Healthy You - Every Day

Like Daughter, Like Mother – A Weight-Loss Journey

Bariatric weight-loss success runs in the family

Like many daughters, Amy Hughes followed in her mother’s shoes when it came to a lot of things. This included Jo Ann Miterko’s eating habits, and therefore her weight struggles.

“I began going to Weight Watchers meetings with my mom at 11 years old, and I’ve continued to struggle with my weight ever since,” Hughes says. “I did every diet, every exercise, and nothing would work. Even though I was doing everything that I could do, I was just stuck at that weight. And I just couldn’t get it off.”

Then Hughes became a mom and she realized it wasn’t just her life that was being affected by her weight. Her kids’ lives were, too. “My daughter was growing up and I just wasn’t present for her,” Hughes says. “I was sitting on the couch and missing a lot of everything. I didn’t want to be this mom that can’t play with her kids or be there for them because I’m just too tired to get up. I knew I had to do something.”

Hughes took the first step toward changing her life and turned to the bariatric program at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) for help.

Step in a new direction

Hughes was confident that having bariatric surgery was the right move for her, and the more she learned about LVHN’s bariatric program, the more she thought this could be the right path for her mom too.

“When I decided to have the surgery, I thought it would be a good opportunity for us to do it together so we could help each other through it because we’ve done that my whole life,” Hughes says. “But while my mom was happy for me and supported me, she told me this was my journey and she wasn’t interested.”

“I didn’t think weight-loss surgery was right for me – mainly because of my age,” Miterko says. “I was worried whether this surgery would be safe for me to do. And I thought, I’m almost 70. It doesn’t really matter now. This is just how I’m going to be.”

Hughes continued her bariatric surgery journey solo, but with her mom’s love and support. On Oct. 14, 2021 at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Pocono, Nicolas Teleo, MD, with Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence, performed Hughes’ gastric sleeve, a minimally invasive procedure that removes approximately 80 percent of the stomach, including a section where a hunger-stimulating hormone (ghrelin) is produced.

“There are different types of bariatric surgeries available, and each procedure helps with weight loss in different ways,” Dr. Teleo says. “Gastric sleeve works by reducing the size of your stomach and limits what you can eat, which is a restrictive approach, while gastric bypass surgery combines both restrictive and malabsorption of nutrients from food, leading to weight loss. The ideal weight-loss surgery depends on a person’s health and body type.”

“I would tell anybody who’s thinking about having bariatric surgery that it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. It completely changed not only my life, but my kids’ lives, too.” - Amy Hughes

Following in her footsteps

After Hughes’ surgery, the weight just started falling off. And as it did, Hughes grew noticeably more comfortable in her skin. As Miterko witnessed her daughter’s transformation, her stance on surgery started to change. Then Miterko’s desire to lose weight turned into a necessity when she was told she needed to lose weight in order to have knee replacement surgery.

At 350 pounds, Miterko joined LVHN’s bariatric program. On July 19, 2022, she had robotic-assisted gastric bypass surgery performed by her daughter’s surgeon, Dr. Teleo.

“I was afraid, being 70, it would take a lot longer for me to heal and that recovery would be difficult – but no. Age had nothing to do with it. I had a really easy recovery,” Miterko says.

A new life begins

Hughes lost 123 pounds and gained a world of confidence. “Before the surgery and before losing weight, I was saying no to everything. I didn’t want to do anything and I didn’t want to put myself out there,” Hughes says. “But now I’m putting myself out there. And I think it’s good for my kids to see that confidence.”

Hughes’ kids notice the difference in their mom as well. “I don’t think my kids noticed they had a mom that was heavy, but I think they noticed they had a mom who was sad,” Hughes says. “Before I lost the weight, my kids would ask me to do something with them and I couldn’t. Now I’m asking them to do stuff with me, to go for walks, and they can tell I want to do those things now.

“I would tell anybody who’s thinking about having bariatric surgery that it’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” Hughes says. “It completely changed not only my life, but my kids’ lives, too.”

And her mother’s life was transformed as well. Between being down 150 pounds and her two brand new knees – thanks to James Sunday, MD, with Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute who performed both of her knee replacement surgeries, Miterko feels better than ever and years younger.

“Losing the weight rejuvenates you. That’s what it has done for me – I feel like I’m 16 years old again,” Miterko says. “I have the energy to get up and go out and enjoy life again. And after struggling with my weight for a good 60 years, I can’t put into words how good it feels to be here.”

Byron lost 140 lbs through Bariatric Surgery at Lehigh Valley Health Network.

Weight Loss and Management

Lehigh Valley Health Network’s weight-loss team provides a comprehensive, lifelong approach to wellness and weight management. Our experienced care team, including surgeons, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, registered nurses, registered dietitians and behavioral health specialists, helps you meet your health goals.

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