Friday, May 9, 2014

#Cancer journey: "It's a lot of food for a little person."

Taken 4/27/2014
You know, I've never, ever thought of myself as a “little” person. It's true that I'm not terribly tall at 5' 3”, but my build has always been—shall we say—stocky. In my hometown, the “attractive” girls were either zaftig or willowy, neither of which has ever described me—I was always somewhere in the middle. I spent years on the diet wagon, fighting to maintain a certain weight (mostly based on my mother's urgings and society's standards; that weight was about 10 pounds less than I weigh now, give or take five or six) and miserable about myself. I was constantly receiving mixed signals from my mother: “You need to lose weight. You need to clean your plate. You're a little heavy, dear. Here, have some more pancakes.” You know the type. Fans of the TV show Absolutely Fabulous might remember one of the “flashback” episodes of Eddie and Pats in school. Patsy has come over and Eddie's mother feeds her a huge plate of food, saying, “You don't want to be a skinny balliny long legs, big banana feet,” and then hands Eddie some oatmeal or something and says, “Or a roly poly pudding that no one wants to meet.” This is just so typical of how women are taught in our society. We are never okay the way we are, we always need to change something. And it's a bunch of bullshit.


What brought this on? This morning I went for CT scans of my pelvis, abdomen and chest to check on how well the chemotherapy is working, to see if the tumors infesting my abdomen—intestines and uterus and ovaries and liver—have been affected at all, slowed down, shrunken. And to see if any have made their way into my chest. I'd had a rough week between one thing and another. Colon cancer causes one to walk a fine line with their digestive system, trying to maintain a balance, and I was out of balance most of the week.  One medication will cause this side effect, another will cause the opposite and you pray that they will just cancel each other out, but of course it never works that way.  I was nauseated when I tried to eat because things weren't moving through the way they should, and just generally miserable, and I lost in the vicinity of eight of my carefully regained pounds. Today, for the first time in almost a week, I was actually hungry. So, after the scans, we stopped off at IHOP. I ordered a bacon and cheese omelet with sourdough toast and ate about half of it. Those omelets are big, and my stomach was shrunk, but I thought I did fairly well eating that much, and I know I felt a lot better for the nutrition. As the server cleared the dishes and brought me a box, she said, “It's a lot of food for a little person, isn't it?”

Taken 7/5/2013
A little person. Me. I'm now a little person, because due to the problems I've faced between the original blockage and now the chemotherapy side effects, I've lost a lot of weight and am actually almost down to what society thinks I should weigh (which means I think I'm dangerously close to too thin). In the past year, give or take, I've lost 50 pounds, mostly since September. I am continually complimented on how great I look, how pretty I am (even with a shaved head). And it worries me.

Don't misunderstand me: it is definitely nice to receive the compliments. However, not everyone who comments knows why I'm suddenly so much thinner. Will they think I'm actually concerned about that sort of thing? Will they think they need to lose weight to fit into societal standards? I hope not. Because let's be honest: fashion designers are designing clothes that would look good on a willowy boy's body. And then trying to force women to look like that. That's not how we're supposed to look, my friends. We are the bearers of the future of the Earth in our broad hips. We nurture the ongoing growth through our bountiful breasts, and we bring forth new life from our wombs (sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively), and we should never, ever be ashamed or unhappy about how we look, whether it is because we think we need to “just lose five more pounds” or just gain a couple pounds” or “just have my breasts increased by one cup size”...


Well, of course, even if I hadn't already decided to not have children long ago, it would be impossible now. Once the tumors are shrunken enough for a surgery, my uterus and at least one ovary are coming out. But you catch the gist of it, right? Women are life and bounty, but we're being forced to try to make ourselves disappear. Don't stand for it. Take up that space! Spread out, be comfortable.  And know that you are beautiful.

So, that's where my head has been all day, thinking these sorts of thoughts while I go through my e-mails and follow along to see what my friends are up to.  Happily, most of the women I know are comfortable with themselves (which is probably why we're friends) and don't worry overly much about society and its standards.  So, let's all go out and try to infect at least one girl each with our "bad attitudes," shall we?

