Topic: For those of us with BMI over 35

Forum: Mental Health: Because Cancer Doesn't Just Affect Your Breasts — Meet and support others who are affected by these issues around anxiety, depression & other emotional effects.

Posted on: Jun 23, 2019 09:21AM

Posted on: Jun 23, 2019 09:21AM

Mavericksmom wrote:

Having a BMI over 40, and dealing with recurrence and family history of breast cancer makes me feel isolated. Out of my family members with BC, mom, and two sisters and a cousin, I am the only one in my family with BMI over 30. I feel those of us who are plus size don't fit in to many of the discussions here, especially the ones about depression. Perhaps I just didn't read the right threads? Anyway, I started a new thread in hopes of connecting with others like myself.

I have dealt with being over weight all my life. I was once within 10 pounds of normal, but that was over 35 years ago and with my second pregnancy I gained the weight back and some. I also lost 56 pounds 5 years ago, but again, I couldn't keep the weight off. I lost that weight via Weight Watchers, but WW isn't really set up for people on tight budgets who need to lose 80+ pounds! I had to give up because I couldn't afford to keep going to meetings. I thought I could continue myself, which I did for awhile, but then I saw how the skin was just hanging off of me, my thighs, my stomach, and honestly, I freaked out. I still tried to eat healthy but I didn't want to lose anymore weight. Then I slowly started to gain it back and I gained back 45 of it. After the DIEP surgery in January I put on 20 pounds, but luckily most was fluid and I lost 15 of it since then.

Normal weight or overweight women really have no idea how humiliating it is for those of us categorized as obese to go through the process for DIEP surgery. I had to stand naked in front of my husband, doctor, and two 20 something male medical students while the plastic surgeon described what he was going to do. That humiliation will live with me for the rest of my life, as will the humiliation of having a young male PA stand inches from my naked standing body, drawing on the abdomen before the surgery.

But they are medical people, supposedly used to seeing naked people of all sizes. The hurt from family is so much deeper.

I don't know any obese person who is happy being obese. Most, like me are in a constant battle with their weight. Breast cancer is hard to deal with emotionally, but add obesity to it and it adds to the depression over body image. I hate my body more now than ever. I never thought I could look worse than I did prior to this second time with breast cancer, but I was wrong.

Yesterday, my sister, who is normal weight and my only sister who didn't have BC really hurt my feelings. I expressed concerns, via text, that the reason I haven't had side effects yet from the Letrozole (been on for two months) is because it isn't working. I explained that I think that because I am so fat, my estrogen levels may not have fallen enough to prevent another recurrence of metastasis. I also said I didn't think there was any way to know for sure if it was working. I told her that the paper I signed at my MO's office which stated all the possible side effects also said that I was aware that this drug may not work for me. I added that on the up side, I was glad that so far I haven't had any SE's from the drug.

Her response. "Only you could find something positive to say about being overweight!" I responded that I didn't say it as a positive for being overweight, that there is nothing good about being overweight. She never responded. My feelings are still hurt. I assume she said that because no normal weight person would see anything good about being overweight? Not sure.

Anyway, I would love to connect with anyone with BMI over 35 to listen to and support our mental and physical health. We have a unique set of hurdles to deal with.


Dx 6/6/2003, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/24 nodes, ER+/PR+ Dx 12/4/2018, ILC, Left, 1cm, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2-,
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Jun 23, 2019 02:46PM - edited Jun 23, 2019 02:49PM by meow13

I wanted to respond since no one else has, I am not in the obese category but I am in the BMI 26 category. I was BMI about 22 when I had my DIEP surgery. I was not treated as badly as you were but I did feel some embarrassment, not during the drawing on my body but with pre photos.

Since starting menopause the weight came on, I did weight watchers lost about 5 pounds. There were good ideas for cooking and eating to cut out fat but eating out was my problem. Now I go to restaurants that post the calories and try to always carry some food home. Exercising 1hr on the treadmill everyday helped control and get my weight down. Eating smaller meals and often so I never felt hungry helped. One thing I did that helped was only drink water save tge calories for my food.

I would consult a specialist you may have other issues causing the weight. I gained on anastrozole and exemestane ugh! It is slowing coming off I need to really push myself to stay on the treadmill. As soon as I start taking a day off my habit gets broken.

Sounds like you had some weightloss success but not in a habit that was sustainable. Good luck.

