Lisa Schaffer, DEEP Talk

DEEP Talk: Powerful Personal Insights into Obesity

Yesterday in Copenhagen, ten outstanding advocates for people living with obesity gathered. They came from all over Europe and North America. And for a little over two hours, they presented compelling personal stories about their lived experiences with the disease. These DEEP talks draw upon Disease Experience Expert Panels that Novo Nordisk assembles to guide a patient-centered drug development process.

The setting was a sleek Danish auditorium. But the stories were intense, raw, and real.

Vicki Mooney, Moderator

“We are people first. People who deserve respect. Do not ever let obesity define you. To stop you from going for that job, from traveling, from doing whatever you really want.”

Ted Kyle: Head and Heart

“Better science has helped. It tells us that this is a disease. And some basic brain functions to regulate energy storage are not working right when obesity becomes a problem. But all the science in the world doesn’t overcome intense feelings about obesity and about the people living with it. For that, we need real voices of real people living with obesity.”

Angela and Paul Chesworth: Baggage

“If you’re living with obesity, have your voice heard. Find your support with friends and family. Numerous support networks exist online and around the world. Trust your doctor. They really do want to help. Please remember. You are not alone.”

Melanie Bahlke: Life-Long Challenges

“Today, I know who I am. I am more than a number on a scale. My weight goes up and down and up and down. People say ‘Wow, it’s great.’ And then other people come around and say, ‘It’s your fault. You are eating too much.’ It is so hard to live with all these words. It is horrible. But it is good to have friends all over the world. We can speak together and make good memories. It makes the bad memories be taken away.”

Marty Enokson: Dignity

“Names can truly beat you down and take you to dark places that you might not ever come back from. I know. I’ve been there. What matters is dignity and respect. Please love yourself, people. Because you are so worth it.”

Ian Patton: Sucking It Up

“Men are not asking for help and they’re not seeking treatment. I let myself get sicker and sicker out of pure stubbornness. In truth, there’s nothing more manly and more powerful than to talk about the struggles you’re dealing with.We need more men speaking up and adding to the chorus. Demanding better.”

Kesha Calicutt: Privilege

“Treating, managing, and reducing obesity isn’t about making better choices. It’s about having the resources to even make the better choices in the first place. It’s important to acknowledge the role of privilege in obesity. Before labeling somebody, peel back the layers and see what might really be going on instead.”

Magda Gajda: Powerful Voices

“When I was 13, my colleague from school threw stones at me. Now I am now almost 50, and every day, I remember every single stone. I remember the horrible screaming, ‘You bad and fat pig!’ My niece heard this story and she told me, ‘Do you know the difference between your childhood and mine? Now these boys would throw stones at you, and make a video, and post it online.’ Then I promised myself that I will do everything I can to ensure that no more persons with obesity disease experience such a drama.”

Lisa Schaffer: Pressing Forward

“I still adore Miss Piggy. She taught me never to play small – even when you’re big. Not to care too much about what people actually think. She told me that there is power in learning to love and accept myself. And most importantly, she taught me to keep my head up and believe in myself even when the whole world is telling me otherwise. We have the power to show up and be ourselves. That is how we will challenge the false conversations that are happening about obesity.”

These people are powerful advocates with powerful stories. Click here or on the video above to hear all of it.

Lisa Schaffer, DEEP Talk, photograph © Ted Kyle

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September 3, 2019