One of the great things about losing a significant amount of weight is that your closet is brand new.Old clothes, half-forgotten and resented for being too small, are welcomed back into the fold like long lost cousins.It’s like a shopping spree only you didn’t have to pay for anything.
I am delighted at this turn of events because mornings have gone from cover up to dress up again.
I needed this badly as it turns out because I have not felt even marginally attractive since BC, Before Cancer.Part of that was weight gain, part of it just aging and then cancer hit my life like a tsunami off the coast of Japan and this was followed in short order by surgeries and chemo and massive hair loss and everything else that goes along with fighting cancer.
PC, or Post Cancer, I was too exhausted and in too much pain to worry too much about my appearance.In fact, it was not until several years into my recovery that it all started to bother me.At first, I was just glad to still be here, glad to be anywhere.It was only after I had a few years cancer free under my belt did I REALLY start to want my BC life back, including my appearance.By then I realized that chemo had sped up the aging process considerably while slowing down the rejuvenation and regrowth of Good Things.
One of the surprising benefits of losing weight was actually feeling so darn much better. At first I could not believe it, but now I acknowledge that I sleep better, feel better and generally have more energy. And lo and behold, I have started to…see....reverse aging.My skin got clearer, tauter, my hair shiny and lush and best of all, LONG.I have started to look and feel like my old self again.
Inspired, I redoubled my efforts on the whole weight loss project.This week my work BFF and I walked 10 miles over five days.A very healthy way to spend one’s lunch hour.And again, the more I do, the better I end up feeling.The cause and effect, for those of you who avoid exercise like you do bathing suit shopping, is tangible.It’s what I now call the piggy bank effect (PBE); the more you put in, the more you get out.
So while so many breast cancer survivors on hormone suppressants have emailed me and said they cannot lose weight, I am wholly sympathetic but I urge you all to rethink conventional wisdom on this.It’s not impossible, just hard.Then again, so was fighting cancer and you did that right?
But the rewards, including a brand new closest of clothes tailored to your exact taste, are a pretty darn strong incentive to at least give it a serious effort.
Now excuse me while I go and check out the seemingly brand new dress selection in the back of my closet…
We lost a beloved pet today, a little slip of a cat who only lived eight or so short years.She got sick, my daughter rushed her to the vet but she had some too hard to diagnosis liver condition and we lost her.Just like that.
My daughter is inconsolable which is to be expected.Her animals are also her children and none have ever had better lives than when my daughter takes them in.Pets know that they hit the jackpot when they reside with my daughter.Audi could not have had it better.
She went too soon and I still suspect some form of cancer but it all happened so quickly we never got a chance to find out for sure.Even as my daughter rushed her from one specialist to another, I put Claudia’s: This Is My Cancer A-s Whippin’ Tee Shirt on her in hopes that it would send out good vibes.Initially it did, the ultrasound showed no tumors or growths even as she rapidly declined.The vet called my daughter this morning, informed her they could not wait for her to even get there to say good-bye and it was over.Precious Audi was gone.
I always think anything that goes seriously awry with health is cancer related and sadly, I’m not usually wrong. We will never know why the cat went into liver failure but I know it was from cancer, in my heart, only cancer is that brutal and indiscriminate and harsh.I can smell cancer now, ferret it out somehow.I know cancer because it is the most unfair thing anyone can imagine and it can be brutally quick.My daughter did not even get a chance to say good bye; that hurts my heart for her more than anything. She is the kind of person who really needs closure.
This she gets from her mother.
So, we all are grieving as only people who love and cherish their pets can grieve with deep and abiding pain and regret and emotion.But underneath my particular sorrow is a white hot, bubbling pit of emotional magma in the form of rage against cancer.It threatens to erupt at any time though I have kept it under control because my daughter does not need my baggage right now.In fact, if you asked her, she would tell you that all she needs is her cat back.
I did not think it possible to lay the blame for so much misery in this world on one single thing but I can do that because cancer is what we need to cure first. Before global warming and drought, the ozone layer and failing crops, we need to cure cancer.
Everyone deserves a full and rich life, even our beloved pets. Cancer robs us all of so much.
