Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How Breast Cancer Changed My life

Excerpt from my old blog:

October 3, 2007.

My mother has breast cancer.

Why is there never anything helpful to say about these sorts of things. "Sorry you're sick. Hope you don't die." "Hmmm, can I have all your stuff when you're dead?" It sucks that I sit there on the phone, gaping and just having no idea what to say. Maybe they should teach a college course on "shit to say that doesn't sound completely stupid in the face of a tragedy." I know I should have signed up for it.

Yes, they caught it early. Yes, breast cancer is survivable. Yes, it's still one of the leading killers of women in the United States. I know all this. I knew it even before she told me she had it.

And people keep asking me "If there's anything I can do..." and there's a bitter, nasty part of me that wants to scream at them... "What the FUCK do you think you can do? Because, really, if you're sitting on the cure for cancer just so you can offer it to me at a convenient time, you're a real jackass." I don't say that, though, because it's rude. And I do know that people love me and care, and they wish there was something they could do. And I'm not even mad at them, I'm just mad at the situation. Still... "What the fuck, man, what the fuck. No, there's nothing you can DO. There's nothing I can do. We have to just hope that there's something the goddamn doctor can do aside from sending my mom a BIG HUGE bill."

Ditto, I'm mad at my mom. One of the first things she said to me was "Don't tell your dad, ok?" Oh for fuck's sake woman. Look, I know she's vain and self-centered from time to time, but jesus h christ, get a stepladder and get the fuck over it already. She's been divorced for fifteen YEARS. It's about time that she stop giving a royal FUCK what he thinks. What does she think he's gonna do, anyway? Gloat? My dad may not have been the most wonderful husband on the planet, but jesus, he's not like that. And even if he used to be, he's not anymore.

I feel sort of alone in this... my friends don't really like my mom much. She's sort of neurotic and immature. I don't have any family support in this; I've disowned (and been disowned by) most of my aunts and cousins and the like. It might be nice to talk to someone else who actually cares about my mom, you know? My friends care about me, and believe me, I appreciate that. But they don't generally care about my MOM. That's ok, and I don't blame them for it, but gods, I do wish I had someone to talk to who does care about her.

I can't decide if the timing of the rest of my life is good, or bad. I have Darcy's birthday party this weekend, and Carol's baby shower next weekend, and I still have a ton of stuff to do, so I'm staying really busy. But I'm also having a lot of trouble focusing on the tasks at hand. I stood there blankly at the bank the other day for like ten minutes with my mouth open, disconcerting the teller, while I tried to remember why I'd gone there in the first place. (To get quarters.)

I dunno. I hate feeling lost and useless like this.

And I don't know what to do.

This followed a doctor's appointment in July where my doctor said "I'm not liking your A1C results... I'd like you to try to lose 10% of your body weight - about 22 pounds - by the time I see you in January or I'm going to be forced to put you on diabetic medication."

And was followed by this picture being taken of me.

I weighed about 227 pounds.

My asthma, my ankle, and my fear of falling down (every time I've fallen in the last few years, I've broken a bone... I have crappy bone density from years of steroid use, and I'm a klutz on top of that. All in all, it doesn't add up to a happy and safe life.) were my excuses to keep from working out. My attitude was an excuse to not diet ("diets don't work!" "I can't lose that much weight!" "It's pointless!").

But after those three things - and they say these things come in threes... oh, wait, that's celebrity deaths... whatever - I decided to change my life.

I might not be able to change my genetics - I now have breast cancer history on both sides of my family - but I could change my eating habits and weight.

My husband and I started "watching what we ate" just after November of that year. And started weight watcher's "officially" the first week of January, 2008.

You all know the rest of the story... my husband's lost 90+ pounds. I've lost 87 (ish) pounds. I started walking; he started running. We've changed our lives a LOT.

Two weeks ago, I walked the Susan G Komen 3-Day... sixty miles.

Today, I read this article in Fitness Magazine:
"Women think breast cancer is mainly related to family history," says Melinda Irwin, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology and public health at Yale School of Medicine. "But in truth, only about 10 percent of cases are. That means 90 percent of breast cancer may be caused by environmental or lifestyle factors like weight."
It's a good article, and I highly recommend it. It's encouraging to think that - what I did in the depths of "I need to do something" fear - I made the right choice.

This is me, today. (Well, technically, two weeks ago.) And my mom. I weigh 134 pounds. I can walk sixty miles. My mother's been cancer free for almost 2 years. And her surgery scar is really minimal.

4 Ways to Beat Breast Cancer

1. Watch your weight.

If your BMI (body mass index) is 25 or above, work to lose 10 percent of your weight.

2. Get moving.

Exercise for two to three hours a week for the ultimate protection, says Melinda Irwin, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology and public health at Yale School of Medicine. "Aim for 60 percent of your maximum oxygen intake, where you have to take a deep breath every other word if you're talking," she adds.

3. Schedule regular sweat sessions.

Chores don't have the same anticancer effect as working out, because "they tend to be start-and-stop," Irwin explains. "You could spend an hour in the garden and raise your heart rate for a total of just 15 minutes. When you exercise, you get continuous moderate-intensity activity."

4. Veg out.

Eat cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. They contain isothiocyanates and indole-3-carbinol, compounds that may prevent the growth of tumors.


I've been enjoying my subscription to Fitness Magazine (I got to try it on the cheap through a special offer on my Sargento Cheese sticks...) I'm going to renew my subscription. When I do this, I'll be getting 2 free subscriptions to give away as gifts.

If you'd like to win one of these free subscriptions, leave me a comment!! Post about this contest on your blog!! Or twitter about this contest!! On November 1, I'll select two lucky winners and you'll get a year's subscription to Fitness magazine! (yes, if you do all three things, you'll get three chances to win!)


Diane, Fit to the Finish said...

Wonderful post and soooooo inspiring. Both from a weight loss perspective and from your perspective about your mom's diagnosis.


I'll twitter this for you too!

Lori said...

Thank you for being so open and honest about your mom's cancer. I am so glad she is doing well!

Kyra said...

This is such an inspiring post. You have come so far since that day. I am in awe of your doing the 60 mile walk.

flybabyf said...

Big hugs! You and your mother are real winners!

flybababyf (almost 1year cancer free) following you on the fitness path!

Miz said...

so so so inspiring sad and empowering.

Can not wait to meet you in person at Fitbloggin!

Anonymous said...

Wow. It's amazing to see what you've accomplished all in one post, right??

Hanlie said...

Thanks for sharing! You are simply amazing!