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That Other “F” Word

There is that certain “f” word we all know about. There are one or two others as well. In Cancerland, another “f” word is fatigue because cancer is exhausting in oh-so-many ways not only for the patient, but for the caregiver(s) too. But I’m not talking about either of those words. I’m talking about yet another “f” word many of us are familiar with. Do you know which one I’m talking about?

Yep, I’m talking about that itty, bitty word some of us are quite familiar with, fat. And I am fat. (For the record, yes, I do try to eat healthy most days and yes, I do exercise regularly. I will keep plugging away at both).

There I said it and yes, it was hard to type those words.

Why is fat such a horrible word, or rather why is it such a horrible word when it’s attached to you?

Why does it matter so much?

This post was another one of those difficult to publish posts. And the reason is simple, yet complex. In some ways talking about weight, rather my weight, is harder than talking about cancer stuff. How twisted is that? And when I go to my oncology appointments, one of the parts I hate most is the discussion about, you guessed it, my weight. That is totally fucked up (sorry, but this is an “f” word post after all). I know full well I am lucky to fret about something as trivial as my weight. Still…

Since my cancer diagnosis, I have put on 20+ pounds, so I have to ask, is this yet one more “gift” cancer has given me, one more piece of collateral damage? After all, weight gain is listed as one of the  many  side effects of aromatase inhibitors, or as I prefer to call them, the drugs we love to hate. Some would say yes. Some would say no. I will say, probably…

But again, back to that why question.

Why does it sting so much to be labeled fat?

When I was in elementary school, I was called chubby for a while, which of course, is just another kinder (but not that much kinder) label for fat. There were even a few years when my mom and my grandma took me shopping for school clothes in the chubby department of stores, an experience that let me tell you, still stings when I think back about it.

Somewhere in fifth grade or so, I hit puberty and lo and behold, I was suddenly skinny. No more pressure about losing weight. But to this day, I’ve never forgotten my chubby years and the chubby comments and how they made me feel.

This is way too big a topic for one blog post. So rest assured, I will likely be writing more about this in due time. But don’t ever expect to learn what my actual weight is. That is a “national-security-type-tightly-guarded-by-me” kind of secret. Let’s just say my driver’s license is not correct. (Is yours?)

But, trying to stay focused…

The purpose of this post is merely to come out and say it. I am fat. And again, this was hard to do. It’s not so bad to tell yourself you’ve got a few pounds to lose, that you’re overweight, or even that you’re too fat (for some reason too fat sounds more gentle than just fat), but to come out and say I’m fat; well, that’s hard.

The second purpose of this post is to reach out to you, my dear readers. Cancer or no cancer, I have a feeling there are others out there (I’m actually kind of hoping there are anyway) who for whatever reason are, okay, let me just say it, fat. As always, truth telling begins first with being honest with oneself. In this “weighty” matter, no one is alone either. Sorry about the really bad pun.

The third reason for this post is to reiterate that being fat matters. And then again it doesn’t. Of course, it matters for all those health-related reasons we all know about. But you are not worth more as a human being because you are skinny, fat or anywhere in between. You are worthy just for being you, as you are right now, this day, this minute. Your value is not based on what your scale says or does not say. It never was and it never will be.  So no matter what you weigh, be kind to yourself. I will try to remember these things too.

That other "f" word

So there you have it, no New Year’s resolutions for me, but instead a confession of sorts.

Maybe admitting it wasn’t so bad after all…The sky didn’t fall. My family didn’t disown me. You, my dear readers, are still out there.

I might even feel better now.

But I’m still fat.

Thank you to my friend, Beth L. Gainer – Calling the Shots, for giving me that little push of confidence to publish this post.

Do you have weight issues (of any kind)?

Have you ever felt judged based on your weight?

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That Other "f" Word

Image via “Little Pink Book of (Mostly) Cancer Cartoons” by Kate Matthews. Click on image for more info. Used with permission.


Dyanne @ I Want Backsies

Friday 10th of April 2015

I'm glad I finally read this! (I've seen the illustration of the "Best Breast Cancer Pins" board on Pinterest for a couple of months now.) I'm fat, too. I wasn't BC. In fact, I had worked pretty hard and lost about 30 lbs not long before my diagnosis, and I looked pretty awesome. Then Zoladex and Arimidex and Fosamax came along, and every pound of it was back, practically overnight. Now I think of myself as a fat person. My clothes don't fit. Fortunately, my oncologist says nothing. I have everyone in the office trained to weigh me without saying anything out loud nor writing anything down where I can see it. I stand on the scales with my eyes closed and my hands over my ears (mature, I know). And probably very few people have noticed the weight gain. Other people, as I tell my 16 year old daughter, are more concerned about themselves than they are about whether or not I gained weight. My husband has kindly never said a word. Still not okay with it.