Rest in peace Audi and when you get to where you are going, you will find the rest of our beloved clan of pets waiting for you.
I only wish we had had the time to tell you what we tell all our pets; that someday will we be together again.
Yes, the cancer survivor needs more shots and boy, after chemo, I really HATE shots.This is because multiple surgeries in mere weeks and the brutal medical treatments took their toll and I lost all resistance to pain. Everything just hurt so much.I started to dread shots and it took nearly two years, post cancer, before I could go for my blood work and not flinch.
So, it occurs to me that I am traveling to a very third world country quite soon.I looked it up and soon concluded that India is not very user friendly to cancer survivors or people with compromised immune systems.
Translation: my oncologist is going to have to weigh in on this one.
So, I called and on wow, that poor admin on the phone.I feel badly for her.She kept trying to tell me that I would at least need a typhoid shot but I got to explain to her that no, I didn’t.
You see, I survived typhoid too.
I was six years old and my entire family had all the necessary shots prior to moving to Hong Kong only that one didn’t take on me.I spent six months in a hospital in Hong Kong as a result.My temp topped out at 106 degrees. Myabe it was only 105 but still enough to kill.I nearly died, the priest came a bunch of times and certainly not to chat.My parents were not allowed inside my room. I was literally in isolation for months.
There are two forms of typhoid out there, the milder version which many survive and the full-fledged form which only ten percent survive even today.It’s still very deadly.
So guess which form I had.You got it, the deadly form.
I was lucky enough to find myself in the care of the very first female doctor in the then-colony of Hong Kong. She knew her stuff.She saved my life.But being isolated from one’s parents for many months, with only nuns and nurses to talk to (and they didn’t speak English) took its toll on an already fragile six year old, trapped in a sterile room in a foreign country.I became very good at keeping my own company.I learned not to get too close to anyone because I never knew when I’d be shut behind those glass walls again.And I was six, I was never able to feel connected to either of my parents again.They had abandoned me for all I knew.My only solace was found in the company of a very elderly Chinese man who ran the hospital.He would come to see me, forgoing the nuns and nurses warnings about not coming in my room.We took tea together every afternoon right after my blood work.That man also saved my life.I wonder if his family ever knew.He used to tell me he would come to see the little girl with the amazing green eyes and then claim he’d never seen such eyes before.He was my hero.He also acted amazed at my Chatty Cathy doll.Every day mind you, he was amazed at the color of my eyes every single days for months.The man was a saint. The nuns would even wash and iron my doll’s clothes, they were also my family for many months.
But I was still never the same again. I could never trust after that.
So maybe it’s not surprising that I totally forgot to tell my oncologist that I’d fought and survived such a deadly disease.Maybe I was so worried about the cancer, I simply forgot.I think the latter is closer to the truth.
It simply did not occur to me. Having beat typhoid was so ingrained in my personality that I don’t think I realized it had set me apart for decades.Now, I’m going to have to talk about it again but at least it’s with my oncologist and he gets me.This might all come as no surprise to him.
A few years before I got cancer I was in Hong Kong on business. I plucked up my courage and went to the hospital that I’d spent six long months of my life in.I was wondering around when a tiny wizened nun, the only one on duty that day who spoke any English apparently, asked me if she could help.
I could not explain.I stopped talking in full sentences, I was trapped and lost again.Even the smell of the hospital was the very same.I stood rooted to the polished entryway utterly terrified and lost.
I was six and deadly sick all over again.
Eventually I was able to tell her that I was not there to visit someone and nor had I just lost a loved one.I was coming…well, heck, I was coming home.
She immediately got very excited and started babbling in Italian, her native language.Eventually, she took my hand and said in careful, measured English, “I know you, I know how you are.You are the little girl who lived.”
It is not often one gets to come full circle this way but I did.I looked at her and nodded, holding back tears I had not even shed as a child.It hit me then that in all the six months in that hospital, despite daily blood work and poking and prodding, I had never shed a tear. God but I was so brave, where did that come from?
Sister Josephine took me on a tour of the hospital and I stopped at one point, frozen in front of a thick wall.
