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Safe and Healthy Me — Stories from Alaskans

Molly's Story

Molly has a personal story that goes like this: Diagnosed with diabetes. Lost a large amount of weight. Diagnosed with cancer. Lost weight again.

Molly admits there are times when she doesn’t feel like a success story, because she’s not where she wants to be yet. But looking at the path she’s committed to is a reminder of what preventing and treating chronic disease is all about: making changes, bit by bit, that eventually lead to better health.

“I feel like I am on track,” she said. “I feel like I am on my way to my goal."

Molly, now in her 40s, received her first gift in 2010 – a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. She calls it a gift because it jump-started a dedicated effort to lose weight. She had put on weight after she had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes during the pregnancy with her daughter, now 10 years old. By the time she was diagnosed with diabetes, Molly was frustrated.

“I was obese,” she said. “I couldn’t lose the weight no matter what I did. I had been struggling for years. I felt physically horrible.”

“I was depressed about the weight and my inability to master it.”

She went to a doctor who focuses on diabetes management and learned what behavior changes she needed to make. Her health goals became her priority. She changed her diet. She also started walking.

“The better I felt, the more I exercised, the more I exercised, the stronger I got.”

“When I first started out, I was just walking for 10 minutes,” she said. “I figured I could do anything for 10 minutes. And I would build on that.”

Molly got to the point where she would walk during her lunch break and again at night, sometimes walking up to two hours a day. She climbed Flattop in Anchorage several times a week. She added in other activities, too, like bike riding with her daughter.

“The better I felt, the more I exercised,” she said. “The more I exercised, the stronger I got.”

Molly lost 100 pounds in two years. Then, she got an unexpected new diagnosis: breast cancer.

She had scheduled a routine annual exam, and a mammogram detected the breast cancer.

Molly began treatment, first surgery, then chemotherapy, followed by radiation. There is no more evidence of disease, but Molly will continue to take medication to try to prevent a cancer recurrence.

During all of that treatment, some of the weight she had lost came back.

This time, Molly knew what to do to lose it. She improved her nutrition by meeting with a specialist who was focused on chronic disease treatments. She attended a support group and leaned on friends who stay positive. She turned her garage into an art studio so see she could focus on one of her passions. She volunteered to help and stay connected with others.

Molly also started walking again. All of this has helped her lose more weight. Now, Molly said, is the time for pulling her life back together.