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 10:21AM

Posted on: Jun 23, 2019 10:21AM

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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Jul 22, 2019 11:15PM mavericksmom wrote:

Hi Teddy! I can't speak for others but emotional eating is my problem too! I work hard to keep from doing that but sometimes things happen and comfort food is the only thing that helps!

I'm still a work in progress but here are some things that help me.

Don't buy junk food if you can do that. My children are grown with families of their own and my husband is diabetic (and thin) so I have no reason to bring it into the house. When I lost weight at Weight watchers my leader said “say no once in the store or you will have to say no over and over again at home!"

That said, it doesn't help when I get stressed and crave comfort food, so I keep some “healthier" treats for times when I need a treat! Right now I have a box of Kind Bars, nuts with sea salt and dark chocolate and I have a box of dark chocolate covered frozen bananas in my freezer. Those are my go to treats but I only have one when I really need a treat! Can you tell I go for the chocolate?

I have eating issues since my DIEP reconstruction so that has helped me as far as portions go. I can't eat much at one time because I get bloated and abdominal pain about 15-20 minutes after I eat. It isn't bad as long as I eat small portions. If I eat too much I will pay for it for hours! Not sure why, I am seeing a gastroenterologist in August.

Back to the stress eating, I adopted a philosophy of being like water....I go with the flow and choose the paths of least resistance whenever I feel stressed to the max! I also do some mini meditation. Close my eyes for a few minutesand think of something or a place that is calming. Usually I picture myself in a hammock by the beach, swinging slowly while listening to the rhythm of the waves crashing on the sand.

These aren't miracle fixes but they help me and I feel better knowing I am at least going in the right direction



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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Jul 22, 2019 11:20PM Artista964 wrote:

I limit what junk I eat by not buying everything i want. If it's not in the house, i can't eat it. Working some on portion control. That's more my issue.

Dxd at 50. Went thru it all on my own by choice. Dx 6/2/2015, IDC, Left, 6cm+, Stage IIIA, Grade 3, 1/4 nodes, PR+, HER2- Surgery 8/6/2015 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant Chemotherapy 11/3/2015 AC + T (Taxotere) Radiation Therapy 5/4/2016 Whole breast: Breast, Lymph nodes Hormonal Therapy 6/28/2016 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Jul 24, 2019 11:21PM illimae wrote:

The weight battle/saga continues... Met with my MO Monday for scan results, which were good/stable but she expressed concern over my weight gain trend. I’m only up 12 lbs from this time last year but being ER+, the extra fat is not helping. So, Thyroid levels checked and meds are appropriate. Next is another visit with integrative medicine but I already have a good diet and possibly a fat blocker type med, if insurance approves. So, we’ll see how it goes.

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+ Chemotherapy 1/2/2017 Abraxane (albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy 1/2/2017 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Targeted Therapy 1/2/2017 Perjeta (pertuzumab) 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 10/20/2017 External Local Metastases 10/20/2017 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 2/17/2020 External Local Metastases 2/17/2020 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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Jul 25, 2019 07:04AM mavericksmom wrote:

What kind of medication did your doctor prescribe? Are your doctors from MD Anderson? My sister lived outside of Houston and went to MD Anderson, they were outstanding.

I'm going to sign up at a local gym next week. I wish I could feel good about it but I don't. A lifetime of battling weight has not offered me much hope to ever be close to normal

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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Jul 25, 2019 09:53AM illimae wrote:

The medication is Xenical (a fat absorption blocker), there are a couple others but those have potential cardiac risk and my cancer meds already do that. Yes, I am at MD Anderson, I am happy with them too.

Good luck at the gym! I never thought I’d say this but I really enjoy it. I do weights, elliptical, a 20 minute walk (listening to old rocksteady/soul) and 20 minutes cycling (watch comedies on Netflix). It’s a chance to get out of my head and get lost in simple things. I haven’t really lost weight from it but I am much stronger now.

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+ Chemotherapy 1/2/2017 Abraxane (albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy 1/2/2017 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Targeted Therapy 1/2/2017 Perjeta (pertuzumab) 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 10/20/2017 External Local Metastases 10/20/2017 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 2/17/2020 External Local Metastases 2/17/2020 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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Jul 25, 2019 10:17AM santabarbarian wrote:

I have lost a bunch of weight since Dx... about 35 lbs so far. I made a lot of changes to my eating post Dx. I have never been obese but i have carried an extra ~40 lbs for two decades (it crept on 5 lbs at a time...).

How have I changed my habits?