I put my hand on the wall and looked at her, puzzled.She told me later I had kept whispering the word, “Here.”
She smiled and told me my memory was good, that used to be the isolation ward and was likely my old room. Structural changes had closed off that precise room but we went into the next room and I stood at the window – a little taller these days – and put my hand on the glass and looked out, between the tall buildings at the bright slivers of water that I could still see, wishing with all my heart that I was with my parents and not alone and abandoned and fighting a deadly disease all by my tiny, six year old self.
I held back the tears until I was able to call my BFF back in the states and she cried enough for both of us.“Are you going to be ok?” she asked between sobs.
“Yes,” I replied.“ Because I’m the little girl who lived.”
Knowing my luck (entirely bad) with major appliances, it should come as no surprise that my washing machine and I have been at war for the past four and a half years.This is because the machine came with the most glowing and wholly inaccurate review by Consumer Reports magazine ever in the history of reviews.The washing machine, to put it lightly, was a major lemon. Chock full of electronics and bursting at the seams with features I'd never used, the motherboard kept dying so much so that the repairman told me not to even bother to fix it; a new piece of electronics would cost me more than the original machine.
I was livid.This news came after having to replace all the hoses twice, due in no small part to an infestation of rodents in the neighborhood and my neighbors then insisting on using poison which caused the dying critters to seek out a source of water which was always somehow my washing machine. Mice kept eating through the hoses to get to water.I solved the problem by putting a dish of water out in front of my house for several weeks until my murderous neighbors had killed them all off.By then, I was another grand deep into repairs which is about when the repairman told me how expensive it would be to replace the motherboard.He predicted the machine would only last, at most, a few more weeks and that I should simply replace it immediately with something far less complex.
That was more than four years ago.
Determined to get my money's worth, I would go into my garage and faithfully push the start button precisely eight times to override the shorted out integrated circuit.I would do so again at precisely 21 minutes into the cycle.For four and a half…..long….years.
Then last night the machine just stopped working, button pushing no longer had any effect and then the lid locking mechanism wouldn’t unlock.I spent the better part of an hour pounding on the lid in an effort to liberate my frightened linens to no avail. This morning the monster at least gave me back my laundry by mysteriously unlocking the lid all on its own and I proceeded to reward it. After I had sprung my terrified towels, I unceremoniously unplugged Old Faithless.
“You’re done,” I said none too kindly. Then, like the proverbial bully on the playground, I gave it a final shove.
I then spent five minutes on line looking over the cheapest, simplest washers and another 20 minutes at lunch buying the most simplistic model on display at the local Sears outlet.I bought it in person because if I buy anything from Sears on line they spend the next three weeks cyber stalking me with scores of repeat 1-800 calls demanding I take an on line (minimum time to get to a real person is about 30 minutes) survey.The in-person approach meant I could forgo screaming at some innocent person over the phone about the 80 plus calls I’d received in the past few weeks.This way, everybody wins.
I am looking forward to a fresh start, a new relationship with this new washer.I average about two maybe three loads a week so we won’t be spending a great deal of quality time together but neither will I be fantasizing about taking a sledge hammer to a piece of metal or resorting to calling an inanimate object names that would make a sailor blush. Again, everybody wins.
The whole waiting four plus years was impressive, even for me.It was not even a matter of cost, I got out of the Sears outlet for around $500 and change.It was the principal of the thing, I’d paid more than a grand for that washer, was another grand into repairs and darn if I wasn’t going to something out of that now sizeable investment.Old Faithless never made it to the decade milestone I fully expect out of my major appliances but even so, I got another four and a half years out of that faithless monster which helps mollify me.
My family however, is not so sure.They watched, disbelieving, for the past four and a half years, urging me to just buy another washer for God’s sake.My stubbornness surprised even me.I wanted to see how much longer I could use it and four and a half years is a far cry from a few weeks which is what the repairman predicted. Ha.
