The first time Stacey Halprin was a guest on The Oprah Show, she was featured on a show about people who hate the obese. In this striking episode, Stacey went about her daily life with a hidden camera. All around her, people made comments—and their words were captured on camera.
Monica says that she related to all of the issues Stacey highlighted. "I was just amazed that someone would actually be that brutally honest about weight issues," Monica says. "I would internalize all of that."
Years later Monica had reached 360 pounds, was always tired, suffered from diabetes and was considering gastric bypass surgery. Around this time, Stacey returned to The Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss her own experience with gastric bypass.
Stacey provided a lightbulb moment for both Oprah and Monica about gastric bypass. The surgery, she explained, is not the end; it's the beginning. "You still have to continue to eat healthfully and exercise," Monica explains. After seeing Stacey's life after gastric bypass, Monica finally decided to undergo the surgery herself.
On her postsurgery show, Stacey also mentioned that she loved theater, but her weight had prevented her from attending any shows. Monica's sister Sandra invited her to a performance of Phantom of the Opera at the same time Monica was in town. The two met just three weeks before Monica's surgery.
"She was fantastic," Monica says. "She was so encouraging and sweet and really just gave me the courage to face what I had to face."
A year after her surgery, Monica has lost 125 pounds.