The Rocky Road to Happiness

Teresa Acanda

For years, Teresa Acanda was known as “the chubby girl.”

“In high school I walked to class every day,” she recalled. “I played sports and danced to help me lose weight, but I was never truly skinny.”

Teresa arrived in Miami 30 years ago from New Jersey. She graduated college with a marketing and culinary degree to pursue her dream in the food service industry, but once she got pregnant with her daughter, she gained 60 pounds, and found that getting back to her previous weight was a daunting task.

“A few months after my pregnancy, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, and along came even more weight,” she said.

Knowing she needed to provide for her family, Teresa pressed on, and began working at her dream job in food sales, representing dozens of food service manufacturers. The dream, however, came at a cost.

“While working, I gained another 70 pounds and I started feeling terrible,” she added. “I was depressed, anxious, had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, and constant fatigue. I tried every diet, but I was a yo-yo.”

Teresa’s troubles only continued to worsen, as she was eventually diagnosed with cervical cancer. As a result, the scale kept ticking upward, and she ballooned to her heaviest weight of 273 pounds.

“I hated myself, and I hated life,” said Teresa. “I didn’t want to go anywhere, and I always hated looking in the mirror … It was even putting my marriage in jeopardy.”

That’s when Teresa decided to act. She researched bariatric surgery for about a year, learning about different procedures and meeting with surgeons. After meeting with the specialists at the Gastric Sleeve Center at Jackson South Community Hospital, she decided on gastric sleeve surgery.

“It was the best decision of my life!” she said.

Teresa lost more than 100 pounds and says she’s in the best health of her life.

“I feel great. The staff and doctors at Jackson South Community Hospital are amazing! Dr. Jacobs and his staff saved my life, and my marriage.”

With a new perspective and appreciation for life, Teresa is now making it a personal mission to help others who struggle with weight gain.

“I started a support group on Facebook for everyone who’s had bariatric surgery, as well as for anyone interested in the procedure. We share recipes and motivate each other to stay on track.”

And Teresa says, despite the tasty temptations that come with her job, she doesn’t plan on going back to her old self.

“I still have my dream job, but I will never be ‘the chubby girl’ again. Life is great!”

Learn more about Jackson South’s full-service bariatric programs, including gastric sleeve and gastric bypass.