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Jun 23, 2019 02:49PM Fairydragonfly wrote:

While I can't relate to your experience (I had a lumpectomy), I do struggle with being "morbidly" obese. On Thursday I agreed to chemo after getting my oncotype results, so I went out with a group of friends Friday as my last hurrah before chemo. Then I saw the pictures and wanted to puke. I have battled my weight for decades, and weight loss has been difficult when coupled with polycystic ovary syndrome, depression, prediabetes, medication side effects, etc.

Of course we want to lose the weight. Of course we're well aware that it increases our risk for various health issues.

I'm here for and with you. ❤️

DX at age 43. Weak staining ER, Oncotype score 50, BRCA1 mutation. Lost both parents to cancer in 2018. Dx 4/17/2019, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-, Surgery 4/30/2019 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Chemotherapy 7/4/2019 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 1/19/2020 Prophylactic mastectomy: Left, Right Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery Prophylactic ovary removal
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Jun 23, 2019 03:07PM spookiesmom wrote:

An ortho told me over a year ago it’s time to replace both knees. That was before stage 4 happened. My PCP told me absolutely not, I was too heavy, no dr or hospital around here would do it. Incentive to loose it, right? Wrong. I flat out like to eat too much. Trying to make something DH and I agree on for dinner is impossible. I won’t cook two meals. I was 110# when we got married 51 years ago.

I have accepted my weight, if I loose some more, yay me. I lost about 10# when I got the stage 4 dx. I’m not going to change anything for anybody.

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Jun 23, 2019 04:36PM Mavericksmom wrote:

Meow, thank you!!!! Your thoughts, as always, are appreciated.

Fairydragon, thank you for responding! I will be here for you too! I hear you about pictures. I only have mirrors in my bathrooms (only shows above breast and up) and one narrow full length mirror in my bedroom behind the door. Suffice to say, I don't see myself much and I often wondered if I got more mirrors if it would encourage me to lose weight again? I have always had a "virtual" picture of myself in my brain and I am always shocked at how bad I look in pictures because the image I have is not nearly as overweight! It isn't that the photos add two pounds either!

I am a walking ball of inflammation, lymphedema in my left arm since 2003 when I had the entire fat pad removed with 24 nodes and it spread to my former left breast, side and left leg. Both of my shoulders were replaced due to completely torn rotator cuffs. My orthopedic doctor told me in 2010 that I have lymphedema in my right arm as well. My right ankle swells, but the swelling will go down by morning, so I don't consider that lymphedema. It is not an excuse for the weight, just another issue that adds to the frustration of trying to lose weight. I can easily gain 5 or more pounds in a day, especially in the summer, that is all excess fluid. It is gone in the morning.

I thought about joining a gym near my home, and I might do it this summer. I wish I had room for a treadmill at home but I don't. My biggest problem is that when I work (I work in a school) I am exhausted and I don't think I could get myself to the gym.

To say I hate my body now more than before the DIEP surgery is an understatement. I have a flat stomach with tennis balls on either side of my hips and a huge muffin top so I had to buy a lot of new clothes because nothing stays at my waist. I know the hip thing the PS will need to adjust, but the muffin top is all on me Something in my head keeps saying "so what are you going to do about it?"

I am going on vacation next week, but I must do something about my weight when I get home. I have never been a quitter, but after a lifetime of battling weight, it would be easier to quit trying. On the upside, if I focus on diet and exercise again, perhaps it will take my mind off of breast cancer? I think I have to try. But this time, I want to do it differently. I don't want to tell any of my friends or family what I am doing. (of course my husband will know) I don't want it thrown in my face if I don't lose weight. You can expect to see posts from me here.

I feel we need a place to talk about weight in the company of others who really understand what it is like to be obese for decades/lifetime. It is kind of like breast cancer. I feel better talking about it with others here who have/had it because you really understand. It is so hard to take diet/exercise advice with someone who has never been more than 10 pounds over their ideal weight.

Spookiesmom, I assume that is a picture of Spookie, who is soooo cute! I am a bit jealous because I want a dog so badly. We always had dogs and when our last one passed away over two years ago, my heart broke! The biggest reason is the expense as I am 65 and nearing retirement and our nest egg isn't huge.

I was this weight when I had both of my shoulders replaced, 6 years apart. Also, my DIEP surgery was 8 1/2 hours. I know my BS was concerned about the anesthesia, but the PS wasn't. All went well in that respect. Still, only a fool would think obesity doesn't have an effect on us during surgery. That said I agree when you said it should be an incentive but it isn't. I am really going to TRY to use correctional plastic surgery next summer as an added incentive, but I know it isn't enough by itself. I need a lift on my real breast, but I am still having healing issues due to radiation from 2003 cancer so it can't be anytime soon.

