Chip’s Story: Weight Loss Surgery Patient Starts New Life with Help from Bon Secours Community Hospital

Francis “Chip” Estenes, 49, weighed 425 pounds in 2016 when he made the decision to undergo bariatric weight-loss surgery at Bon Secours Community Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) in Port Jervis.

“I struggled with my weight for most of my life. I tried programs to lose weight but would gain back even more,” he says. “Weight was hindering my lifestyle and affecting my health. My joints ached, and I had chronic back problems and fatty liver disease. I saw myself going to 500 pounds easily.”

Following his doctor’s recommendation, Estenes called Bon Secours and had a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy. Seven months later, he ran his first of many 5K races that would follow.

“Before, I was always on the sidelines, cheering and thinking, I want to be one of those runners. Crossing the finish line brings feelings of joy, achievement and accomplishment,” says Estenes, who lives in Port Jervis with his wife, Kelley, and their rescue dog, Sally.

“Surgery is really a small part of the process. It’s not what makes a patient lose weight; it’s the tool with which patients can modify behavior and diet to achieve weight loss,” says Estenes’ surgeon, Peter Kwon, MD.

Estenes’ surgery — one of more than 600 bariatric surgeries the team at the Surgical Weight Loss Institute performs annually at Bon Secours Community Hospital and Good Samaritan Hospital, both members of WMCHealth — was performed at Bon Secours Community Hospital.

“I feel 1,000 times better, and it’s incredible — liberating, like a rebirth,” says Estenes, who by January 2019 weighed 215 pounds and admits he was surprised to lose more than 200 pounds in his first year following surgery.

Estenes now enjoys bike rides, gym workouts and hiking. In fact, he’s an Ambassador for the Outdoor Club of Port Jervis, providing guided beginner hikes to the public in the Port Jervis Watershed Park Trails.