Until I was around 55 or so, I could eat anything I wanted and I remained as thin as a rail. But, then everything changed. Suddenly, every single bite I put in my mouth becomes an unwanted pound. And, nothing, it seems, allows me to lose those pounds.
It was my unexplained and undesired weight gain, in fact, that sent me, at long last, to the doctor back in 2012. Pre-cancer, I wasn’t a doctor goer at all (Boy! Does that diagnosis change things!). In fact, I probably hadn’t seen a doctor in at least 10 years when I finally went. But, I had decided I had thyroid problems so I had to be seen by a physician. I wanted to get some thyroid pills prescribed so I could get my metabolism going again!
A life-saving doctor visit
Well, that turned out to be a life-saving visit, but not because I had thyroid issues. My thyroid was fine, but that astute doctor found a tiny knot on my neck. She immediately sent me for a CT scan which revealed something ominous in my lungs. Lung cancer, stage IV.
So, in some ways, I owe my life to my excess weight. I would have never gone to the doctor had I not been lugging around 20 extra pounds or so that I couldn’t lose, no matter what.
I have fussed and complained about the weight gain that has continued to mount throughout my battle with cancer to my oncologist and anyone else who will listen. At the beginning of my immunotherapy treatments, the fussing was valid. My thyroid really did stop working right so now I do take the little pill every day. But, the levothyroxine hasn’t been the miraculous weight loss drug I thought it would be.
Giving exercise a try
I have tried cutting back on what I eat. I have tried changing what I eat. The result? Not one pound has dropped off. It doesn’t seem to matter what I do, the weight sticks like glue.
Starting in 2018, I changed one more thing. I have started exercising several times a week. I enrolled in a program strictly for cancer patients and I renewed my membership at the local community center.
I work out with a friend twice a week at the community center gym and I try to go to yoga classes once a week at the program for cancer patients. (I had never done yoga before – it is fun!) I sometimes manage to walk on the treadmill and/or ride the recumbent bike here at home, too.
I wish I could say that the weight has finally started melting away, but I would be lying. At my last doctor visit, I had lost maybe two pounds … after two months of regular exercise.
The many benefits of exercise
There are plenty of other benefits to exercise, though. I had no idea just how many! A couple of important ones are:
- Exercise actually helps reduce chemo-induced fatigue.
- Exercise may reduce the risk of getting cancer and heart disease.1
Timothy Gilligan, MD, MSc, FASCO, Cleveland Clinic, says, “Exercise literature is consistent in showing benefits … if you look at the research on health and the many positive benefits — in this case with fatigue, and there also is evidence that exercise has benefits for reducing risk for cancer and heart disease — it is interesting how consistent the data are that exercise really is good for us, if only we could get people to do it.”1
What’s stopping you? Get moving!!!