Nova Scotia

Premature obituary leads to weight loss help

A Lower Sackville, N.S., woman who wrote her own obituary and posted it online to draw attention to the long wait for weight loss surgeries has taken up an offer to help her lose weight the old-fashioned way — exercise.

A Lower Sackville, N.S., woman who wrote her own obituary and posted it online to draw attention to the long wait for weight loss surgeries has taken up an offer to help her lose weight the old-fashioned way — exercise.

For the past month, Lillian Coakley, 42, has been working out in the gym three times a week under the watchful eye of a personal fitness trainer.

When fitness trainer Robyn Boucher read the fake obituary, she offered her services free of charge and a free gym pass to Coakley.

"Something hit me really, really hard," Boucher said Wednesday. "She is doing amazingly. She is doing great."

Coakley, the mother of two, hopes that working out will help stall a premature death due to obesity. She weighs 372 pounds. 

"This is my first step into a healthier me, and, hopefully, a longer life me," she said Wednesday.

Coakley went public after finding out there is a 10-year wait for bariatric surgery — operations that remove a large part of the stomach. The procedure helps to improve the lives of people who are obese by limiting how much they can eat.

Between 60 and 80 weight loss surgeries are performed each year in Halifax but the waiting list is now 2,000 people long.

After her plea for help became public, Coakley received many offers to help including from a clinic in Mexico that offered her free bariatric surgery. There were also promises of acupuncture and special diets.

But Coakley decided to accept Boucher's offer. Her goal is to drop 170 pounds, and to spread a message that people shouldn't be judged by their weight.

 "It doesn't matter if you're black or white, or have a disability or fat. Just try and help people," she said tearfully. 

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