A long strange journey

The last couple of months have been an overwhelming series of events and I have started blog posts again and again only to abandon them.  I made the decision to try one more time as I really do have a lot to talk about.

I will start with the big story – in Aug, I found a lump on my leg.  The doctor was worried it was either a hernia (although the position was not quite right), a blood clot (it wasn’t reacting like a book clot and was facing the wrong direction of my veins) or it was a boil (but it was hard not soft and there was no skin issue).  So they sent me to the ER.  There it was discovered that I had an infection that had caused lymph nodes and the surrounding tissue to enlarge.  I was put on antibiotics and sent home.

4 days later, I had not responded to the antibiotics and my doc sent me back to the ER where I was admitted to the hospital for IV antibiotics.  While there, my doctors noted that my hemoglobin levels (red blood cells) were dropping to levels that indicated I may need a transfusion.  (this is where we will get personal but not overly so)  The cause was frequent periods and so gynecology was called in.   I had an ultrasound to look for fibroids and when that was determined to not be the cause I had a biopsy.  I was then released from the hospital (as the antibiotics had made a big difference in my original infection).

3 days later, I got a call that I had cancer.  Uterine cancer to be exact.

I had an appointment at the oncologist office then following Monday.  And she told me I got cancer cause I am fat.  She told me that the surgery (a hysterectomy) would be too difficult for her to do due to my weight.  And I needed bariatric surgery before she could help me.  In the meantime, they would do a “stop gap” measure to keep it from spreading. What she didn’t say, was anything about the cancer.  Will it kill me?  What are the possible side effects of the treatment or are there other treatment options?  She didn’t try to make me feel better about the cancer but she sure tried to make me feel bad about my weight.

I left very very upset and I happened to have a doctors appointment that afternoon with my regular doc who took the time to explain to me what the oncologist didn’t.  The cancer has a very small chance of actually killing me.  The surgery would be difficult for me (not just her) and if it is possible to get the bariatric surgery it would be beneficial and the stop gap measure has the ability to hold off the cancer while I do that.

The stop gap will be done next week and at that point I will look for a new oncologist.  I was scared when I went to see her.  I needed some reassurance about the cancer.  Instead I left feeling like I wasn’t worth saving.

The fact is I have several factors that probably led to my cancer.  The Mayo Clinic listed the following:

  • Over 40
  • No kids
  • Obesity
  • Family history

I have all of those things.  And there were a few I didn’t have.  But her insistence in focusing on the fat was clearly her way of trying to impact my life and throwing me away like it couldn’t possibly be anything else.  She may never get that.  I don’t know if I have the courage to say it to her.  But I hope I can.

This past weekend, I got a gift of a free hotel room in Charlottesville for a night and James and I went to just get away.  While there, I woke up early on Sat morning and was looking at my phone when I came across a video posted by a coworker.  It was the “To All Fat People” video that has been blowing up YouTube.  I was hurt and offended and all I could think was that when I work with her – that is what she sees when she sees me.  I am not a person.  I am fat and therefore worthy of ridicule and shaming.  And somehow that was supposed to “help” me get better.  I didn’t say anything – I didn’t respond.  And i didn’t unfriend her.  But I wish i could tell people how it is.

Fat is a complicated issue.  Yes, it is calories in and calories out.  But – and this is a big one – there are a lot of factors that go into your weight.  And it is not as easy an answer as “just do it”.  This is not an excuse.  I made many many bad choices during my life.  But to not acknowledge that the issue is complicated oversimplifies what is a very personal and very individual complex pattern of behaviors and medical science.

I know I am fat.  I am not in denial.  I know I made bad choices everyday when it comes to food and exercise.  I also make good ones.  And right now the bad ones are outweighing the good ones.  Every day I start this struggle over again.  Every day, every choice, every moment I struggle with where I am and where I could be – where I want to be be and where I was.   Many people don’t know what that is like.  But every choice is a minefield for me.   Both physically and emotionally.  Failure is a daily part of my life and in a totally different way that for some other people.

I told my therapist that my weight is one of those things I don’t talk about.  I talk about fat issues but I don’t talk about MY weight.  i don’t admit how much.  I don’t tell people what it is like to feel like a failure every time you walk into the kitchen.  Or every time you try to walk and end up winded.  Or every time you have to get weighed at the doctors office (which has been like 45 times in the last several days).  I once told my therapist – I wear my failure on the outside.  Where anyone can see it – so why do I need to talk about it.

Having said all that – if bariatric surgery is what is needed to take care of the cancer – then that is how we proceed.  if that is not possible – then we need to try something else.  Because nothing I have done so far has accomplished the goal.

I don’t know if I will continue to write about it.  I will not make any promises…I am bad at that when it comes to this blog.  But know this – the journey continues…

4 thoughts on “A long strange journey”

  1. The journey will get more difficult from here, with the choices you have to make and the changes that will come. I want to just say one thing. This time, the Journey is not one you must take alone.

  2. I just need to tell you I love you. And I love that you shared this post, it spoke to me on so many ways. I hate that you have gone through this and that you have such a difficult journey ahead. Thank you for being open and for sharing the gift of your journey so others may grow along with you….you rock!

  3. God bless you and many prayers for strength along the way. I relate to so many things you shared. Keep your chin up and your eyes to the future Michelle.

  4. Your courage to share this is amazing. You have many in your corner, fighting and praying for you. I am one of them. I want you to win and whatever I can do to support you in whatever way I can, I will and I know you have a ton of friends that feel the same way. You are one beautiful, amazing, gifted, sweet person. You and God have got this.

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