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No stranger to adversity

W.Va. woman featured in 'O" magazine article

W.Va. woman featured in 'O" magazine article

August 08, 2005|by TONY BUDNY

FALLING WATERS, W.VA.

anthonyb@herald-mail.com

Lana Spence, 43, was visiting Oprah Winfrey's Web site, Oprah.com, in early April and sent what she describes as a "venting e-mail" about her desire to lose weight.

"I saw a picture of myself on stage singing in Los Angeles with Janis Joplin's band and really didn't like what I saw," she said.

Spence, of Falling Waters, said she forgot about the e-mail until she got a reply from a representative requesting a picture of her. A week later, on her birthday, April 14, she got a present: a phone call asking her to be on Oprah's show.

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The show idea became instead a six-page feature article in the recently released August 2005 edition of "O" magazine. Spence was one of 10 women featured in vignettes about their backgrounds and struggles with weight loss, confidence and their lives.

The women were flown to New York for a session with a staff of experts in different fields, the article said. Bob Greene, Oprah's personal trainer, along with psychologist Margo Maine, mind control expert Steven Hassan and fashion expert Stacy London, studied and guided each of the women on their treks to lose weight, tone muscle or just change their mind-sets, the magazine story says.

"I never really expected to be chosen," Spence said.

Spence is no stranger to challenge, adversity and attention. As the lead singer of the local band Thique, she has regularly made appearances on stage and performed with Joplin's former band Big Brother and the Holding Company.

In December 1996, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and had a hysterectomy the following January, she said. In June 1997, she had a second surgery to remove scar tissue stemming from the hysterectomy, a condition that threatened her life, she said. Two months after the final procedure, she left her lifelong home in Hagerstown to go to Los Angeles.

She said these events took a toll on her mentally and physically.

"It wasn't until then when I really started to feel like I was putting on weight, feeling bad about myself. I left behind my mother, Betty, the sweetest lady in the world and also a cancer survivor, and seven siblings. My singing career also took a hit," she said.

Spence has lost 6 pounds since she was featured, but gained perspective. She said she has power walked daily since 1995, but was never really able to lose weight when she wanted. She credits her change in mind-set for the weight loss and newfound confidence.

"It changed my frame of mind," she said. "Hearing that I could do it from professionals and having that support while doing it with other women really helped," she said.

Spence has advice for those hoping to do the same thing she did.

"Believe in yourself. Your life will become more positive if you just think that way," she said.

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