It’s been almost a year since Robert Buchel’s My 600 Lb Life episode premiered, and over a year since his shocking death. But, as his fiancée Kathryn explains in a new interview, the My 600 Lb Life Robert’s death episode was just one more painful step in a journey that continues to this day.
Robert Buchel’s was the first of three My 600 Lb Life cast members to pass away last season
Fellow Season 6 cast member LB Bonner committed suicide several months after his My 600 Lb Life episode aired. Season 6’s Lisa Fleming also passed away last year, shortly after the season finished airing.
But Robert’s episode was the first in the show’s history to feature the death of a cast member during filming itself. Though he lost over 300 pounds during the episode, Robert developed an addiction to painkillers following his weight loss surgery, simultaneously sinking into a severe depression. On November 15th, 2017, Robert died of a heart attack. He was 41 years old.
Robert’s fiancée Kathryn Lemanski told us she “cracked under the pressure”
Following Robert’s death, his fiancée Kathryn Lemanski found herself crippled emotionally, as well as overwhelmed by moving expenses and medical bills. A friend of hers and Robert’s began a GoFundMe in Kathryn’s honor; as of this writing, it has just been met.
But, as Kathryn explained to us in an exclusive interview this past autumn, the fundraiser will only cover part of her debt. Neither TLC nor Megalomedia, My 600 Lb Life‘s production company, covers the full cost of moving each cast member to Houston to work with Dr. Nowzaradan, or the entirety of those cast members’ medical bills once work with the doctor begins — or, in Robert’s case, funeral expenses.
So Kathryn and Robert had to borrow heavily in order to finance his treatment. And, though Robert’s death voided some of the money, the rest of it — which came from her mother — Kathryn either still owes or feels honor-bound to repay.
“I’ve cracked under the pressure,” Kathryn told us. “So I’ve been struggling with anxiety as well.” Kathryn also revealed that she’d been dealing with serious health problems of her own: “I’ve had health issues including heart surgery, which I will have again in December [of 2018].”
Compounding matters were the hateful and unwanted sexual messages she received in droves following Robert’s episode. Though many of the messages she got were positive, Kathryn said she was nonetheless inundated with filth.
“In the first few weeks after the show aired I received more dick pics and jerking off videos than the p0rn industry,” Kathryn told us. “I’ve been called a murderer by many. A loser. I’ve begun told I’m just as disgusting as [Robert] was.”
“I’m surviving most of the time”
Now, in a new interview with the Asbury Park Press, Kathryn says she’s still just managing to make it through. And she revealed a few new complications in both her own life and from behind the scenes of Robert’s episode.
“People saw an edited version of the show due to time constraints,” Kathryn explained. “[The episode] omitted a lot of things that were going on outside of that.”
For example, during filming, Kathryn learned that she herself suffered from the same heart condition that killed Robert Buchel’s brother. Kathryn said she couldn’t help “panicking” while driving Robert from New Jersey to Houston, since that was when “they called me and told me that I had slight touch of cardiomyopathy.”
As it turned out, cardiomyopathy was a misdiagnosis. But Kathryn didn’t find that out until after she’d been to an ER in Texas.
Kathryn also said that the people sending her hateful messages on social media miss the point of Robert’s episode, since “the story is so much more complex and intricate than [My 600 Lb Life] let on….A food addict acts the same way as a drug addict.”
As for Robert, it’s clear that his memory — along with the pain of losing him so suddenly — will persist.
“I’ve been with him since 19,” Kathryn told the Press. “Not only did I lose him but I had no idea how to start over.”
If you’d like to donate to Kathryn’s GoFundMe, you can do so here.
(Photo credit: My 600 Lb Life Robert’s death via Facebook)
John Sharp is a Starcasm’s chief editorial correspondent-at-large. Tips: E-mail email@example.com or Twitter @john_starcasm.