I've been grumbling lately about the weight I have gained since my diagnosis with Stage IV breast cancer. The research I did tells me my experience is not unique.
There are several reasons for the weight gain that is common to breast cancer. Part of it is water weight and swelling due to steroids. It was so bad last winter that I needed to buy men's size 10 boots and wear compression stockings. Much of that weight came off when my oncologist changed the steroid dose I get with my chemo, but it's not all gone. You should see my ankles when I take my socks off at night. Put it this way: they are shapely in a bad way. While I was able to wear my sandals this summer, my size 8 closed shoes no longer fit. I had to buy two new pair of size 9 shoes.
And then there's my belly. I will admit that part of my weight gain comes from overindulging in sweets last Christmas. You, my friends, gave us a lot of really delicious cookies! Not that I'm trying to shift the blame. Well maybe just a little.
Chemo put me straight into menopause. According to an article on WebMD, menopause causes changes in metabolism and body composition. It is typical to lose muscle weight and gain fat. Guess where? Right in the belly. Yesterday, I had to buy a new rain jacket, because my old one would barely zip up past my belly. I had to buy a man's extra large to fit me. That's depressing... and the sleeves are outrageously long!
I had hoped with my training for the five kilometre Run for the Cure that I would shed some of the weight I had gained. It isn't happening. I will try to keep walking regularly. I'll try to be better about the sweets. But I think this belly is here to stay.
In addition, my hair colour has changed. My gray hair came back white, and my brown hair has come back a washed out steel-grey colour. I have been feeling like I aged 10 years since I got sick. Guess what? To my disappointment, but not surprise, WebMD says, "a woman having chemotherapy ages the equivalent of 10 years over the course of just one year." Tell me about it!