Six years ago, Joyce Lewis walked with a cane, led a sedentary lifestyle, and experienced weight-related illnesses. She had hip-replacement and gall-bladder surgery, sleep apnea, increased blood pressure, and she was asthmatic. Both her parents were diabetics, so she expected the disease was in her future, too. Her doctors began to warn that if she didn’t lose weight, she was headed down a serious, life-threatening path.
Her health decline caused her primary care physician and OBGYN to recommend she have gastric bypass surgery. After diligent research she decided to have the surgery done through Dr. Robin Blackstone’s office at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center. After six years, now at age 56, Joyce has lost approximately 140 pounds and is maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
“When you lose the kind of weight I did, you can feel vulnerable and emotional. I had been on so many diets prior to the surgery, I couldn’t help but think I could fail at this, too,” she said. “Through support groups and the professionals on Dr. Blackstone’s team, I found I wasn’t alone. I was amazed at the phenomenal after-care support and information the program offered. I had access to dietary information, behavioral psychologists, dedicated support groups, and more. Most importantly, I always felt I was in a safe and nurtured environment necessary to discover the person I was inside.”
Newly Found Courage
Before the surgery, Joyce felt most comfortable simply watching as her friend took ballroom-dancing lessons. After surgery, she found the courage to take lessons at a North Scottsdale Dance studio. She found she was captivated by the music and the movement, and experienced a joy that she hadn’t felt since childhood.
Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Joyce recalls how the ethnic diversity of the city influenced her life. Walking down her neighborhood street, she could hear the sounds and feel the rhythms of the music, and she could smell the aromatic cuisines of many different cultures. She said her love affair with music and good food began in early childhood.
After conquering her fear to become a ballroom dancer, Joyce found the courage to pursue another passion. With the encouragement of her son, Jay Norris, who is a chef by profession, Joyce has written a cookbook with healthy recipes from various cuisines. The cookbook, titled: “After Weight Loss Surgery, The Belly Roars – How to Tame It,” is written with bariatric patients in mind. “One of the things I’ve learned through my journey is that food is not an enemy to be banished but rather a gift to be handled respectfully,” she said. “I learned if I intensify the taste of my dishes and create visual impact, the entire family enjoys healthy eating.
When others in similar situations ask her advice, she says “It’s important to nurture yourself, tell yourself something positive every day. Keep physically active, dance, walk, whatever. Find something you love and do it.” She also said it’s important to surround yourself with people who love and support you. “I am so grateful I always had my husband’s unconditional love and support,” she said. “He’s an amazing man and I am so fortunate that we have been inseparable for 36 wonderful years.”
For Joyce Lewis, life is no longer a spectator sport. She’s loving – and living -- her life to the fullest. While her goal is not necessarily competitive dance (you never know!), she is thrilled to be able to dance to the music that moves her. She sums it up by saying that music, dance and food feed her soul.
If you’d like more information on the doctors and services available at
Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center, please call Weight Management Services at 480-323-4300