"Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside." -- Mark Twain
Does this chemo make me look fat?
If I had to have cancer, maybe I'd have just enough to get me back into my skinny jeans. Don't get me wrong. I didn't want to lose weight to the point of being alarmingly thin, or even uncomfortably hungry. I knew that it was critical to maintain my health and strength in order to tolerate the treatments and fight the cancer. Still, would it be so bad if I dropped a few pounds?
I received dietary advice from all quarters and many admonitions to immediately begin eating macrobiotic or vegan. I asked my oncologist about this and he gave me an answer I loved. He said, "Eat whatever you want." He told me that any abrupt change to my nutritional habits would put strain on my system, and since I generally eat a healthy diet, I should keep eating what I normally would. He also said that he likes his patients pudgy and I should eat a little more than usual, to put some padding on in case I needed it.
"Oh, waiter! More Häagen-Dazs, please! Doctor's orders!"
I stocked up on my favorite delicacies -- ice cream, pâté, pasta with truffle sauce, and all of the gooey, stinky cheeses I adore. Also a good supply of fruit, vegetables and healthy proteins. I even went so far as to get a six-pack of Ensure, in case I really couldn't keep food down and needed to make every bite count with maximum calories. I just didn't know what to expect.
During chemo, I was surprised to find that I could eat everything. Each day I was pumped full of anti-nausea meds before they hit me with the hard stuff. This made me bloated and uncomfortable, but I never lost my appetite. The main side effect from chemo was that I was extremely tired, but that was easily dealt with by taking regular cat naps, often with actual cat.
In the first weeks of treatment, I had few side effects apart from fatigue. I thought perhaps I had dodged a bullet and would skate through without much discomfort.
In thinking I had dodged a bullet, I had merely jumped the gun. It would be clear in the coming weeks just what a tough battle this would be, and the best weight for me was my fighting weight.
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