10 January 2012

Let Me Eat Cake

My darling big sister confessed that she is relieved that I've looked healthy throughout my treatment. She was afraid that I’d become one of those skinny cancer people, and to be honest, so was I.

The first time we sat in the waiting room awaiting my first IV, there was a woman sitting across from us who weighed less than 100 pounds. Her oxygen tank was on wheels, and she had a friend to help her pull it along. Her gold rimmed glasses slipped down her nose, and it took all her energy to slowly push them back up. At that time, we looked around the room, scared and confused, and wondered who I was going to become.

My biggest fear was that I’d be frail. Other fears, in no particular order, were weakness, nausea, mouth sores, brain fog, leg pain, and loss of nails. Baldness was down at the bottom of the list. With one round of drugs coursing through my veins, I don’t want to take anything for granted, but so far, it’s all been manageable and there’ve been no horrible surprises. Except this. I’m getting pudgy.

At first it was just the pie face, which I chalked up to those nasty steroids. That I could deal with, even though I didn’t look pleasing in the Christmas photos. I told nurse Marion that I was feeling chunky, and she cheerfully told me that one of her chemo patients had gained 25lbs!

Smugly, I considered myself exempt, since having cut out wine, I’d shaved off a substantial portion of my diet. However there has been a great deal of baking kicking around this Christmas, and I haven’t been shy of partaking. I’m eating everything, and between meals, I’ve had an insatiable appetite for cake. I don’t need it to be fancy either. Any old stale pound cake will do, including the ones from Loblaws, that are old, and celebrating someone else’s birthday.

The jeans, that hung off me in the summer, are now completely full. And then I remember that I haven’t done Pilates in four months, and the dog walking, which keeps me outdoors for three hours a day, doesn’t take me very far. Jed’s legs are only six inches long, and he spends a lot of time standing still.

Dieting really isn’t a consideration. (The most I will do is think twice about eating the icing). Somewhere over the last four months I’ve started thinking of my body as a vessel that has to be pumped with fuel, so I give it what it demands.  Often it requires orange juice and kale, but since it sometimes demands cake,  I give it that as well.

I do not want to gain 25 pounds. But nor can I hold tightly to the notion of my ideal body at this point in time. Luckily Jim doesn’t mind bald, and is oblivious to my expanding tummy. He's just happy for the days I'm feeling healthy and often volunteers to run (drive) out for treats.  So far I've yet to send him to the 'day old' section at the supermarket for an unclaimed birthday cake, but I feel that day is coming. 

So as far as ‘What I was going to become’,  I think I have my answer. Bald, still, and a little bit fatter, with no obvious sign of cheekbones. But I'm grateful I can breath my own oxygen, and I'm glad there's more of me, rather than less.

Eventually I'd like to be comfortable in my favorite jeans, or at least, my second favorite. And there are  longer walks in the future, and hopefully hiking. Eventually I intend to get back to Pilates. One day I'll do it without a wig. And then I have to think about going back to work. And giving up daytime TV. And being more productive. And making the most out of my life. But all that is all very ambitious.

So for now, there's cake.


  1. Eat all the cake you want Lady E - after you've finished with the canceritis, kicking the butt (so to speak) of a few el-bees will be a breeze. That is, if you find that a priority. Eating cake sounds like so much more fun!

  2. I agree! Eat all the cake you want and ice cream too...oh yah and of course Baileys. guess who