I totally hear you about making meals for two. I guess in that respect I am lucky my tall, thin, husband is diabetic so he is supposed to eat the same food I am supposed to eat. We don't have much junk food, occasional ice cream, in our house. Rarely I get chips or make French fries. Sweets are limited too, for special occasions and usually without keeping any left overs. So really, while I too like food and whole heartedly believe in comfort food, I really can't use that as an excuse. I know I really need MORE exercise.

I hope I hear from you again.

Thank you all for replying.

Dx 6/6/2003, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/24 nodes, ER+/PR+ Dx 12/4/2018, ILC, Left, 1cm, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2-,
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Jun 23, 2019 05:07PM illimae wrote:

Hi there, I’m here. My BMI is over 40 too and I have lost and gained the same 40 lbs more times than I can count, it’s so frustrating. Critical family members (both parents) have mostly been written off, I don’t have the time for their BS and have lost the will to make excuses for their behavior. I go to the gym and do weights, elliptical, cycling and treadmill for 1.5 hrs 4-5 days/wk but haven’t lost weight but it’s ok, I’m mainly there to get stronger and stay active. Since I was diagnosed stage IV de novo, I cared more about living and less about body image but I still eat healthy, I just don’t have much loss to show for it. My body seems to be extremely stubborn, so I’ve learned to accept being fat and appreciate being happy.

DH and is have been using the Daily Dozen (vegan checklist) as a guide but nothing is off limits.

Diagnosed at 41 Stage IV De Novo Dx 11/16/2016, IDC, Left, 5cm, Stage IV, metastasized to bone, Grade 3, 3/13 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2+ Targeted Therapy 1/1/2017 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Chemotherapy 1/2/2017 Abraxane (albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy 1/2/2017 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Surgery 6/26/2017 Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Left); Lymph node removal Radiation Therapy 8/10/2017 Breast, Lymph nodes Dx 10/5/2017, IDC, Left, 5cm, Stage IV, metastasized to brain, Grade 3, 3/13 nodes, ER+, HER2- Radiation Therapy 10/19/2017 External Local Metastases 10/19/2017 Brain Radiation Therapy 4/18/2018 External Local Metastases 4/18/2018 Brain Radiation Therapy 5/23/2019 External Local Metastases 5/23/2019 Brain Surgery 1/22/2020 Radiation Therapy 2/16/2020 External Local Metastases 2/16/2020 Brain Radiation Therapy 7/20/2020 External Local Metastases 7/20/2020 Radiation therapy: Bone Radiation Therapy 12/4/2020 External Local Metastases 12/4/2020 Brain Targeted Therapy Tukysa (tucatinib) Chemotherapy Xeloda (capecitabine) Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Jun 23, 2019 05:58PM frmthahart wrote:

I can't even begin to imagine how I would react or feel if I was in the scenario you described! I had a lumpectomy and thought that modesty had gone out the window with rads...!

I am in this BMI category and have been struggling most of my life with weight. I gained 56 lbs with my first pregnancy and never lost it all. This repeated through all my pregnancies - I had 6. I have tried just about every diet and many of the fads. Chemo has been the most effective for me - I lost 38 lbs. Some of that is slowly creeping back on now that I am through active treatment. As more people talk about diet and exercise, 10,000 daily steps and 150 active minutes etc... I almost feel a panic that my weight and what I eat is going to cause a recurrence of the cancer. I think this is a major part of the funk I find myself in - the mind game I am playing at the moment. I have been almost manical about writing down what I eat, my meds and daily water. I have a Fitbit that tracks my sleep, steps and activity. I almost feel like a hamster on the wheel! My days have become all about the steps and activity yet, still I see the scale slowly creep up. The nutritionist at my center said I needed to eat only organic, non GMO, no antibiotic mostly plant based diet. With the household I have to feed, this would become really expensive. My NP at the MO's says to not worry and just eat a well balanced diet. I feel like I am floundering and am not sure of what I will end up doing. Having a place to talk about it is a blessing!

Dx 9/25/2018, IDC, Left, 3cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 3, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Jun 23, 2019 06:11PM meow13 wrote:

Well I seem to be only maintaining I really don't like going to LA fitness the treadmills are so close together. When I was working we had a couple treadmills at work and nice ladies room showers and had a wonderful towel service. Cost me $10 a month. About the time I retired they shut that same facility down. I miss going with only 1 maybe 2 people there.

