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Western Pennsylvania Bariatric Institute is part of Conemaugh Physician Group. Read more.

Bethany's Story

‘They made me a believer; I’ll never look back’

Bethany before

Not too many vacations ago, it was a severe chore for Bethany Cotchen to walk back and forth from the beach.

But no longer. Not after she has dropped from 250 pounds to 210 pounds thanks to her work with the Conemaugh Health System’s Bariatric and Weight Loss Center.

“I’m thrilled. In June I was buzzing back and forth at least four or five times a day to the beach. I’m no longer out of breath all the time. And it really felt great getting into a swimsuit that’s at least two sizes smaller,” said Bethany, 49, of Bedford. “I’m just so much happier, healthier and thankful.

“Not only have I lost a lot of weight – without surgery – but my triglycerides are down, and so is my cholesterol and A1C. And my fasting blood sugar is lower than ever. I’d love to get off the diabetes medication and now that’s a realistic goal.

“I sleep a lot better, and my energy level now is just amazing. My husband and our two teenagers are so proud of me. They say I look great, and it makes me feel so good.”

About 15 years ago, she underwent gastric band (“lap-band”) surgery at another well-known medical center. “But it never really worked. I became extremely disappointed, discouraged and ready to give up,” Bethany said.

But then a friend told her about the Conemaugh Bariatrics and Weight Loss team.

“Dr. (D’Arcy) Duke removed the lap-band for me about five years ago. I started sorting out my options and the Conemaugh team told me about the weekly Wegovy® shot. It has been tremendous and has changed my life,” Bethany said.

“I've tried everything, took other medications, and have done Weight Watchers my whole life. It is just hard for me to stick with something. But this really works.”

Conemaugh’s Bariatric and Weight Loss team “feels like family to me,” she said. “I feel like their only patient.

Bethany with doctor

“Jessica Custer (a practitioner with the team) is simply wonderful,” Bethany said.

“I became super committed after talking with her and the staff. They understand how people are upset and discouraged about being overweight, and the life-long battle it involves.

“I’m still a work in progress and want to lose another 40 pounds. But they’ve made me a believer and I’m never going to look back.”

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