“I’m not fat, I’m big boned!”, quoted by Eric Cartman from the Comedy Network cartoon show “South Park”. It is a crude cartoon, sophomoric and satirical. But with my sense of humor, I did enjoy the show for the brief time that I watched it. But his quote was one of the first infamous lines, when his little friend called him “fat”, Cartman barked back, “I’m not fat, I’m big boned!”
Long before the television show, I actually tried to use that excuse while visiting my family physician. One of the undesirable long term effects that I have struggled the most with, is a weight gain during and following my cancer treatment. Most people when going through chemotherapy often lose weight. But because I was taking high doses of prednisone for the eight months of treatments, prednisone – a steroid, increased my appetite, which of course resulted in a weight gain. This was complicated with the destruction of my thyroid from radiation treatments that I had prior to the chemo. The thyroid is responsible for regulating your metabolism, which of course, controls your weight. With a thyroid not working properly, it is only common sense, you would have weight issues.
In 1997, as part of an employment hiring, I was required to get a company physical. I sailed through everything. And then oddly, something I had never had done in any physical ever, they did some sort of bone density exam on me. And the result was that I had “a large frame”. Okay, I stand only five foot seven. And I was still under the 200 pound mark, so I would never have considered myself “large frame”. But having discussed my weight concerns with my family doctor in the past, I now had a new theory.
Large frame body = big bones = big bones weigh more
Yep. That was my logic, and I was sticking to it. And so, on my next visit to my doctor, I actually tried to use this reasoning on her. Now keep in mind, any reference I have ever made about my family physician, I have always been appreciative, admirable, and respectful of her. She also has a great sense of humor too as I soon found out after I actually asked her about the possibility that the reason I was overweight was because I was big boned. I just found out I was a “large frame” which meant my bones had to be heavier, which would mean I would weigh more.
Officially, she gave me a response, “are you serious?” and we immediately followed a different direction. She was not going to entertain that theory any further, and honestly, it was a reach. After all, my bones had always been “large framed” my whole life, and at one point in my life, I was quite a lot of pounds lighter before my Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
But I am really at a loss. More than seventeen years later, weight is still an issue for me. I take thyroid medication, but still not weight loss. I cannot exercise strenuously because of other cancer treatment side effects that I deal with for my heart, lungs, spine, and muscles. But I do at least some light exercising nearly every day in the form of walking. I have wonderful support to help me with controlling my diet, both portion size and actual content. I have a professional dietician working with me, who encourages me not to be discouraged by the numbers, that it is about how I feel, and how my clothing fits (called a moral victory).
Because of other long term side effects I deal with, I have had several gastroenterology tests performed over the years, and while not great news for other issues, they did not reveal anything per se as far as the issue with my weight.
My struggles as a long term cancer survivor, cardiac, pulmonary, muscular, spinal, immunological, endocrine, psychological, gastro, and more, my weight seems more of just an inconvenience given everything else I deal with in terms of survivorship.
I will keep exercising. I will keep watching what I eat. I also am prepared to accept that I just might not be able to help my weight any more than I am. Maybe I am really just “big boned.”