140 pounds ago I was a food addict

Surgical Weight Loss

“Hi, my name is Queen. I am a food addict. I am in the recovery process. I’m doing well, but I have a long way to go.”

This is how Frances Fooks introduces herself. Fooks has always struggled with her weight. She recalls being picked on as a child because of her size. But she always put on a good face and maintained a positive body image.

Fooks is a mother of five with a full plate. She always put everyone else first. But for the first time in a long time, she made a commitment to herself. Fooks, who prefers to go by “Queen,” was more than 300 pounds at her highest. She isn’t shy about sharing her weight because it shows how far she has come, and how many lasting changes she has made.

“I’ve been a single mom for years. I always put my kids first. I still do in many ways,” said Fooks. “But I finally reached a point when I knew I had to make myself a priority.”

In February 2015, Fooks began the journey of exploring weight-loss surgery. She met with Patty Deer at Bayhealth’s Bariatric Program and with Thomas Barnett, MD, a bariatric surgeon. That’s when Fooks overhauled her eating and exercise habits. Fooks was asked to lose 16 pounds prior to surgery. By the time that day came in July, Fooks had dropped more than 50 pounds.

“I thought about getting surgery about ten years ago. But I wasn’t confident that I could make the life changes I really needed to,” said Fooks. “When I lost more than 50 pounds before surgery, I knew I was ready.”

The transformation started with walks at the old Blue Hen Mall. In the beginning, Fooks could only walk for a few minutes at a time. Before long, she was improving her endurance and was walking more than three miles a day, several days a week.

After surgery, Fooks lost nearly 100 pounds. In total, she’s down roughly 140 pounds, and says it’s still a work in progress. Fooks credits her medical team for supporting her when she needed it most. “The medical team kept me encouraged. It wasn’t always easy, but I was always determined,” said Fooks.

“Frances had the absolute right mindset when approaching her journey. She was doing this for her health and well-being,” said Deer. Fooks’ surgeon echoes those sentiments. “Ms. Fooks has changed her entire life,” said Dr. Barnett. “It has been an honor and a pleasure to be part of her journey. She has been an inspiration to many of my patients.”

Fooks also credits her children for giving her motivation and support to be successful. “With my kids and my family watching, I know I need to set an example. My children are a big part of this process. We have all made changes to be healthier. And we’re stronger because of it,” said Fooks. “I take pride in this journey; I am committed to making this a lifelong change.”

Fooks is now an advocate for others considering weight-loss surgery. She often speaks at seminars and is open and honest about her journey.

“Frances has a smile that can light up a room and she has a personality that can help to inspire and influence others,” said Deer. “For those who have been where she has been, she can speak from experience and give those who have ‘tried it all’ the hope they need to give it another try.”

Fooks is very mindful of her past. “Food addiction is very dangerous. I think of it as though I am in recovery. I need to be very careful; I don’t want to fall into it again,” said Fooks.

“While I try not to focus on the number, sometimes it’s just surreal to think about how much weight I have lost,” said Fooks. “Never in my life did I think I would lose 140 pounds. This has been such a fabulous journey. If I can do it, you can too. That’s my message. It’s never too late to start fresh.”

Visit bayhealth.org/weightloss to learn more about weight-loss surgery at Bayhealth. To find a Bayhealth physician to fit your family’s needs, call 1-866-Bay-Docs to learn about providers in your area.