since they’ve worked together as school bus drivers for years and have become close friends, it seemed to make sense.

“We tried everything,” says Bobbie Long (far left), the first of the five to have gastric bypass surgery in October 2011, a month after her husband, 93Q morning host Ted Long, had become Crouse’s first bariatric patient. “We thought it was a good idea to take this journey as a couple,” adds Bobbie, down 90 pounds, with Ted having trimmed 140 off his tall frame. Besides looking better, the Long’s feel better, too: Due to their weight loss, they are off treatments once used to control high blood pressure, high cholesterol and sleep apnea.

Karen McGean was the second to have a bariatric procedure at Crouse, in May 2012. She weighed 235 pre-surgery, and has shed 75 pounds. Like many women, Karen saw her weight continually increase as she had children and decided it was time to lose the excess pounds for good.

Next up was Kathy Taylor. While she also wanted to cut numbers off her 286 total poundage, she hoped her loss following the sleeve procedure would motivate her granddaughter, Morgan, to follow in her footsteps, as indeed it has. Kathy is down more than 86 pounds, feels great and is Morgan’s role model and support having haD her own bariatric surgery last October.

Last fall, the final two of the five women joined their friends as graduates of the Crouse program. Val Strong, so far, has trimmed 61 pounds off her 298-pound pre-surgery weight, and Renee Tarbell, once 247 on the scale, is down more than 41 pounds as she continues the quest to her optimum weight and BMI.

Dramatic weight loss typically follows bariatric surgery, but it is not, as the five women will attest, what many call “the easy way out.” According to Bobbie, weight-loss surgery patients have to completely “re-learn” when, what and how much to eat. According to Drs.DeSimone and Cooper, bariatric patients must commit to not merely a diet, but a lifestyle change for life.

When asked what has kept them going, Bobbie, Karen, Kathy, Val and Renee are in complete agreement: support. “It’s great seeing the weight come off,” says Karen, “but it doesn’t continue to happen without discipline and strength. That’s where the support of family and friends comes in.” Each day at work and after hours, the five share tips for shopping, cooking and dealing with emotions and challenging situations. They also take advantage of Crouse’s ongoing Bariatric Support Group by attending each month. “We meet others who are dealing with the same issues we are, plus we receive advice and education from Crouse experts,” adds Kathy.

Would the five friends encourage others to take the weight-loss journey together? “Absolutely,” they say, citing safety in numbers and the added benefit of being able to share clothes as each other’s weight decreases!


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