“You have cancer, shouldn’t you be skinny?”
Let me clarify your statement, random person who knows nothing about me. When I had cancer, prior to treatment, I was losing weight like I was a teenager again. The cancer was causing me to eat less, and sleep all the time because I had no energy. Plus the blood cells it was releasing (immature white blood cells) weren’t making room for the real stuff which oddly enough lowers your weight too. During the first ten months of treatment, I wasn’t able to gain a lot of weight, the drugs were so intense that while I wasn’t able to exercise I was vomiting everything up, and when I was eating it wasn’t anything substantial.
Then the steroids kicked in, and once I could start eating my metabolism had slowed to someone post-menopausal – making my old workout routine and normal eating habits almost impossible to keep unless I was okay with constantly gaining weight.
Now on maintenance, the drugs I’ll be on until August 2016, I’ve noticed a drastic downward slide in my metabolism thanks to all of the life-saving drugs I’m on. Needless to say, I’m not pleased. After constantly battling body image issues for my whole life until I was finally okay with how I looked, I got cancer, now I’m back to where I started.
I’ve lost control of so much, it’s even more frustrating that I’ve lost control over one of the things I normally would be able to. This isn’t to say I’m not trying. I’ve started walking more, doing planks (I’m up to one minute!), and fitting in other exercises that are oncologist-approved. But I still feel like a walking contradiction, aren’t cancer patients supposed to get some sort of twisted benefit to high metabolisms and not having worry about weight? Where did I miss the sign up for that treatment plan?
Even though this isn’t a permanent state, it’s one that isn’t pretty – er pretty for me to be in mentally. I’ve been down this road of body unhappiness, but usually there is a lot I can do about it. Instead, it’s an uphill battle on top of everything else. You’d think at some point there would be some secret surprise package of a good-luck win at some point (minus going into remission).
To the random person on the street that is concerned with my weight, screw you. You don’t know the powerful things I’m able to accomplish now that a year ago I wouldn’t even be able to dream about. You don’t know how nice it is to not throw up multiple times a day. I may be chubbier than you imagine someone going through chemo should be – but news flash: when it comes to chemo, cancer, and the like, there is no “should be.”