Friday, June 29, 2012
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
All my oncology doctors secretly yearn to be comedians. This is because there is no comedy or fun in their jobs, seriously. If it is bad news, it is tears and fears. If good, tears of gratitude. I still, every single time I go see my oncology surgeon for that six month post-surgery checkup, fight back the tears. His admin, aka, Super Girl, moved around something like 20 surgeries to get me back in and under the knife in just two days’ time when it was discovered that the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes. I tell her earnestly to her face that she is one of the main reasons I’m still here, loving my grand-daughter and my life. She is so modest, she just brushes it aside and smiles.
I brought her a stunning orchid plant yesterday. I try and bring something, just a small token really, every single time I go there. I never, EVER forget what these people did for me. How gentle my surgeon is, how he spoke so bravely and directly to my boyfriend and my family when I was still coming around post surgeries. How strong and in control he was and how that all made me feel like it was going to be ok. He made everything ok.
I will never forget this.
And it is because of these incredible people that I try and bring a little laughter and sunshine into their lives when I blow into their office for the approximately 37 minutes I am there every six months. I am funny, ha, ha, ha. I was therefore delighted when my surgeon playfully asked me if I’d had the Lap Band or some sort of gastric weight loss work done without his knowledge. What a card.
But you gotta love a doctor who notices and then generously praises weight loss accomplishments. Sorry doc, no gimmicks − this one was pure discipline and dedication and finally coming to grips with just how many bazillions of calories that a teeny, tiny bite of cheese is.
We then discussed cheese, my doctor and I. Turns out we both passionately love cheese and dairy. Love, love, love it. He therefore understands and is understandably in awe of my incredible sacrifice. I knew I had a connection to this man that went deeper than just helping cure me of cancer but who knew it would be so profound? Cheese is the glue that connects people. Cheese is like dark matter or wormholes, mysterious and absolutely the thing that holds our world together only we don’t really understand it very well.
That’s cheese for you.
So, I love cheese but not nearly as much as I love the idea of fitting back into my skinny jeans.
Sometimes, the love of your life just isn’t good for you. That’s how I view cheese, like a bad boy boyfriend who drinks too much, cheats and isn’t very reliable. You love him madly but he’s no good for you.
Oh my gosh, I think cheese and I just broke up.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
I decided, frankly after seeing very WIDE photos of myself, that my oncology doctors were giving me way too much of a pass. This is because the photos were not taken with a wide angle photo lens. It was just me, too wide.
I’d had enough. I decided that unless I REALLY TRIED, I would never know if it truly was ‘nearly impossible’ and ‘extremely difficult’ to lose weight. Basically, I took a pass on the pass that everyone had been giving me, post cancer.
Now fully 13 pounds lighter (with an undisclosed number to go), I am undelighted to report that it’s not nearly impossible, or even extremely difficult, just hard. I have been steadily losing an average of two pounds a week, the correct amount of pounds to lose on a weekly basis according to my BFF who is an expert at this sort of thing.
Turns out I was simply eating the things that I like to eat and the things that I like to eat; pasta, bread, cheese, cheese…did I mention cheese? They are all roughly one bazillion calories a serving.
Some of you knew this already but as a formally skinny person, this was seriously news to me. I thought it was the meds, my metabolism, not being able to do hard cardio exercise….and maybe all that combined to form the perfect (fat) storm that drove my weight up to where it was mroe than six weeks ago.
Never having had to diet or deprive myself like most American women, I decided to first see just how far The Truth would get me. Turns out, minus 13 pounds and counting. Counting every single calorie that I consume has made all the difference on the scale and in my life. Annoying difference but a difference all the same.
Not that this has been easy. The most annoying aspect of this all has been having to think about food all the time and then plan for it. I have to plan for every meal and count the real calories. If I do that, I lose weight; slow and steady, the weight is coming off.
Counting true calories is also useful in that other weight loss strategy that fat doctors like to call portion control. Portion control basically means that whatever you were eating you need to cut the portion size by half or even a third. So, I can have pasta, just not a giant plate full. Cheese is another story, cheese is a billion calories a teeny, tiny bite.
Life is really unfair sometimes.
But it’s my job to maintain the healthiest possible lifestyle and part of that is bringing my weight back down to where it was about eight years ago. Long term, my wardrobe is going to be really happy about this. I’ve had to neglect some of my cuter clothes because of my expanded hip and waist line. But soon, should I keep this regime up (and I am of no mind not to), I should be able to fit back into some old favorites and buy some new, very hot, skin tight jeans.
The combination of my genetics, mostly Irish and Italian, mean I only buy and wear jeans when I’m at my thinnest so I am genuinely looking forward to buying new jeans. I have to wait until my thighs are presentable in public, a real dream for a girl with my genetics. Plus, I’m polite. I won’t show my thigh girth in public until it is acceptable. I have respect for my fellow human beings, after all.