I haven’t told anyone in my circle of friends and family, I think the shock might be too much for them.Everyone honestly thought I was going to be stuck in my garage, pushing buttons for the next decade and beyond and I would have, had Old Faithless not finally given up the ghost. As a rule, being a cancer survivor and all, I think tenacity serves me well and I am therefore exceedingly pleased with how long I was able to make that lemon last.Old Faithless will not be missed and nor does the new model have any electronics or even buttons, it is the least complex model possible with good old fashioned dials and minimal features.
The weight loss plateau didn’t even bother to sneak up on me.It just slammed me in the face, or the scale, to be more precise.The weight loss didn’t even have the grace to slow down, it simply came to a grinding….abrupt….halt.
So, my weight loss progress now officially dead in the water, I stewed, pardon the pun, for a very brief time before shrugging off the frustration and redoubling my efforts. This meant picking up extra fitness classes to teach and walking more than one and a half miles every day at work, no matter what.
Thus far? Nothing.Nada.Zip.The scale refuses to budge even another half pound but I’m not defeated. I know that anything worth having is worth working REALLY HARD for.
I cannot run sniveling to my BFFs about this because one of them walks with me faithfully every day and the other is openly bemused by my efforts.Teh BFF who is amused is a pro at the old weight loss game and thinks my continual discovery of all this is nothing short of high humor.For her, hitting a plateau is inevitable, like death and taxes or her dogs digging up the garden.She would simply shrug and tell me I was lucky I didn’t have to diet my entire life like most women. Plus, she says I look a million times already better for pity’s sake.
What this whole weight loss thing doesn’t know is that I’m stronger, smarter and infinitely more patient than it is.I fought and beat cancer so this whole weight loss grinding to a halt doesn’t faze me, doesn’t rattle me, doesn’t even remotely discourage me.I know what true discomfort is, I’ve done chemo so this is nothing.I’ve accomplished something far more difficult so employing the Vulcan death grip on my bathroom scale every morning comes quite naturally to me at this point in my life. I am used to being very focused, this is not my first rodeo as the saying goes.
So, I continue to work at this, knowing that eventually one of us – my weight or my determination – is going to have to blink.
And it’s not going to be my determination as evidenced by the fact that the second I finished writing this blog entry the scale finally moved again.
My daughter and her husband got a new puppy. Rather, they saved yet another canine life as they wanted their very spoiled, highly neurotic dog Max to have a companion.
Things never go the way you think they will.
After carefully selecting the breed and type and temperament and interviewing her, Pepper, a.k.a., Zena, turned out to be something of a puppy bully. Already more than 50 pounds of pure muscle, the dog clearly adores my daughter and her husband but at least in the first few days, is spending most of her time thoughtfully roughing up poor Max.Max, I need to say here, is used to my dog Sophie who plays joyfully and endlessly with him but never too roughly.Zena is an entirely different matter, she’s the neighborhood tough girl, that’s for sure.Underneath that silky fur is a dog who has done hard time.And she likely has doggy tattoos.
Once my daughter explained she was still less than a year old, I personally relaxed. She would be fine, she’s just a puppy and in a brand new environment to boot. She doesn’t yet realize her fortune; that this is now her home and that she’s staying.She will adjust, it just takes time.
Meanwhile Claudia The Baby is proving to be quite the kitty aficionado.This means that she basically tolerates and ignores the dogs, a point of view that clearly bewilders my daughter.Claudia The Baby has loved cats from a very early age, this much is clear.Claudia The Baby is going to want her own cat from the moment she can articulate that wish in plain English.My daughter has been suitably warned.
Meanwhile, though my son-in-law and daughter are worried and overly careful, I’m finding myself more laid back about the whole thing even though Sophie is going to have to deal with this tough newcomer when I travel.I consider Sophia very sheltered and pampered, not at all a match for her muscular, tough looking exterior.Sophie wakes me up for reassurance when she has a puppy nightmare and sleeps almost on top of me when she is perfectly fine and safe.
My dog, alas, is as vicious as a powder puff.
This is why my daughter nearly doubled over in laughter when her tough guy neighbor nervously inquired about the ‘vicious pit bull’ she had in her backyard. After wiping the grin off her face, she calmly told him that little Sophie was a Staffordshire bull terrier, wonderful with children and not aggressive at all.The neighbor did not believe her and my daughter had a fine time the rest of Sophie’s visit, going into the backyard within ear shot of the nervous neighbor and calling little Sophie ‘killer’ and ‘snake’ to amuse herself.