A friend of mine used to go to the nursing facility her mother was in they let her use the gym and pool. She said it was always empty.

With the drugs some of us are on almost impossible to lose. So glad I am off AI drugs my face puffed up on exemestane looked horrible. I feel like the last 8 years I have aged 30 years.

I had a physical trainer for a couple months, dear GOD I could only do 10 minutes of the exercises he had for me. No more of that sticking to easier old person yoga and walking on the treadmill also swimming. Good enough.

I don't do any weights anymore.

I say do what you can don't give up easily.

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Jun 23, 2019 09:53PM Mavericksmom wrote:

illimae, I am sorry your parents haven't been supportive. It is so hurtful when family fails to help lift each other up. I am super impressed with what you are doing at the gym! You are an inspiration for me! I thank you for posting and hope you will continue to post here.

Frmthahart, I too gained weight with each pregnancy. I lost a lot after my first child was born, but gained it back and more when I got pregnant the second time and it didn't help that my doctor kept telling me not to worry about it because I lost so much after my first pregnancy. I am so glad you posted here.

Meow, it is definitely nicer working out with a few people. I was able to use a small hospital gym once that usually had only 3-4 people exercising at a time and all were trying to recover from a health issue, so it was a comfortable, non-judgemental environment. I don't have access to that now, but there is a Planet Fitness gym near my home and I plan to go there. I used that gym for a short time years ago, but that was when my shoulder gave out and I had to quit the gym.

All of you have lifted my spirits. I felt very alone, with an obese body and breast cancer which reappeared after almost 16 years after my first diagnosis.

I really hope we created a safe place to share our specific issues and that we will all benefit from each other on this message board. I am still amazed that you all responded and that I am not alone!

I also echo what many here said, I always try, but the weight doesn't easily come off, and getting stronger via exercise does count for something!

((((((Sending Cyber hugs to all of you)))))

Dx 6/6/2003, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/24 nodes, ER+/PR+ Dx 12/4/2018, ILC, Left, 1cm, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2-,
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Jun 23, 2019 10:33PM illimae wrote:

Mavericksmom, I started slow at the gym using my cancer centers healthy heart program as a guide for the weights and my first time on the elliptical I only lasted 2 minutes but each week I increased it until I got to 15, same with the cycling. I also quit working, so I made the gym my new job. Now, I totally enjoy the time to myself, it’s therapeutic.

Diagnosed at 41 Stage IV De Novo Dx 11/16/2016, IDC, Left, 5cm, Stage IV, metastasized to bone, Grade 3, 3/13 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2+ Targeted Therapy 1/1/2017 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Chemotherapy 1/2/2017 Abraxane (albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy 1/2/2017 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Surgery 6/26/2017 Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Left); Lymph node removal Radiation Therapy 8/10/2017 Breast, Lymph nodes Dx 10/5/2017, IDC, Left, 5cm, Stage IV, metastasized to brain, Grade 3, 3/13 nodes, ER+, HER2- Radiation Therapy 10/19/2017 External Local Metastases 10/19/2017 Brain Radiation Therapy 4/18/2018 External Local Metastases 4/18/2018 Brain Radiation Therapy 5/23/2019 External Local Metastases 5/23/2019 Brain Surgery 1/22/2020 Radiation Therapy 2/16/2020 External Local Metastases 2/16/2020 Brain Radiation Therapy 7/20/2020 External Local Metastases 7/20/2020 Radiation therapy: Bone Radiation Therapy 12/4/2020 External Local Metastases 12/4/2020 Brain Targeted Therapy Tukysa (tucatinib) Chemotherapy Xeloda (capecitabine) Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Jun 24, 2019 06:38AM spookiesmom wrote:

Yes, that’s my girl, Spookie. I got her when I was 60 and still working. I retired a few months later, she will be 10 on Halloween. Lots of pups in shelters needing a home. She has a rescued Poodle brother too

I’m diabetic too, on a pump. Best thing ever. The thing with us is, I don’t like this, he doesn’t like that. In summer, I’d be happy with a salad for dinner. Not him. I don’t go for all the organic, non gmo, hoopla some people push. How can that help weight loss? Makes your wallet lighter for sure!

I lost 34# the first time around with chemo. Some of that found me again. I don’t recommend that diet. I’ll be starting ibrance and letrozole on 2 weeks. Hope I can tolerate it.

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