Friday 10th of April 2015

Dyanne, I'm glad you made your way to this post too. It was a hard one to publish. I just love that cartoon. I completely relate to everything you said. My oncologist never seems overly concerned about my weight either. It's hard sometimes, but we just have to keep plugging along. Thank you for reading and taking to comment too.

Cheryl Brough

Wednesday 18th of February 2015

I hear you and feel your pain. I also have gained about 30lb since my cancer was diagnosed. I also suffer with lymphedema as well and the weight gain does not help with the swelling. I also was a "chubby" kid and know all the snide remarks and jokes. After my kids were born I lost a lot of weight to be a healthy me and kept it off for years. Now back to the fat farm. I was relgious with excercise and eating for 6 months between appointments and I gained 2 lbs. The doctors tried to tell me that muscle weighs more than fat. Really!! I am glad to hear someone complaining about this side effect as well. I feel your pain , sister!!


Friday 20th of February 2015

Cheryl, Thank you for understanding. It helps.

Jan Hasak

Tuesday 27th of January 2015

I have been gaining weight, too, almost at an alarming rate. At first it was a good thing to gain, especially after the divorce and my stage IV status, leaving me with little appetite. But now that my appetite has returned (I guess I adjusted to the continuous chemo), I can't fit into clothes that were so easy to wear before. I exercise as well as I can, and try to eat right, but I just keep gaining. People will still say I am thin, but I know in my heart I am not. Thanks for your courage to share this personal tidbit. I never would have known this about you, You are very sweet and dear to us all. xxx


Tuesday 27th of January 2015

Hi Jan, Chemo can do a number on a person's metabolism, so your body is probably just reacting to that. You look lovely, so no need to worry about it anyway. The main thing for all of us is to try to make the healthiest choices we can. Some days we'll do better than others. Thank you for reading and you, Jan, are the one who is sweet and dear to so many. xx

Marie Ennis-O'Connor (@JBBC)

Saturday 24th of January 2015

Nancy thanks as always for your honesty in writing about a topic that many of us identify with. I have to say I was surprised to see you write that you are fat -- that is most definitely not something that I ever thought looking at pictures of you here on the blog!

For me, chemo was so awful and I was so sick that I lost a ton of weight and I kept that weight off for a few years. But in the last few years my weight has been creeping up slowly and I have been in denial. Last year when I saw the photographs of myself on stage at Stanford MedX, I tried to convince myself that it was a bad camera angle. But I can no longer deny the truth when I go to buy clothes and the sizes I have to buy are getting bigger. So your honesty has helped me to face up to my own reality and now I need to choose what to do about it!


Saturday 24th of January 2015

Marie, Let's just say I'm very careful about how I stand/pose. ha. As you said, many of us struggle with weight issues and some of us, of course, also struggle with weight loss. Body image is such a delicate area and cancer, especially breast cancer, can do a real number on us. Good health is what matters most of course. We are all working on being at our healthiest. I know this, Marie, you are beautiful inside and out. Thank you for reading and sharing.


Thursday 22nd of January 2015

Another provocative post, Nancy. Your questions are spot on, but for me they are as much about our culture as our cancer. I would no longer call myself fat (though others might), but I also could stand to lose another 10 pounds. OK, maybe 12 after last night's dinner. I am in a constant tug-of-war in my effort to figure out if its what I see in the mirror, what society tells me I should look like, or some official BMI index that should be the determining factor. But what I see in the mirror, or at least how I see it, can't be separated from what society tells me. So if, like you, my doctor doesn't seem concerned with my weight, why do I get on the scale every single morning - first thing - and allow that number to influence my day?

Thanks for sharing!


Friday 23rd of January 2015

Lori, Society puts pressure on us for sure, but I don't care much about that these days; I just want to be as healthy as I can be. Having said that, I still cringe when I look in the mirror sometimes or when I see photos... I have my work cut out for me, but the pounds don't seem to want to come off very easily while on these darn drugs. Is that an excuse? I don't think so. Too many others concur. Thank you for reading and adding to this discussion, Lori.

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