I can’t see clearly – literally or figuratively. The smoke was terrible today and I’ve been obsessed with one thought that I can’t get past right now.
I’ve been slowly coming to the realization over the last couple of weeks that my medication is causing me to gain weight. (This is my hypothesis at least.) I haven’t talked about it much, but I have been running and biking this summer and desperately trying to get back to where I was last summer (running a 5-mile loop, and – more importantly – regaining the feeling of flying that I covet).
I felt like I was making steady progress at first and I was encouraged because I felt like I lost the weight I had gained during chemo (oh how ice cream soothes a sore mouth and a wounded spirit). Perhaps my skinny jeans were still a tad tight but I felt like my face lost its bloated look and I could see some definition in my stomach again. (I keep saying “I felt” because I do not make a habit of weighing myself.) I sighed with relief at getting back to myself.
To throw a wrench in the works, I started taking a medication called Tamoxifen in April. It is an estrogen interruptor since my tumor was fueled by estrogen (referred to as being hormone positive). The good news is that this medication reduces my chances of recurrence (remember the 8%? The Tamoxifen is an integral part of getting there.). At first I was annoyed by the hot flashes I was experiencing a couple of times a day (just as the summer temps were heating up – nothing like sweating on top of sweat). Just as I realized that the hot flashes had miraculously dissipated, I wondered why my pants were still tight. Three good runs a week had always been enough in the past to maintain my normal size and I was throwing in a bike ride or two on top of that!
Just as thoughts of Tamoxifen side effects were swirling around my head, I caught part of Gloria Steinem’s interview on Fresh Air last week. Terry Gross asked about Steinem’s breast cancer diagnosis and lumpectomy just after she turned 50. I can’t get her reply out of my head.
It made me realize several things. One was – this may sound strange if I try to say it short – but…I was less afraid of dying than of aging…
Last year, I came to terms with the fact that breast cancer could kill me, but now I am having to come to terms with the fact that if I survive this thing, I will have to deal with all of its physical ramifications; this includes the deterioration of my body due to my surgeries and treatments, as well as getting older. I consider all of this part of my personal aging process: the loss of a breast, the acquisition of scars, menopause a decade early, hot flashes, and now weight gain. I don’t know how I feel about all of that.
I would never say that it would be better to die, but right now it all just feels terrible and overwhelming. It all makes me feel shallow: being worried about my physical appearance. I am better than this! But then I stomp and pout that I have already given up so much and I don’t want to give up my size 4. Dammit. I’ve worked too hard for it!
How has your body changed over the span of your life? Have you ever had to deal with weight gain that was out of your control? How did you cope? I need some help.
* I better set some goals in order to fight the crazy.
Week: Start getting out of bed when my alarm goes off. (Ha! I woke up at 6 am last week but rarely got out of bed before 6:30. Baby steps.)
Month: Find an eye doctor and make an appointment. (I’ve never had my eyes checked! Another side effect of Tamoxifen is eye issues. I’ll spare you the gory details.)
Year: Finish in the Top 3 Survivors at next springs’s Race For The Cure. (I’ve never been fast and this seems especially daunting considering my current mental state, but I thought I’d just put it out there.)