71-year-old healthcare worker cycles through weight loss journey

OCEAN CITY, N.J. -- The sunny shore of Ocean City, New Jersey, plays host to a bevy of bicyclists cruising down flat streets and boardwalk planks.

71-year-old Marian Mulligan might blend in with the crowd, if not for her Maltese dog, Lilly, that rides in the passenger's basket.

"She's my buddy," Mulligan said. Lilly has been a companion through her physical and mental health journey during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Unfortunately I've not been able to see (my family) since last Christmas, now," she said. "And to have somebody with me to share the ride has been fun."

Earlier this March, the long-time healthcare worker picked up her bicycle and dropped quite a few pounds in the process. Only a few rides away from 1,000 total miles, she has already lost 30 pounds.

"Being in the medical profession, I know how important it is to stay healthy and stay fit," she said.

Marian has been a certified registered nurse anesthetist for 48 years. Her job was to help run ICUs, fitting breathing tubes with respirators, and much more.

"In bigger hospitals, anesthetists are in the hospitals 24 hours a day, seven days a week," she said. "Anesthetists I think are somewhat a little bit behind the scenes, and I would like to see them be brought to the light and be appreciated."

Born and raised in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, her own career began a half-century ago at the Medical College of Pennsylvania in East Falls. She practiced for 4 years in Connecticut and came back to Philadelphia, working at Abington Memorial Hospital for 20 years.

"I have absolutely loved every minute of the profession I chose for myself," Mulligan said.

Taking a small hiatus for a personal medical procedure, she was ready to get back to work right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Unable to return since, she hopes to pick up more hours in the near future.

But she needed to keep herself healthy for when that time comes.

"That is a strong consideration for not getting the virus, and God forbid you do, you're healthy to fight it," she said.

In the meantime, Mulligan enjoys playing tennis twice a week with her friends, claiming she always plays to win. She enjoys listening to music from the 1970s during her bicycle rides, featuring lyrics by Simon & Garfunkel and John Denver that she feels could make the world a better place.

With her new focus on health and family, Mulligan hopes to inspire others to make positive changes in their lives.

"And I think, y'know, if everybody gets up and gets going, we'll chase the virus," she said. "Chase it away."

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