20 comments:

  1. Oh God..where do I start....with the "mother" issues, or "what little i know about cancer"???

    I love you, Katy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awww, thanks. *hugs* Love you too!

      Delete
  2. I had to go on a special diet when I nursed my son due to his multiple food allergies. I was always hungry but people kept telling me how thin I was for a mom. I never want to be that hungry again. I also went through some very poor periods of my life when I was a struggling actress and I think I'm more frightened of the thought of going hungry than I am of the thought of being fat.
    I think, when someone loses weight, its considered nice to acknowledge it, even if it is a reminder that things aren't quite right.
    That being said, I still enjoy your blogs and posts. I'm amazed that you are keeping it up through this journey.
    Hang in there. I'm rooting for you. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm with you. The last time I lost serious weight back in the mid aughts was because we just didn't have money for food. I was eating about every third day. Aiee. Thanks for your support!

      Delete
  3. What an awesome post! I was thinking about this topic yesterday (in regards to the book Close Call) and it occurred to me that society (which is run ultimately by men) also wants us to be insecure, because if we're too busy worrying about how much we weigh, we won't have time to stand up to their ridiculous rules and *gasp* we might even gain equality. Imagine that: men not having the ultimate control. So, ladies, stop worrying about how you look and start worrying about how to make a better life for yourselves and your sisters and your daughters. And btw, Katy, you are awesome, and I'm following your journey and wish you all the best for every day xx.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Dionne! Also, if they keep us insecure and swiping at one another cattily instead of happy and secure and working together, they maintain control. It's insidious. *hugs* So happy for your support.

      Delete
  4. I soooo needed to hear this tonight. I've been angry at myself for gaining weight. By the way, I think you look beautiful in all the photos you've posted. And this post is extremely inspiring. What's important is that we love and accept ourselves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly. Be happy with who you are, you'll be amazed at the difference it'll make in your life.

      Delete
  5. Awesome piece of writing. Very true! I still love that picture of you in the dress - reminds me of the day we went shopping! It was the perfect dress for you! Love you! Keli

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks :-) I wonder how it would fit me now? Probably sort of like a sack... I filled it out then, but that was a good 40 pounds ago... Love you too!

      Delete
  6. I've gone hungry. Only for six weeks but it was enough. You're right we should be happy with who we are.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's horrible, going hungry. All last fall and winter I was always hungry because of the obstruction (of course I didn't know it was an obstruction, I just knew that if I did break down and eat something solid, I would regret it for days).

      Delete
  7. Katy, as usual, such an insightful post. I'm so glad I know you. It never mattered to me how much you weighed. We've never met so everything I know of you has been through thoughtful exchanges over email or on FB. I don't want you to look "thin" because that's what society thinks you should, I want you to be a HEALTHY you and whether that's a thin or heavy you, it won't matter. It only matters that your health improves and we all get to enjoy many many more of your posts! You are beautiful no matter with hair or not, fat or thin. Take care, my friend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Deb. Much love to you and I hope you are doing well yourself! *hugs*

      Delete
  8. I found it hard to walk around continueally reassuring others that I was OK. I was not OK. I had cancer and was fighting for my life. Love is wonderful especially when you don't have to hold everyone else up. We are each different and I barely know you but I had to isolate myself and treat myself. Survived the unsurvivable, still I hate to be described as a cancer survivor. I have survived so much more. All positive thoughts and energy to you in your fight. Keep as much of it for you as you can or need. You never know when you will need every reserve you have within your strength emotionally and physically...but who am I but one? Never ending love and strength to you. Follow your intuitions stridently. It is your life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, for your support and for sharing your story. I'm not the type to falsely reassure people. If I'm not feeling well and they ask how I'm feeling, I'll say, "Not that well today."

      I'm sorry you had to isolate when you were going through this. I don't know what I would do without my friends' support and encouragement, even if they are scattered all over the country (and all over the world), I know they are out there and it gives me strength.

      Best wishes to you!

      Delete

My apologies for the moderation, but I am spending almost an hour a day deleting spam messages. I will approve all comments as quickly as possible.