Pictures of me are rare. Pictures of me online are almost non-existent, partly because I have tried to keep myself anonymous in this regard. However....for this, I will break my rule.
When I started out on the cancer trail I was fairly slender. At 5'4" tall, I weighed 135. Most people when they are told that they have cancer, and for those who are on Arimidex and other similar medications, weight gain is one of the side effects. One of the culprits is the steroids which are used to manage other side effects of chemotherapy.
Some people, however, lose weight from chemo therapy. I maintained it. After having cancer the first time, I gained weight. Not horrifically so, but maybe 20 pounds. It was after the second go round that I ballooned.
Three months after having finished chemo and shortly after finishing radiation, I had a complete hysterectomy and oophrectomy (ovaries removed). Being menopausal then, I found that weight gained didn't want to come off so easily. I know that calories in have to equal calories out. There's the rub.
We tend to toss off this as the cancer's fault. I know that the lion's share of this is my fault. Being told that you are stage 4 has a huge impact. First, there's the "Well, heck, if I'm going to die soon from this anyway, bring on the hot fudge sundaes!" The second part of it was that I was pretty mad at my husband. He couldn't handle the fact that I had a pretty strong chance of dying. I needed him to acknowledge this and because he couldn't, I was mad at him.
Now, you have to understand that I met my husband in the bicycling club. We did lots of mileage. It wasn't unusual for me at that point in my late 20s to ride 150 miles a week, sometimes more. He's also build differently than I am. He has a naturally high metabolism and has long slender bones. I'm average in my bone structure, except that I'm really short legged, long in the body, but short in the leg. So...stuffing my face with sweets (always my downfall since I was little) was a stupid way to stick it to him. Self destructive? Absolutely.
I also know that when we tend to do things like this, we are trying to fill a hole. Guilty as charged. I also find it difficult to get the exercise I need to do because the radiation really really hurt the muscles on my pelvis. It feels like I have a constant knot there, and trust me, I'm as reliable as the local meteorologist in predicting changes in weather.
It has also given me new insight....one I'd rather not have, of how our society treats people who are overweight. We are invisible. When people do notice us, there is an element of "have you no self control? Are you so undisciplined as to turn yourself into this? Why don't you take care of yourself?" Sometimes, there is just too much to take care of. We are, as a nation, prejudiced against the fat.
Right after the first go around, and also after the second go around, I did all that I could. I walked for at least an hour a day. I did step aerobics (now that was a trip....literally, imagine someone who has a hard time remembering her right from her left doing some of these Charlestons left then switch....hey, I have two rights...), I did water aerobics (and was the youngest in the class). I found it difficult to get the exercise done and still be mom and wife. So, after a while, I gave up.
I also know it is far to easy to blame the cancer and the treatment. At 11 years post therapy it is time to do something about it. Maybe now that I recognize what the issue is, I'll be able to think about it and decide not to put that piece of chocolate in my mouth....or rather, put one piece of chocolate in, not 5.