It’s so hard for me to decide what to write about sometimes. Usually I have so many ideas that picking one is difficult, tonight though I have one pressing thought in my mind.
This was the title of a blog post by Pam Davis, RN, CBN, Chairman of the OAC Board of Directors. It really got me to thinking. Several months ago I was sitting at a round table with four other women at the OAC Advocacy Training Session where we were taught the basics of advocacy and participated in mock legislative visits. The biggest lesson that I learned that day at was that the power of one person, telling their story, can make a huge difference.
Your voice and your story are the most powerful advocacy tool that you have.
Before attending the OAC Convention in October I had a dream, I wanted to become a personal trainer, go back and work with other pre-op Bariatric surgery patients and help them achieve the same sort of things I did through my weight loss journey. I wanted to help others fight this obesity epidemic. But my dream was a little bigger than that too, humbled and grateful for the insurance coverage that had covered not just my gastric bypass, but three rounds of extensive reconstructive plastic surgeries, I wanted to make sure that I did something to help make sure that other people received those same sorts of benefits, and I wanted to make sure that I somehow helped those less fortunate than I.
I have said before that the OAC Convention was a life changing experience for me. Let me tell you a little bit about my life since October.
Since leaving the OAC Convention in October I have worked on making sure that wherever I go, and whatever I do, I am using my voice and my story to try to make a difference.
This Sunday I embark on a whole new adventure. I’ll be flying to OH on March 3rd to spend some time with Heather’s family. While I am there I will be meeting two women for the first time that have been following my blog and my journey for a while now. I’ll be attempting to hook up with the OAC while I am there, taking a trip into Washington DC and hopefully doing some advocacy work for them. While I am there I have two women that are currently working on losing weight that are committed to running a 5K with me.
Thanks to my time at the OAC Convention, and the people I met there, I’ll be spending the entire month of June in Dallas Texas at the Cooper Institute taking classes to get my Personal Trainers Certification and a few other certifications as well; this was made possible for me by a $600 donation form a blog reader that wanted to help me help others and generously donated the amount I needed to take the CPT Course. More was made possible by the Susan Sterling Scholarship I received from the Cooper Institute for $500 and the rest, well; the universe is looking out for me. I have faith.
Once I get back from the Cooper Institute and have my CPT Certification I am planning on a business Launch in July with a small-scale fundraiser for the WLSFA so that any money we raise goes to helping someone else start this journey.
Since October I’ve had lots of exciting things happen but there was one, which beyond a shadow of a doubt changed all the cards for me. Since last year I have had a sort of pseudo-friendship on Facebook with Celebrity Fitness Trainer Chris Powell. I’ve had several exchanges with him and his wife Heidi Powell on Facebook and it is one of my biggest dreams to meet and work out with them. Recently I posted something on Chris Powell’s Facebook page and some of my friends went in and commented. There were a few comments that just really took my breath away.
“I admire Pandora for all she does to bring us all together and help us be successful. She’s not just in this for herself; she sees the big picture and is doing something about it” – Angie Bulakites
“Pandora is my WLS idol!!! Her amazing determination and willpower inspire me every day to continue on in my personal WLS journey to a healthier and happier life.” – Jessica Dikey – Bariatric Beginings
“I have only met Pandora once in person and heard her talk and ask the right questions and in that one small time frame of our interaction she has impacted my life tremendously. I can only imagine how my life would be if I saw her more often. Everyone she come in contact with whether it be on Facebook, her blog, or conferences and I can only assume in person as well.” – Michelle Mata
“Not only has this woman transformed herself into a fitness inspiration, she is actively helping others make the same journey. I urge you to give her your support. She is moving small mountains.” – Colin Hatcher
But the one that brought tears to my eyes was Heather’s cousin, a woman I have yet to meet:
“Pandora is truly an amazing woman! she doesn’t just inspire WLS peeps. she has been such an inspiration to me and my husband, to the point that we have joined a gym and have completely changed our way of eating. since January 6th, my husband has lost 32 lbs and i have lost 17 lbs my husband has diabetes and sleep apnea, among other health issues and I have battled with my weight my whole life, but there is something real about Pandora that has sparked something in us. I think she has just saved our lives. we, and our 4 daughters thank you for inspiring her!!!” – Jennifer Heredia
In her article Pam tells you “All you need to become an advocate is your personal experience and to feel passionate about the issue. The OAC will help you with the rest.” She couldn’t be more right. Just attending the OAC Convention changed so many things for me and propelled me forward in my goals of helping others and now, there are many people; Some that I met at that Convention. Some that have known me for years and some that have never met me at all, that will tell you that I have made a difference in their life. In fact, some of those very people nominated me for a WEGO Health Activist Award and their judges selected me as a finalist among sites that have to do with all sorts of different sort of health issues. It was never my intention to become an “Advocate” it was just my intention to help make what was a lonely and hard fight a little easier for someone else. It was never my intention to be an “Activist” I just really wanted to help others and continue my WLS Journey through doing so. Pam is right, when you start sharing your story, when you start sharing your personal experiences:
- You will be heard
- You will be appreciated
- You will make a difference
- And you will be an advocate
- And you’ll feel amazing when you see it happen.
There is nothing more rewarding than to know that I have touched people’s lives in the way that I have. The fact that people feel like I bring them together and help them be successful or that I inspire them in their WLS journey and their quest for a happy healthier life or that some people feel I have helped saved their life is amazing to me. It tells me that I am doing something right. I know that the path I am on started at the OAC Advocacy Training Session and that the OAC has empowered me an helped point me in the right direction. If you are not a member of the Obesity Action Coalition I encourage you to join and stand with this national non-profit organization whose sole focused is helping individuals affected by obesity.
93 Million Americans are affected by Obesity and advocacy comes in many forms. Whether you are writing blogs, going to the hill or signing petitions and sending letters to your elected officials you can make a difference in the lives of these people by getting involved in the OAC Advocacy & Support Programs.
“Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget that if there weren’t any need for you in all your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn’t be here in the first place. And never forget, no matter how overwhelming life’s challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person.” – R. Buckminster Fuller
One Person Can Make a Difference Choose To Be That Person