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Weight Loss Surgery Began ‘A Wonderful Journey’


Shondele Hall faced a dilemma. Her back pain was so severe that she needed surgery. But her weight was too high for the procedure.

“I was to the point that I couldn’t walk,” she said. “I couldn’t stand for three to five minutes without my legs going numb.”

Hall, 52, of Lexington had tried for years to lose weight, but it wasn’t working. She’d lose pounds, then gain it back.

“I just wasn’t living. It was very depressing.”

She finally made the decision - “the best decision I ever made” - to have weight loss surgery. Her doctor recommended one center, but Hall didn’t feel welcomed when she called them. So she checked in with the Center for Weight Loss Surgery at Saint Joseph East

“When I spoke with Karen (Hillenmeyer, center director), I just remember that she made me feel like, ‘this is OK. This is going to be good,’” Hall said. “I can’t stress how amazing everyone (at the center) is.”

Hall had her surgery in June 2021 and had lost 87 pounds by the end of the calendar year. She admits she has a long way to go until she reaches her full weight loss goal, but getting under 300 pounds has been a milestone for her.

So has some of those nonscale victories. She’s able to walk around the store with no need for one of the riding carts and no numbness in her legs. Her first trip to an outlet mall when she was able to walk around it was overwhelming. “I could not stop crying because I was so excited because I was walking,” she said.

Shondele Hall

An active member of Wesley United Methodist Church in Lexington, Hall has been able to be more involved. “Just the smallest thing to be able to be a liturgist, which I have not been able to do without them having to make changes … get a seat for me. Make sure it’s short enough,” she said.

Her husband travels with his job and now, Hall, can accompany him on occasion. “I can do more. I can ride in the car more,” she said. “My family is so supportive and that’s important … be surrounded by people who support you and are there for you.”

Hall said anyone considering weight loss surgery should make sure they are mentally ready “because it’s a complete life change. (Weight loss surgery) is just a tool and people don’t understand that. The surgery is just a tool. You have to do the rest.”

The Center facilitates a private Facebook group that has a community of supporters for those who have been on a similar journey. Hall likes to share her story. She, after all, benefited from another friend's experience and wants to offer similar inspiration and support.

“Just seeing (her friend) and what she was going through … it inspired me,” Hall said. “I had doubts for so long; I thought I can lose weight on my own. I just want people to see me and say, ‘I want to know her story because it may be similar to my story.’

“This is a wonderful journey and I am so grateful to be on it.”

Shondele Hall

To learn more about our weight loss surgery program, visit

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