Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Health Scare Inspires Big Weight Loss; How I Did It; Janice Skaggs Lost 170 Pounds after Her Cancer Diagnosis

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Health Scare Inspires Big Weight Loss; How I Did It; Janice Skaggs Lost 170 Pounds after Her Cancer Diagnosis

Article excerpt

Janice Skaggs' voice cracks and tears swell when she recalls how cancer robbed her of ever having children.

"Mother's Day is still a bad time for me," she said.

Three years ago, she contracted endometrial cancer. She had to have a hysterectomy to prevent it from spreading.

She said her doctor told her the cancer was due to her obesity. She weighed around 350 pounds.

It was the most devastating sort of wakeup call, she said. She'd live. She'd be cancer-free. But after 14 years of marriage, she and her husband, James, would be childless. That's when she tears up and her voice gets jerky .

James Skaggs remembers the time. "It was an emotional time for her, for us," he said. "All I could do is give her a shoulder to cry on; just be there for her."

Janice Skaggs' smile and determination return, though, when she explains that being down doesn't mean being out.

If she wasn't healthy for the child, the couple would get healthy for each other. "That was definitely it," said James Skaggs. "We'd live a long life with each other; we have all these nieces and nephews to love."

While discussing weight loss, one book jumped out of the dozens they'd bought and rejected, she said. It was "Think and Grow Thin" by local weight-loss coach Charles D'Angelo.

Something about the book connected with her.

The link was up front: the story of D'Angelo's struggle with obesity. "I saw the loneliness, the isolation," she said. "Things I'd felt."

D'Angelo, in a written reply to questions, said, "Because I once weighed 360 pounds, I can relate with those who find themselves in that same dark place I once was," he said. "For me it's not just words, and (his clients and readers) can feel that. I, too, felt desperate, lonely, lost and stuck in a place I hated. Why couldn't I get out?"

For years, D'Angelo has helped people drop pounds, ranging from people who needed to lose because they wanted to look good for anything from their jobs to political appearance, to people who had a choice between dropping pounds or dying. Clients have included Sen. Claire McCaskill, actress Angela Bassett and others.

"I decided to write my book when I realized the need for my help surpassed the hours I had in the day," he said. "I created a system to help people even while I was sleeping.

"I synthesized my message, my heart and my time-tested strategies into a manual for creating lasting change."

Skaggs said she was taken by the book's dwelling less on what she was eating and more on what was eating her; how to be mentally ready to drop pounds and regain her health.

So before she could heal physically, she said, she had to heal mentally. "This isn't for everyone," she said. "You have to be motivated. You have to want to do it.

"I was motivated. I'm cancer-free, but if obesity could bring about my cancer, could it bring it back?"

AN OUNCE AT A TIME

Janice Skaggs says she's never been small but graduated from high school at a reasonable weight. …

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