It’s been an emotional season of My 600-lb Life — with more sad endings than we had anticipated — but the April 11 finale featuring Jennifer and Marissa ended the season on a high note. After undergoing weight loss surgery on the same day, this mother-and-daughter pair from Bend, OR, lost a combined 430 pounds — and repaired their relationship in the process!
At the start of the episode, 42-year-old Jennifer weighed 636 pounds. “I’ve gotten so big now that the strain of all that weight on my body makes every part of me ache,” she revealed. “It feels like I am carrying five people with me at all times.”
And Jennifer’s eldest child, 26-year-old Marissa, weighed 573 pounds after using food to ease her frustration over her role as her mother’s caretaker. “I’m going to end up right where she is if I don’t change,” Marissa said on the show.
As with many subjects of the TLC reality show, Jennifer’s weight problems began amid childhood trauma. Her father was a temperamental addict who left her mother when Jennifer was five. Her mother remarried, but the new husband abused and molested Jennifer while her mother made excuses for his behavior.
“Nobody did anything to save me and I had nowhere to turn, so I turned to food,” Jennifer said. “I just started gorging myself. It was the only thing in my life that I could turn to that made me feel safe and happy.”
Jennifer became pregnant with Marissa when she was 16 and married Marissa’s father, but he too became abusive, and six years later, Jennifer had an affair and a baby with another man. She gave that child up for adoption, but that heartbreak sent her spiraling into depression. By the time Jennifer left her husband, she had topped 600 pounds. She then started seeing a man named Dwane, but his drug addiction became her drug addiction, and she lost everything — her car, her home, and even her children, who were sent to live with their grandparents.
Meanwhile, Marissa suffered trauma in her youth, too. She said her father forced her to watch him beat her mother. Plus, when she was 14, she was raped by an older boy. She had reached 300 pounds by the time she turned 18, and she only gained more weight as she started caring for her mother.
They met with Dr. Younan Nowzaradan, but they struggled with the diets he imposed — especially because Jennifer was stressed over her fights with Dwane, who had developed a gambling habit. Finally, however, both women lost the requisite amount of weight, and Dr. Now approved them for surgery, though he also ordered them to go to therapy together. Jennifer had a gastrectomy, and Marissa had a gastric sleeve installed; and by the end of the episode, Jennifer had lost 201 pounds, and Marissa had shed 232. They were excited to shop for new clothes, and we imagine that’s just one perk of their new leases on life. Congrats to them both!
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