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Patient Stories

Shannon Ryan. Clothing Store Manager. Cub Scout Den Mother. Water Slide Enthusiast.

Shannon Ryan has a bucket list and is slowly turning her dreams and desires into reality. Some of the items on her list seem fairly straightforward—like riding all of the water slides at Great Wolf Lodge—until she explains that, until recently, she exceeded the weight limit for almost all of the rides.

Since undergoing weight loss surgery at North Shore Medical Center in June 2015, Shannon has lost over 130 pounds and is continually amazed at all the things she is able to do and experience. For the Amesbury native, being able to keep up with her two young sons, ages five and seven, has been one of the best things about her transformation. “Just being able to be super active with my boys has been great. I’m a den leader for my son’s Cub Scout troop. We did a hike recently which was something I wasn’t able to do even a year ago.” A recent roller skating expedition with her boys is another highlight of her new life. “Before I would sit on the sidelines and hold everyone’s coats,” she explains with a laugh.

The decision to undergo the sleeve gastrectomy procedure did not happen overnight for Shannon. In February of 2015, a friend underwent weight loss surgery at NSMC and encouraged Shannon to look into the program, but, as Shannon put it, “I wasn’t ready.” The following month, when Shannon turned 35, she realized she needed to do something about the excess weight she was carrying around, especially because her primary care doctor had indicated she was borderline diabetic. As a first step, Shannon met with Dr. Bernard Benedetto, former Co-Medical Director of the Weight Management Program. “He was positive, very personable, and was able to answer my questions in layman’s terms. He gave me the confidence to go ahead.”

NSMC’s support of its weight loss patients extends far beyond surgery. In fact, post-surgery, patients are required to follow up with NSMC’s Health and Wellness staff once a month for a year, and then every other month for the second year. In Shannon’s case and for most patients, this involves weigh-ins and blood tests, while the nutritionist offers guidance on healthy eating. Shannon credits this high level of support from NSMC, along with additional support from friends and family, as keys to her success.


While Shannon knew she would enjoy significant medical benefits and increased energy after undergoing weight loss surgery, she did not anticipate the extent to which it has positively affected her mental health. “It’s amazing how people around me have seen the transformation not just physically, but mentally,” she says. Having struggled with depression since college, Shannon is thrilled with how the weight loss has improved her mood, stating simply, “I smile more, and I’m a much more positive person.”


So what else is on Shannon Ryan’s weight loss bucket list? In March 2016—only nine months after her surgery—she ran her first-ever 5K road race. Next up is a plane trip to Florida with her family. Air travel was something Shannon avoided for years, not from fear of flying, but because she was too large for a standard airplane seat. All that has changed. Shannon is now ready for takeoff.



NSMC’s Surgical Weight Loss Program is now offering free information sessions at NSMC Salem Hospital and the Mass General/North Shore Center for Outpatient Care in Danvers. These sessions offer a great opportunity to learn more about weight loss surgery options and ask questions. Register online at or call us at 978-825-6505.