My kid has a great sense of humor.
Meanwhile, I am confident that Zena, puppy warrior that she is, will figure out her place in our family.She will learn, with good old fashioned dog sense and a little time and lots of love, that there is a time to be tough (like when fighting cancer) and a time to sit back and let the good times roll.
She is going to be a great dog even if Max isn’t so sure yet. I’ve learned from experience that the best and strongest relationships always take time, even if they are canine based.
Because of the near fire disaster with my broken dishwasher − and I really did read and appreciate all the cautionary warnings from my readers − I am suitably paranoid about appliances now.This is also because on a recent trip to visit the boyfriend I was making microwave popcorn, heard a strange noise and turned about just in time to see his microwave catch fire, if only for a few seconds.
“Well,” I told the dogs placidly and I waved a hand through the smoky air. “We probably won’t be having popcorn tonight.”
When the boyfriend called to make sure I had arrived safe and sound (he was working a 24 hour shift at the fire station so his dad had picked me up at the airport), I calmly informed him that he needed a new microwave.This, I explained carefully as the smoke cleared, was not my fault.
Now I am not so sure. I think I am cursed when it comes to appliances or something.
Upon returning home, I discovered that my trusty microwave had also ceased functioning. Mine didn’t go out in a blaze or glory or catch fire but it also no longer heated anything up despite the typical humming noise it was making. Uh oh.I stopped using it immediately and started searching for a replacement because finding the right over the range model isn’t always easy.My son-in-law approved the final choice, we triple checked the dimensions and I finally got around to picking it up from the local home improvement store last weekend but not before I realized that I depend on a microwave more than I do any other appliance in my home (next to my Ipad).
In the roughly two weeks that it took me to get around to replacing Old Faithful, I sorely missed my microwave.I also rediscovered my vegetable steamer which is a very Good Thing because that turned out to be way faster than the stove top.I cleverly steamed vegetables on the weekends and then realized I still had to figure out how to reheat them on weeknights.Brilliant.
This is when I decided that I had to get a new microwave.Luckily my son-in-law is very handy and offered to install it when he picked up Claudia The Baby last Saturday.The Messiah truly commeth.It took both of us because as it turns out, over range microwaves are roughly the weight of a full grown sperm whale.Even so, some 90 minutes later, I had my life back, meaning a brand new microwave in working order in my kitchen.
And warm vegetables again.
The dead one was of course, immediately banished to the garage.I then set out to find a green way to recycle Old Faithful and found this not so easy.While nearly all the local recycling facilities now take electronics, only one, a local storage facility at that, accepts microwaves. I called in advance to make sure they really took microwaves and set a time to drop her off.
I am going to miss her, she was blandly white and sturdy, not pretty and sleek in brushed silvery steel like the new one, but she faithfully warmed my veggies and coffee for nearly a decade. She melted butter (this was when I was actually using butter of course) and made feeding Claudia The Baby much easier because I prepare her food in advance and just reheat when the baby comes calling.Old Faithful will be missed.
Meanwhile, no excuses, I am eating SUPER healthy, veggies and freshly prepared foods, all very low calorie of course because the plateau for weight loss hit with a vengeance this past week and I need to really stick to the regime. Everyone who has any personal contact with me has been suitably forewarned.
Late last week somebody at work left popcorn unattended in a microwave at work and it caught fire. The fire alarms went off and I dutifully went outside to find yet another dying microwave on the sidewalk.
This, I realized, was somehow my fault though I had not made any popcorn in weeks at the office nor had I even been downstairs at any point.
“I’m sorry,” I said to no one in particular.And I meant it. The fire trucks rolled in, I took video on my Iphone for my fireman boyfriend and because it was the end of the work day, took off to run an errand to CostCo.
Meanwhile, the boyfriend was so not buying the video I had texted him.
“This is the third one you have killed in three weeks!” he texted me back.
Yes, I am sure this is all somehow my fault.
