Three women running for exercise in a park

Bariatric Surgery and Weight Management Patient Testimonials

Hear stories from real Cooley Dickinson patients

Click on a name to jump to that patient’s story below Charles Peterson  |  Becky Masi  |  Joanne Arroyo  |  Mary Fournier


Mary’s Story: 145 Pounds Lighter After Sleeve Gastrectomy

Mary Fournier shown before and after her Sleeve Gastrectomy

Mary Fournier has worked at Cooley Dickinson Hospital for the better part of 3 decades, primarily in the hospital pharmacy. Even though she was surrounded by generally health-conscious friends and co-workers, she struggled with her weight for, according to her, her “whole adult life.”

She had joined Weight Watchers and tried it on and off for years but without much success or enthusiasm. When she was in her early 20s, through a very restrictive program, she almost got her weight down to her current, post-bariatric surgery weight. But even at that time, she eventually gained all of it back, stuck in a cycle of fairly extreme loss and gain.

Click here to read more of Mary’s story.

Return to top of page 


Joanne Arroyo: Sleeve Gastrectomy Surgery

Joanne Arroyo before and after her sleeve gastrecomy procedure

Springfield resident Joanne Arroyo felt she was taking too many medications and wanted to be healthy. She had been a patient of Ursula McMillian, MD, for a gallbladder removal years before and recalled feeling “safe” with her, so she began seeing her for weight loss treatment at Cooley Dickinson Hospital. In 2022, Joanne decided to undergo a sleeve gastrectomy with Dr. McMillian and felt her experience at Cooley Dickinson’s Bariatric Surgery and Weight Management Program has been great. Joanne is pictured above before and after her surgery.

Return to top of page 


Charles Peterson: Sleeve Gastrectomy Surgery

Weight loss surgery patient Charles Peterson before and after his sleeve gastrectomy bariatric surgery.

Charles Peterson is taking his 11-year-old daughter to Six Flags amusement park for the first time. She’s wanted to go with him for years, and he’s not afraid of the rides; it just hasn’t been possible until now. “Her entire life I’ve never taken her, because I was too big to go on the rides and I knew I didn’t want to embarrass myself. I didn’t want to embarrass her. And so today’s the first day that I can feel comfortable and I’ll be able to go.”

After years of struggle, Charles finally elected to have bariatric weight loss surgery in 2022 through the Cooley Dickinson Bariatric and Weight Management program, under the guidance of bariatric surgeon Ursula McMillian, MD. Following his surgery, Charles has lost 154 pounds and literally looks like a new man.

Click here to read more of Charles’s story 

Return to top of page 


Becky Masi: Sleeve Gastrectomy Surgery

Becky Masi before and after her weight loss.

It’s been nearly eight weeks since Rebecca “Becky” Masi, a busy mom, wife and practice manager at Cooley Dickinson Medical Group, underwent weight loss surgery at Cooley Dickinson Hospital. Since the birth of her first child more than a decade ago, Becky, age 31, has struggled with what she calls “yo-yoing weight.”

In 2009, Becky began working as a receptionist and medical biller at a surgical practice in Springfield. There, she met dozens of patients like her who had embarked on their own weight loss journeys. Some succeeded, others did not.

At the time, Becky thought she could shed the pounds on her own; she tried dieting and medically supervised weight loss. She tried to eat better and exercise.

Yet, her family history of obesity, coupled with her metabolism, hindered her best efforts to lose weight. At her heaviest, Becky weighed 216 pounds. She was discouraged and frustrated.

Wanting to change her habits and lead a healthier life motivated Becky to pursue sleeve gastrectomy surgery. Despite previous setbacks, Becky made a commitment last May to shed 90 pounds from her five-foot frame. Below, Becky tells her story in her own words.

Trying to Go it Alone

For a lot of years, I thought I could lose weight on my own. I tried weight loss medications and exercise; I tried eating better and got more and more discouraged. My genetic make-up, being genetically pre-disposed to obesity and my hormones: all of those things worked against my dieting and exercise efforts and trying to get down to an ideal weight.

Last May, I decided sleeve gastrectomy surgery was going to be my journey to a healthier me. I met with my primary care doctor and bariatric surgeon Dr. McMillian.

You want to default back to your old ways

Over the years, I’ve talked to a lot of patients about weight loss surgery and the journey that goes with it. Some people think this is a lot easier than what it is; I’ve seen patients drop out of the program and fall off. It’s really a mental struggle. You want to default back to your old ways. Subconsciously, it is human nature to revert back to your comfort zone. So, you need to be headstrong, and just make the decision and go full steam ahead.

My outlook on my weight finally changed when I made the decision to have surgery. I knew I was ready to start on this journey! Because I was required to take specific actions, like committing to an exercise routine and losing a specific amount of weight before surgery, I was truly getting into the mindset of weight loss. It is a lifestyle change for sure.

Putting myself first

I had put everyone first but me, but I soon realized that if I put in the work for myself, I would be better for my husband, my kids, and that I’d be a better employee and a better manager to my staff.

Your life will really change. It’s only a short time that you will have the mental struggle. See it through. Your strength will win out. There will be a little bit of time when your diet consists of shakes; you will be able to eat real food again.

Patients think they will be drinking shakes for the rest of their lives, and that they will not be able to eat. After weight loss surgery, you will be eating in moderation, and you will be making better choices of what you eat.

Better choices for a healthier life

Bariatric surgery is just a tool; it’s not the cure-all, fix-all. Making those better choices will lead you into consistently making better choices. And when you do, you are improving your health. You will get through it, and you will be ok!

Return to top of page 

Dr. Ursula McMillian’s Story

For Cooley Dickinson Bariatric Surgeon Ursula McMillian, MD, her work is personal. Her self-described history includes her own personal struggles with weight loss. She is not only an accomplished surgeon but was a patient who underwent weight loss surgery a decade ago, with lasting success. Dr. McMillian has helped hundreds of patients regain their lives through weight loss and lifestyle management.

Dr. Ursula McMillian