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Our Patients Say It Best


Your friends and neighbors from throughout southwest Michigan and beyond share their experiences at Lakeland Health. Do you have a story to share? Click on the "What's Your Story" button and complete the form. 

Off the Rack Share
Thomas Stevens

Jul, 2016

Physicians: Michael Schuhknecht, DO

Thomas Stevens, 62, a Benton Harbor resident, has been married for 42 years. He and his wife Mary raised five children, and are the proud grandparents of eight. From the outside it may have seemed like he had it all together, however, there was one thing holding Thomas back — his weight.

As a child, Thomas was full of energy. He loved spending time outside in the garden with his dad learning how to care for plants and flowers. This was a hobby he continued later into life until his weight began slowing him down. Over the years, work and caring for his family contributed to Thomas losing sight of his own wellbeing. Everyday chores and activities became increasingly difficult. He also struggled with sleep apnea, a breathing disorder characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. Sleep apnea is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition.  Paired with obesity, it becomes increasingly more dangerous.

“I was unable to do the things I had always done,” said Thomas. “I would have to stop and take breaks while mowing the lawn — that was when I knew I needed to make a change.”

Thomas had tried various diets and weight loss programs, but always ended up falling back into his old habits. However, this time was different. He was motivated to make a more permanent change. Thomas started walking every morning around his neighborhood, and in the process lost 50 pounds. He then heard about the Lakeland Comprehensive Weight Loss Center in Niles and decided to make an appointment with bariatric surgeon, Michael Schuhknecht, DO.

 “Dr. Schuhknecht allowed me to express my feelings and thoughts, and didn’t try to persuade me one way or the other,” said Thomas. “The key to weight loss success is to have a doctor who listens to your wants and needs. Dr. Schuhknecht does exactly that.”

It’s been three and a half years since Thomas’ surgery and he is still experiencing the benefits. To date he has lost 169 pounds, and dropped ten pant sizes, and no longer suffers from sleep apnea. He walks six miles every day, has significantly changed his eating habits, works in the yard with ease, and has found he now enjoys another hobby — shopping.

“Before my surgery I had to buy all my clothes online because the stores didn’t carry my size,” said Thomas. “Now I am able to walk into any store and buy something right off the rack. I feel better about myself thanks to Dr. Schuhknecht and the staff at the Weight Loss Center —they changed my life.”

Thomas’ weight loss journey has not only changed his life, but had an impact on his family’s as well, inspiring and motivating his wife and children to also live healthier lives.

“I have never once regretted having surgery,” said Thomas. “I would encourage anyone struggling with their weight to see if it’s the right option for them.”

Hear Thomas share more of his inspiring weight loss journey in the video below: 

Interested in learning more about weight loss surgery? Call the Lakeland Comprehensive Weight Loss Center at (269) 687-4673, to set up an appointment to discuss your options.