My BFF and I mused about this over dinner this weekend.“Could really be your fault,” she said thoughtfully as we dug into pasta (carefully budgeted for in my diet) and roast chicken (carefully budgeted for in her diet).
“Considering how much radiation I took to wipe out those cancer cells, you just might be right,” I replied cheerfully. At times, I remain silently astonished that I do not glow neon green.
But in the end, neon or not, still such a small price to pay for still being cancer free.
If there is one thing that battling cancer taught me is that I could no longer sweat the small stuff.This is why when my daughter called Extremely Distraught because Claudia The Baby would not go to sleep, I had to try VERY HARD not to deliver my advice with my trademark humor.She is hormonal, pregnant and forever too hard on herself. As she sobbed into the phone, I could hear little Claudia The Baby’s feet hit the floor as she pounded a quick get-a-way down the hall.Run baby, run.
Cue the maniacal toddler laugh maw-ha-ha.And yes, I stifled a laugh myself.Invariably, Claudia gave in and fell asleep though it took several hours and a lot more tears from both mother and child.The next night, armed with second hand advice via me watching endless reruns of Super Nanny, my daughter braced for another round. I had to watch Super Nanny because my daughter frankly never gave me any grief as a child about bedtime, the grief all came much later when she hit puberty.
Yet, post Super Nanny advice, a mere 45 minutes later the dust had settled and the baby was shockingly, sound asleep.Super Nanny, thank you.My daughter was calm, not a tear had been shed and she was clearly more confident in her parenting skills than ever before.Win the bedtime battle and you win the war.Claudia had given up the ghost; well, at least for the next eight or nine hours.
I knew this would happen of course but I never said the dreaded four words (I told you so) that every adult child cringes upon hearing. This was only a phase, I stressed, this too shall pass.
I know this because before my daughter draws another mental breath, Claudia The Baby will be pedaling on her tricycle, juice box in hand.Another moment will go by and she will be off to Kindergarten.And before my daughter knows it, CJ will be screaming at her mother and calling me in tears because her mother is just SO WRONG about something or other and CJ just cannot STAND it. And yet again, God willing and the creek don’t rise, I will get to make soothing noises and offer support and sympathy while this too passes.
And knowing how close I came to dying, I am looking forward to every minute of it.
I wait for four long years for it, one event, one specialty, once every four years during the Olympics. I stay up as late or get up as early as necessary, I track it on line and I plan for it, wait for it, live for that one moment.
I want to see who will be crowded the next Lord of the Rings.
I like gymnastics, men’s in particular, but my heart is always solidly in the rings competition where there are some nearly 40 year old men still competing.You have to love that sort of dedication and skill to a craft that doesn’t get its due alongside the unforgiving pommel horse, high and parallel bars to say nothing of the floor exercise.
This is because the rings are not the most difficult men’s gymnastics event; in fact, they are about strength, strength and strength.No soaring releases, no gasps of amazement, in fact, most who watch do not even realize the amazing strength it takes to just pull one’s self up on the apparatus.
I love the rings. I love the specialists who do nothing but train on the rings. Not only are their physiques collectively impressive (this is where you get to gasp with amazement ladies), but the quiet strength and slow, steady determination is just thrilling.It goes dead quiet in my house during the rings, even the dog snores more quietly as I hold my breath and wait for the next true and real Lord of the Rings to be crowded.
This year some young pup from Brazil took the gold and even though I think the young man from China was better, it really doesn’t matter who wins to me.I just want to watch as each athlete is silently suspended in midair between those two unforgiving circles of metal, as they make athletic history.An iron cross used to be the most difficult thing they do; now it’s one of the easiest.The inverted to plank moves take my breath away, their muscle bunching up like mountains, expressions impassive but eyes clearly intent with concentration. Take your time, I whisper, take your time, the world is watching but still, you have to take your time.
Landings are not the same as in other events either.They are much easier than the high bar or floor but still I find myself yelling, “Stick the landing! Stick it!” And when they do, I cheer and applaud and when they don’t, I am all sympathy and remote emotional support because for just a few moments, they soared, suspended, above the rest.
