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I Said I Wouldn't, Yet Here I Am: Weight Gain After Cancer

Breast cancer and melanoma survivor vents about her weight gain frustrations several years out from her original cancer diagnosis.
PUBLISHED February 27, 2017
Barbara Tako is a breast cancer survivor (2010), melanoma survivor (2014) and author of Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools–We'll Get You Through This. She is a cancer coping advocate, speaker and published writer for television, radio and other venues across the country. She lives, survives, and thrives in Minnesota with her husband, children and dog. See more at www.cancersurvivorshipcopingtools.com,or www.clutterclearingchoices.com.
I didn’t want to die. I don’t want to die. All the research and articles about cancer and being overweight terrify me. I lost weight during chemotherapy and yet, here I am over six years out from breast cancer and three years out from skin cancer. I am overweight—again.

In truth, I am ashamed and disappointed in myself. I knew better. I know better. I know the research is demonstrating that being a healthy weight helps reduce someone’s chances of cancer recurrence or of getting cancer in the first place. What is a fat girl to do?

Sometimes stubbornness is a good thing. I am not a quitter. I am not quitting my weight loss efforts. I am just frustrated. If you are struggling with this issue too, I have some awesome recommendations and I hope you post yours: The Netflix documentary “Fed Up” is excellent. SparkPeople.com is motivational and encouraging, and moving our bodies actually feels good! Making healthier eating choices feels good! Fitbits are good tools, too. There many helpful tools out there. Why do so many of us struggle with this then?

It is frustrating that society makes getting to and maintaining a healthy weight so hard—candy and junk food are at gas stations and hardware stores and everywhere else. Many prepared and pre-packaged items at the grocery store like “healthful” granola bars and breads have sugar in them. Many times things that are “low fat” compensate for flavor loss by adding more sugar. At the same time, there is all this information out there to make us feel guilty about weight gain. Is guilt really such a helpful emotion or motivator for weight loss?

Back in the age when we were busy hunting and gathering, this weight thing wasn’t so difficult. Now we sit at desks all day and comfy lounge furniture all night. Many of us also have enough resources to regularly purchase food that isn’t good for our bodies. It is frustrating that our surroundings set us up to fail.

There are rays of hope out there. I can name a few people who don’t watch television. I can name restaurant chains that post the calorie counts right up by the items for sale. I can name little strategies that help me from eating more than I already do—drinking room temperature water several times per day, stepping away from the vending machines at work, and physically moving myself to a room away from my kitchen at home.

It is frustrating to be sent two messages—one message, the research, explains and validates the importance of maintaining a healthy weight, and then the second message, the commercials and availability of so much food that doesn’t help us promote a healthy weight. Is anyone else frustrated too? How do you cope?
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