Breast cancer treatment changes everything about your body. Everything. Every. Thing.
First I had surgery. That changed my breasts and torso. I went on the comfort food diet post surgery and prior to chemo, that changed how ‘fluffy’ I was. Next was chemo, that bloated me beyond all recognition. Another surgery to change my upper body some more. Finally, my oncologist gave me the news that I needed to lose weight if I wanted to reduce my chances of re-occurrence. Great. Just great.
I have never really had a problem losing weight, I just always found it again quite easily. This time I was going to need to lose it and keep it lost because chemo sucks. No two ways about it, chemo sucks.
Since chemo sucks and I truly want to do everything I can not to need to go through it again I researched diets and came across The Ketogenic diet. My next door neighbor was doing it with success, the neighbor across the way was doing it with success, so why not give it a go? Success in a community and numbers!
I lost weight, so did my husband. I had a target, I needed to get to a normal BMI, 24.9 is the top end, I am not greedy. I needed to get to a waist circumference of less than half my height in inches, who knew that was a thing, right? Ok, so let’s make this a game and do it right and have fun with it. We did, right up until it was time to go back to work and face that reality.
It was time to go back to work, short term disability was up and I was only taking one nap a day those days, my energy was coming back thankfully.
I went into my closet to check out my work wardrobe. I tried on one of my favorite blouses and it fit so differently, hanging in some places, tight in others, not a good look. Tried on another, equally poor fitting and unflattering. And another, and another. I cried on the floor of my closet for about 45 minutes because my wardrobe confirmed how I felt—like a stranger in my own body, honestly in my own life.
My husband tried to cheer me up by taking me to get a new outfit, all I got were some jeans, that was all I could bear. What I really wanted was something I was familiar with so when I went to work wearing my chemo cap, at least something was comfortable. Nothing was familiar anymore, I was worried about what work was going to be like after being off for so long, it was all too much.
I had a choice, mourn the loss of everything familiar or embrace the new me. It turns out I really like the word AND, I mourned the loss of all things familiar AND embraced the new me. Both were equally necessary for me to start healing in earnest. I adopted the hashtag #thrivingaftercancer. My surgeon did a double take at one office visit and belly laughed when I pointed out how lucky she was that she was about to see me naked!
When nothing fits, mourn the loss, seriously, take the time to truly mourn your very real loss. Find a kind and understanding seamstress and get a few things altered, and embrace the new you, its not easy but parts of it can be fun. Find your hashtag, take a minute to define the new you and run with it.