I found something pretty special when I decided to work REALLY HARD at losing weight.
I found control.
When you are diagnosed with cancer, your life is turned upside down. You live by the phone, by doctor appointments, by whenever the pathology lab can get you results.
Your life is no longer your own.
I remember driving to and from chemo and radiation treatments thinking ‘When am I ever going to feel normal again?”
The answer was, a really LONG TIME from when I first asked myself that question, well beyond two years and heading into three.
It takes that long sometimes and then, sometimes you still just have to DO something.
That’s what happened to me. I need to Take Action in order to feel in control of my life again and ironically, my Oprah-esque, Ah Ha moment came when I got on the scale this morning, still losing weight, feeling good.I glanced in the mirror as I exited my bathroom, and didn’t avert my eyes for a change.
Well hi there, there you are, I said to my reflection.
I was back.
Sure, I had a way to go on the weight loss project, in fact, I have set such an aggressive goal for myself that I'm still slightly less than half way there but even so, I could see myself again.
After cancer, I found I had to ask permission for everything; traveling, minor medical procedures, even if I had the weekend ‘off’ or to myself because my daughter had a baby and I was all she and her husband had to babysit when she went back to work.I had regressed to a powerless teenager, when I had absolutely no voice, no power, no control, no life.I felt exactly like I did when I was 15, my mother selfishly insisting I be allowed no social life or any after school activities and forcing me to come home every day after school to babysit, cook and clean until late every night.This appalling exploitation lasted from the time I was very young until I turned 15 and my father came home from some nameless long business trip to witness the rather impressive melt down I staged over not being able to accept a role in a school play.He asked why and I told him the truth: mom says I have to come home every day and do her work.
Leave us just say that I got the role and my mother had to be a real housewife and child minder to her own children for the first time in many years.She was livid, of course, but I still got a life, at least a little bit of one. It was a victory for me and major regression for her, she could no longer mysteriously take off at 3:23 p.m. every weekday and show back up right before my father came home or, if he was traveling, well after bedtime.We kids all never figured out where she went or what she did.She didn’t drink or do drugs so it wasn’t that; we never figured out what transpired when she took off like that.I think now she had a serious case of clinical depression and longed to escape her life of caring for five children and a traveling, absent husband but she’s gone now, dead nearly four years, so we will never for sure. To her credit, she did try to tip the scales back in her favor by angrily insisting after my father left town on another business trip that she would commit me to a mental hospital if I didn't meekly go back to slaving and running the house for her. I responded by pointing out that she would never spring for the money needed for some loony bin and that even if she did, I'd be happy for the rest I'd get away from her. The threat was never so much as hinted at again as mere days later, I auditioned for another school play and got another part. A star (in her own life) had been born.
Fast forward to the present and cancer left me feeling very much like I did at 15, pre-melt down, pre-empowerment.Powerless and angry and longing to run away from the insanity and cruelty and bondage that my life had become.I wanted to feel like I could do something, anything that resembled having a voice in my own life.
And then I decided to make a serious effort to lose weight.It didn’t hit me at first as I’d never really had to lose weight before so I didn't connect the dots.I had no idea that I’d wake up a few short months into the process, more than 20 pounds lighter and feeling considerably more empowered in my life but I did.I woke up this morning thinking, if I can do this, I can do anything I set my mind to.
I still feel that, the sense of control and empowerment that had been ripped from me so brutally when I got cancer.I realize now that there really are some things in my control, weight is one of them and having a voice in my life is another.I realize this now because about a month into the whole weight loss process I had called my daughter and told her as gently as possible that as much as I loved and would continue to watch my granddaughter, I also needed one weekend day a week off, I was exhausted.She immediately made other arrangements; setting up a baby sitting co-op with a trusted friend.I got the day off I needed and little Claudia now gets to play with a dear friend’s little girl every week.A perfect solution and little did I know, just the beginning.If I need to make a change in my life, I darn well will.It’s not cancer I can tell myself, it’s just weight loss. It’s just getting down time.It’s just whatever it is that I need in my life.
I can do this because every time I look in the mirror now I realize, it’s MY life, my destiny and I'm in control.