What a ride it was on Season 17 of My 600-Lb Life. We watched as 14 morbidly obese but determined individuals at over 600 pounds moved to Houston, Texas, to change up their lives under the care and tough love of celebrity bariatric surgeon Dr. Now.
Not all the stories have been happy ones, however. In March 2019, we watched as Kelly sadly died alone during filming, after succeeding in shedding well over 300 pounds. She was a reminder of just how deadly the addiction can be and how dire it is to change one's relationship with food in order to lead a healthier and happier life.
Next, we got to see the story of Annjeanette Whaley, a 30-year-old San Diego, Calif., native who uprooted her life to seek Dr. Now's care in Houston. When she was 9, a campaign was established to send Annjeanette to fat camp. She resented the public shame associated with her weight and has been struggling since an early age to overcome her food addiction.
"Now," as the show's description puts it, "she must change her habits to save her life." When we first met Annjeanette, she said that "it sucks to carry all this weight. It feels horrible, it hurts."
Annjeanette had her surgery in December 2018 — and got a second chance at life.
At 30 and after having struggled with food addiction her entire life, Annjeanette knew she had to take drastic measures to get her life on a different track. "When I'm eating, I don't feel all the pain of my life. I have to find a way to change," she said in a voiceover.
Since Annjeanette was under Dr. Now's care, she hasn't taken to updating her Instagram account and her Facebook profile much. But she's been finding the time to post motivational quotes that are helping her keep positive during her journey.
"I'm not telling you it's going to be easy, I'm telling you it's going to be worth it," she added to her profile in March 2019. Thankfully, her father Jack has been keeping the public a bit more up to date on his daughter's struggles and progress since her gastric bypass surgery.
"Last day of 2018 and guess what???" he posted proudly on New Year's Eve, 2018. "My heart soars like an eagle. After a grueling five-year war with the two states I love, my baby girl... finally got her much needed and woefully overdue chance at a second chance at life. Thank you Lord for your support, and your loving grace. I love you so very much family and friends!!!"
While 'My 600-lb Life' covers all medical costs for the patient, they don't foot all the bills.
As My 600-lb Life fans know, Dr. Now mandates that each person on the show have someone accompany them to Houston to support them through the weight-loss process ahead of the sleeve surgery, and then stay with them during their recovery.
And while Dr. Now the cost of care for one year of filming for the cast member, the same does not go for the person they are obligated to bring along. Two weeks before the surgery, Annjeanette's dad took to Facebook to ask if anyone could help cover half of the cost of his flight to Texas.
"We were under the impression my travel would be covered, but at the 11th hour have been informed only half will be covered, plus there is no chance of a short delay to allow me to raise," he shared. "This is a circumstance that if not attended to could put an abrupt end to my daughter's life. Not acceptable in my view."
We're so glad people stepped up to help Jack be there for his daughter during her recovery and that she's doing and feeling better now. Keep up the good work, Annjeanette!
Watch My 600-lb Life Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on TLC.