Tracey Matthews, a 44-year-old grandmother, is hoping to get weight-loss surgery to cure the extreme swelling in her legs and reduce her weight of 605 lbs.

By Julie Mazziotta
March 22, 2017 10:10 AM


Tracey Matthews grew up in a difficult household with her parents fighting constantly —and she wants a different experience for her kids and grandchildren. But at 605 lbs., her weight is holding her back.

The Lorain, Ohio native weighed 70 lbs. by age 6 or 7, thanks to a turbulent home life. At 11, she and her siblings started spending more time at her grandparents’ house, which was a major improvement, but didn’t help her weight issues.

“We were still living with our parents, but they were just never there. But my eating didn’t slow down, because my grandma loved to feed us, and give us any kind of sweets. So I was around 170 lbs. [at age 11],” Matthews, 44, says in this exclusive clip from Wednesday’s episode of My 600-Lb. Life. “At grandma’s house, I didn’t have to deal with my dad’s drinking, or my dad and my mom fighting.”

But when she and her siblings returned home at the end of the day, they found themselves back in a bad situation.

“Things in our house were more violent,” Matthews says. “There were times when windows got broke at our house, and shotguns were brought out, and my mom and me and my brothers would run out of the house for our lives.”

Food was Matthews’ only source of comfort.

“Food was what made me feel safe,” she says. “When I ate, I wasn’t worrying. So middle school, junior high, my weight got all the way up to the 200’s. And I put on another 50 lbs. by the time I was in high school. So I got to like, 270 lbs. by the time I graduated.”

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Her problems intensified when she started having kids, and Matthews gained 100 lbs. with each pregnancy. As her weight soared to 605 lbs., Matthews developed other issues, like severe lymphedema, or swelling, in her legs.

Each day, she needs her husband to lift her legs, which are covered with cellulitis — an infectious rash — out of bed.

Matthews is hoping now to get her mobility back with weight loss surgery, so she can live a long life with her grandkids.

My 600-Lb. Life airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on TLC.