The Fat Chemo

When I was diagnosed with leukemia, and told I’d be getting various types of chemotherapy, my old weight conscious brain snuck up and was secretly pleased at the idea of weight loss.  I’m sure that sounds nuts, but it is what it is.  Initially, I did lose quite a bit of weight with the ‘induction chemo’ (the first kind someone is given).  About 5 pounds a week for the first five weeks.  The dietician was always in my room, bless her heart. She tried everything. I was given every menu from every cafeteria and unit in the hospital. She even managed to find sandwich cookies in about four flavors when I told her I wanted junk food.  Then one day later, I was into kosher pickles. Go figure.  My mouth hurt, my tastebuds jumped ship, I was nauseated, and just messed up inside.  So, I dropped about 25 pounds during that first hospitalization.  While I knew that I needed to keep my intake up as best as I could, I wasn’t horrified at losing weight.  If I had to get cancer, at least I could get some sort of decent side effect, and lose weight.

Enter karma.  Shouldn’t have been so disinterested about  muscle wasting and my body being poisoned.

When I went home from the hospital, and was only on one of the chemotherapy pills, I gradually gained back the weight I’d lost in the hospital.  I was more than mortified.  As I had other types of chemo for a total of nineteen months, including fifty doses of  arsenic, I gained more weight. That hurt.  How rotten.  Part of it was side effects from the chemo. My body was in a total state of disarray. My blood sugars were nuts, my insulin dose went way crazy, and I was a complete slug from fatigue.  So much for losing weight.  I was blowing up like a toad.

Now I’ve been off of all chemo for nearly a year, and I’ve done just about everything I know to do to lose weight.  With the history of eating disorders, I’ve needed to be careful.  I can quit eating without much trouble; then I don’t start eating, and that’s a problem.  I’ve counted calories, got Richard Simmon’s Food Mover (actually the most helpful), got raspberry ketones, and done what I can within the physical limitations I’ve got (I’m disabled) to move more- but that leads to pain, which is never good as that leads to my body going into a fight or flight response with the dysautonomia I have.

I’m trying to be patient, but it’s not easy.  The weight isn’t about how I look, but more about how I feel and from a standpoint of being healthier.  I also want to wear my rings- I can still fit into my earrings, but that’s small consolation.  I also can’t afford a new wardrobe, so I look rather  ‘attic meets thrift store’.  I have plenty of perfectly good clothes from before I got cancer.

I’m still trying to figure this all out. Some days I’m really not good at it, but I keep trying.  I didn’t know there were fat chemos.  Nobody ever talks about people gaining weight when they have cancer. As I’ve read up on the topic, it seems many people (especially women) have this happen.   I have a lot to be thankful for in that I survived.  I could be skinny and dead, and there’s not much point in that.  Some warning would have been nice.  When I was listening to all of the stuff I’d be getting, and things that would happen, someone could have slipped a “oh, and you’ll gain more weight than you’d like”, and I wouldn’t have really noticed.

I definitely notice it now.  But, at least I’m alive to whine about it…

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One thought on “The Fat Chemo

  1. Definitely have some things in common. I still don’t understand why they never mention gaining weight as a side-effect of chemo! Don’t give up on trying and doing what you can. Yes, it is much better to be a fat survivor than a thin statistic with cancer! I’ll have to remind myself of that.

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