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Cindy Hilliard, 64, doesn’t exactly remember when the irregular heartbeats started.

“It’s been about 5-6 years now, but I probably ignored them for quite some time before,” she said.

A truck driver who crisscrossed the U.S. for 18 years, Cindy enjoyed driving, especially on her favorite route. She would start at her home in Winnsboro, travel to Dallas, Los Angeles and Reading, Pennsylvania, before returning to Dallas and then back home – a journey over 5,800 miles that lasted 5 days.

“I never got to see many popular sites because of time constraints and because I...

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Hospital volunteer becomes a patient after heart surgery

Chuck Winston finds joy in helping others.

The 85-year-old widow and resident of Ben Wheeler spends a couple of days each week volunteering his time in the pain management department at UT Health Tyler.

“I clean the beds, make the beds and roll people out to the main entrance when discharged,” said Chuck. He also stays active by walking his 5-acre property, filled with lots of oak and elm trees.

“After storms roll in and the wind blows, I always find fallen limbs scattered on the ground, which I collect and burn,” he said. “I stay pretty active and have never felt...

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Losing weight and developing a healthier lifestyle is a journey many people want to take. Thomas Martin is living proof that it can be done.

The 67-year-old former gas and fuel oil plant operator has retired with his wife to their more than five acres near Frankston where he raises goats. He spends his days building and repairing fences for their livestock.

But at 340 pounds, Thomas had difficulty maintaining his energy levels while working around the home. To make matters worse, his weight was preventing him from enjoying his real passion: riding his motorcycle.


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For Teresa Epps, the office manager of a local construction firm, managing her weight had been a constant battle. But after her successful gastric bypass surgery 2 years ago, she is now enjoying a healthy lifestyle with a fun and rather adventurous future.

“I struggled with my weight for a long time,” the 55-year-old Mount Vernon resident said. “I tried many diets and even lap band surgery.”

Lap band surgery involves placing an adjustable band around the top third of the patient’s stomach, leaving only a small area of the stomach to hold food and a larger area to digest the...

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Photos of Brian Low before and after surgery by Dr. Charles Keith

For 34-year-old Brian Low, obesity was very depressing.

“I was severely obese and depressed,” said Brian. “At my heaviest, I weighed 388 pounds. It was hard to do anything, which made me feel terrible.”

Brian also suffered from sleep apnea, which is a potentially serious sleep disorder when one’s breathing repeatedly stops and starts through the night. In addition to snoring loudly, the person also feels tired in the morning, even after a full night’s sleep.

Feeling tired and depressed made Brian’s mood spin lower and lower every day. After a while, he knew he had...

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Our body is like a finely-tuned automobile. Treat it right and it can last for a very long time.

But when you overload a vehicle with too much weight, the tires can wear out quickly and you face the possibility of a blowout. This extra strain also means the engine has to work harder to make the vehicle move, which usually means more problems down the road.

Merribeth Norman, who with her husband shares a love for driving and showing their antique car (above), had similar health concerns that led her to take serious steps to get back into good health.


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As the practice administrator for nine different rural health clinics in east Texas, Rhonda Keller regularly drives hundreds of miles to check-in with the doctors, nurses and staff who operate the clinics.

She talks to them about the patients they see, the care they provide and how more serious cases have to be transferred to UT Health Tyler.

So when Rhonda started having symptoms of extreme fatigue, she didn’t realize she would soon become one of those transferred patients to UT Health Tyler.

“I just thought it was all stress related, caused by work and everything...

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Man and doctor discuss vasectomy surgery.

Have you been considering a vasectomy? As you consider this option, questions are sure to arise. We have gathered a few of the most popular questions related to having a vasectomy and have compiled the answers here. Be sure to consult with your healthcare provider for specific information and recommendations that apply to your personal health needs.

UT Health East Texas Urology offers vasectomy procedures in Tyler, Athens and surrounding communities. For more information on this procedure, or to schedule an appointment, visit

What happens...

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Rachel Villanueva was not used to being on the receiving end of patient care.

As supervisor of the UT Health East Texas Physicians pediatric clinic on Fifth in Tyler, Rachel oversees the care of dozens of patients throughout the week.

But when it came to managing her own weight and overall health, she needed her doctors’ guidance.

“I have battled my weight for many years,” Rachel said. “Four years ago my OB/...

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The American Diabetes Association Diabetes Alert Day serves as a reminder that many of us are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Approximately 90-95% of people diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. Diabetes affects 34.2 million or about 10.5% of Americans. So, who exactly is at risk?


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