05/06/04 — Local woman undergoes radical surgical transformation

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Local woman undergoes radical surgical transformation

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on May 6, 2004 2:06 PM

A radiant Monika Barkley was revealed on the "Extreme Makeover" television show Wednesday night, documenting her radical transformation over the past year.

The show was filmed last month at Billie's Restaurant in downtown Goldsboro.

On April 15, 50 friends and family members gathered on one side of Billie's Restaurant, eating and talking as they waited for Mrs. Barkley's arrival. One half of the restaurant was hidden from view, the doors covered with drapes.

Monika Barkley

Monika Barkley

After waiting for more than an hour, the show's producers said it was time for "Monika to be revealed." The curtains came down, and everyone crowded near a side door, leading into another room off the main dining room.

At last, Mrs. Barkley came through the doors in a clingy designer dress that accented her new attributes. She was greeted by gasps of shock and admiration.

Husband Sam's mouth dropped open, and several people exclaimed, "She looks great!"

Mrs. Barkley was chosen to participate in the "Extreme Makeover" show as a result of her participation in "Dr. Phil McGraw's Weight Loss Challenge."

In September, she was one of 13 people selected from over 7,000 entries nationwide to participate in the challenge.

She met her goal of losing 50 pounds, but she also shed some heavy emotional weight. Half-way through the weight-loss program she said that she was "happy for the first time in 35 years."

She attributed that new-found happiness to the healing of childhood wounds locked inside of her for decades. Dr. Phil, she said, and the keys outlined in his book, helped her deal with her emotional issues.

Her success with Dr. Phil led to her being picked for "Extreme Makeover."

On Feb. 15, a day after her wedding anniversary, Mrs. Barkley headed to California where she would spend two months getting the makeover.

She spent almost two weeks getting ready for her surgeries, eating well and exercising daily. Once in California, her movements were recorded, and she never let the hotel unescorted. That was to prevent any family or friends from seeing her.

One of the hardest things, she said, besides recovering from the various surgeries, was being away from friends and family.

In late February she celebrated her 43rd birthday, with a protein shake.

But through it all, she never lost her sense of humor.

Before her surgeries, she said that she was pretty calm about it all. "There are other 'cast mates' here in different stages of healing and they've calmed me down quite a bit," she said.

And just days after her tummy tuck surgery, Mrs. Barkley said that she felt like she had been on the "losing end of a Ginsu knife fight."

Finally, on April 15, exactly two months after leaving Goldsboro, Mrs. Barkley returned -- a new woman.

This week she is back in California, filming an update for the "Dr. Phil Show," which will air later this month.