Renewed hope

Once I had recovered completely from my surgery, I returned to the private hospital that I was originally at to begin treatment that would keep me stable. This consisted of hormone therapy in the form of Arimidex as well as Zoladex and Zometa injections. At first I didn’t feel the side effects of the medication but as the doctors so often say, these medications have a cumulative effect. Two months into my new treatment and I was hobbling around like a 90 year old woman. The Arimidex had started to make it’s presence felt. Getting up in the mornings and just moving around was enormously challenging, with my joints becoming more and more stiff and painful as time marched on. There were days when the pain was so severe that I would have to take an anti-inflammatory or paracetamol  just to get through the day. There was nothing that the doctor could really give me to combat the pain except what I was already doing for myself. I would just have to learn to live with it. I knew that there were other options available to me, but I didn’t want to go fiddling around too much with other medications for the fear of upsetting the balance that I had worked so hard on to achieve. It felt to me like I would be tempting fate and perhaps even making the cancer even more resistant, so I learnt to become more proactive in dealing with the pain and discomfort.

Me & Jaco 2010

This photo of Jaco and I was taken in early 2011, around the time I started with my diet and exercise plan.

I was excited to stop the chemotherapy because all the pre-medications that came with it, like the cortisone had taken it’s toll on me. My body had swollen up and my face had become puffy and pasty. I just wanted to go back to the size 10 that I used to be…just feel normal again. To my intense frustration and utter dismay however, losing the weight would prove to take a lot longer than expected and be an uphill battle all the way. I tried for weeks to eat more nutritious meals and cut down, but nothing happened. After months of failed attempts I started telling myself that it was far more important to be healthy and feel good again than to lose weight, after all I had much bigger issues to worry about. This approach didn’t work however. I didn’t want to look like a cancer patient anymore. I wanted my old self back again and that entailed losing the weight no matter what it took (within reason of course). After asking the doctor why he thought I was having so much trouble slimming down, he explained it all to me and it made sense. Arimidex plus the additional medication that I was now getting was raising the fat lipids in my blood, making it very difficult if not almost impossible to lose weight. I went home after that consultation feeling very defeated and downhearted, but no for long. As history has proved over and over again in the past, this was no different. By the doctor telling me that I wouldn’t be able to lose the weight, it in turn made me even more determined to prove him wrong. As usual the slightly rebellious side of me came out and so my mission began.

I phoned the hospital and made an appointment with the dietician and scheduled my appointment with her when my next consultation with my doctor would be. I am so glad to this day that I did this. She took one look at my file and knew exactly what to do. The diet plan that she put me on made me realize that I wasn’t eating in the healthiest way possible for example, not eating any fried foods and only grilled or roasted. Avoiding sauces and sodium of all kinds and eating 5 small meals throughout the day to prevent my blood sugar from falling, causing cravings. She also told me that I had to start exercising. We had a treadmill at home, but I hadn’t used it in ages, and I was suffering from a significant amount of muscle weakness and atrophy from spending so much time in bed recovering from operations and treatments. I knew in my heart of hearts though, that exercise was the only way I was going to get my strength back and shed the pounds in the process. There was only one place to start. Little did I know the monumental challenge that still lay ahead of me.

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