Weight loss, it turns out, is also a marathon sport, not a sprint. It takes months and months of lifestyle eating habits changes, day in and day out, to get to a target weight using the two pounds a week strategy. This strategy, by the way, maximizes the odds of keeping the weight off. Maintaining The New Weight will be Phase Two of this whole weight loss adventure I’ve embarked upon. Sort of like a stay-cation but without all the great meals.
Accountability is something I’m actually pretty good at. I’m expertly accountable for every penny of my department budget at work. I am an extremely accountable Nana to Claudia The Baby and to my daughter as the parent of an adult child. I am also happily accountable for a long-distance relationship going on nine years now. I’m fully accountable to the cat and the dog. And I’d be accountable to a gold fish or a cloned saber toothed tiger if I had one.
Thus, I am all about accountability. So, I figured, I would simply make myself accountable for every calorie I consumed and see how far it that got me. My OB/GYN thinks it will take me all the way to my target weight goal; he is the only doctor who didn’t give me a pass. He was the one who kindly and diplomatically told me I should cut my caloric intake to at least try and lose weight because as we age, a lower body weight also lowers the risk for many kinds of cancer.
Yeah, yeah, he was right, he was right. He was also delighted the last time he saw me, he praised my then 9 and a half pound loss and told me to keep going. His nursing staff was curious however. As I was preparing to leave, one of the nurses remarked that it was impressive to see someone on Tamoxafin lose this much weight, what was my secret? Was I doing the South Beach diet? Weight Watchers? Jenny Craig?
“No,” I replied honestly. “I am on the count-every-calorie-that-goes-in-my-mouth diet.”
The nurse smiled as she remarked, “So basically, it sucks?”
Yup, it sucks, at least my diet certainly can. But as I munch down on some strawberries for my mid afternoon snack (a meager 49 calories a cup), I dream of cheese (twice a week, microscopic portions) and skinny jeans.
The skinny jeans are winning.
Friday, June 15, 2012
They say youth is wasted on the young and at my age, I tend to agree but not always. Not this time.
What kind of 20 some things, darling girls, full of life and robust of health, take hours and hours, week after week, month after month, out of their busy schedules to train for a 39-plus mile charity event for breast cancer?
Three girls who take my Pilates class, what’s who. They approached me after class recently, shyly gave me a survivor bracelet – and a cancer survivor can never have too many of those – and told me their incredible tale.
First off, like so many wonderful things, this effort started out motivated by something else entirely.
“We wanted to get healthy. But we didn’t think it would be so much of a commitment,” laughed Team Captain Megan Knowles, 24 years old, one of the young women spearheading this project.
Training nearly every day to be able to walk more than 39 miles in just two days is just the beginning. There is, as with many charity events, the serious matter of donations. And they don’t lack for ambition, they set the bar high, a whopping team goal of $7,200 their first year out.
Thirteen weeks into this life changing 16 week journey, the trio is still shy of their goal and this after multiple fund raising events and obtaining donations from a vast network of friends and family.
“As we have gotten older we realize just how much this disease effects women,” Megan Knowles explained, adding that all three girls have had breast cancer directly impact their lives.
“Both of our families have had grandparents affected by breast cancer,” Megan Knowles explained of herself, little sister Madi age 20, and best friend Lorena Lee, also 24 years old. “This is also our way to celebrate her,” she added of one grandmother, now five years cancer free.
Lorena, who works at a local elementary school with young children, remarked on how she sees her efforts impacting the little girls she works with. “My generation is trying to help their generation, I want to make a difference,” she said.
Madi, the baby of the group, says she is looking forward to the day when breast cancer is cured and viewed the way the world now generally views diseases such as polio which were once widely feared and lethal killers and now considered entirely preventable. ‘When I’m older and have kids, I hope this disease, like polio, is gone,” she said.
So the fundraising continues and the girls keep walking. They will participate in the Avon Walk For Breast Cancer on July 7th and 8th with the aim of crossing the finish line at Fort Mason, San Francisco.
So, help the girls please. They have a website and while this late into the fundraising process one now has to click on each team member individually to donate, the girls still urge people to donate: http://info.avonfoundation.org/goto/39milesforbust
You can also still send the girls checks and of course, everything is tax deductible.
As for me, I’ll be there, cheering and watching those wonderful girls cross the finish line, having given up so much of their time and energy to make a difference, it is the least I can do in support of such fine young women.
“We are walking for the past, the present and the future,” Megan said of the group’s mantra.
So you won’t find this trio of 20 some things at the local mall or bars or even chasing hot dating opps right now. They are on a mission, they are giving up months of their lives, donating both time, effort and fundraising to help fund the cure for breast cancer.
So who says kids these days aren’t downright amazing?