-I too do intermittent fasting and occasional extended fasting. I generally eat between noon and 9 pm. I do this for health benefits and anti-cancer benefits and it is not hard once you get used to it!! Black coffee or tea is ok in non-eating window. You can read about fasting and "fasting mimicking" and Dr Valter Longo at USC. I began doing this during chemo to help with SEs. I began enjoying the feeling of awareness of hunger and an empty belly.

I exercise in the am -- for me it's better to exercise before eating or I can get nausea from exercise on a full tummy. I have my coffee, take my hike, shower, clean up house, make a few calls or do some errands and it is noon already and I can eat lunch. I was an exerciser before, so I have kept that up (also a cancer benefit). Exercise alone will not drop weight.... or I would not have been heavy before... But combined with lean eating, it accelerates weight loss and makes sure you don't lose muscle. I do pilates 2x per week and 3x hill hikes. Pilates is the first form of "gym workout" I genuinely enjoy... you leave there feeling limber, stretched out, and worked out all at once. It's good for body awareness as you only focus on one area of your body at a time. And you never have to do things past a count of ten!

- I have given up junk, empty calories, and empty carbs for only nutrient dense "medicine" foods. No more white flour white sugar white potatoes, booze breads etc. Only nutrient-dense carbs like lentils, quinoa, beans. It's a matter of realizing what you CAN eat and focusing your shopping list on things that feel like treats but are good for you.... almonds and other nuts and seeds, avocados, salads, organic eggs or lean meat, berries, and low glycemic fruits, etc. Eat from the best anti-cancer foods lists!! Greens, alliums, cabbages, mushrooms, blueberries, etc. I never worry about calories -- only whether or not the food is delivering a lot of nutrients and anti cancer compounds per bite and is a food a cave person would possibly have eaten. NO frankenfoods like cheetos; no processed foods. My big treat is a few fries from someone else's plate! I miss fries!! I do not miss dessert at all now that I have been eating this way for a year. In fact, if I take a bite of someones dessert it tastes way too sweet now.

I had some comfort eating and drinking issues before, with a sweet tooth and a nightly cocktail. Now, an apple sliced up and dipped in almond butter feels like dessert... it is delicious and sweet but it is all nutrient dense. There is a kind of granola they sell in bins at whole foods (Paleo Cocoanut Granola) that's all seeds etc and low carb... feels like dessert at this point to sprinkle some on cottage cheese. I will eat fats via some dairy but try to keep to <20% of calories for recurrence prevention. Mostly I eat the rainbow of veggies, using 2-3 vegetables per meal, plus deep sea fish, nuts, seeds, and berries. A bit of cheese and dairy. Once in a while some grass fed organic red meat or chicken. If you make a tiny steak plus a green salad, brussels sprouts, and broccoli, that is a large plate of food and it is all lean and healthy.

In a nutshell, eat abundantly from the "approved anti-cancer foods" list and do not worry about calories too much. I am lucky to live in an area with abundant tempting produce. This diet would be hard in a food desert.

Exercise is also a large recurrence reducer. Literally your muscles, when working out intensely, generate a lot of pressure on the blood flowing through them. This pressure pulverizes any damaged cells but is fine for healthy cells. So every time you are pushing yourself in exercise, you are killing cancer. That's a motivator!

A big thing is getting out of sugar burning and into fat burning for fuel (ketosis). You have to maintain a clean (v low carb) diet for abut a month before this switches over. In the meantime you can feel pooped and crabby. But if you stay with the low carbs past the 30 days, it gets easy. The energy levels pop back up and the weight loss begins. Most people do "Atkins" keto which is lots of cheeseburgers. I do more of a vegan keto with is a lot of low carb veggies and not too many animal products.

Last-- a dog can get people out and walking. A 20 min walk 3 x a day is wonderful exercise. Women who exercise 30-60 mins per day have much lower recurrence rates.... that's 3-6 hour per week. If you cant do it every day a couple of long walks on the weekend or some gardening or other physical labor, can bring you up to that range.

Lets be good to ourselves!!!!

pCR after neoadjuvant chemo w/ integrative practices; Proton rads. Dx 7/13/2018, IDC, Left, 3cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 8/13/2018 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 12/27/2018 Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Left) Radiation Therapy 2/11/2019 Whole breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
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Jul 29, 2019 09:50AM teddy88 wrote:

Thank you all for your replies, suggestions and kindness. Its all very much appreciated. I have read posts from many of you over the years, and while I may not have posted in the topic string, you gave me great comfort and I often check your posts to see how you are doing. So thanks again for your advice, and your help! Keep happy.Love, Belle xx

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Jul 29, 2019 11:02AM movingsoccermom wrote:

Not sure how I missed this group, but happy to join you!! My weight issues popped up with menopause, just like all the other women in my Mom's family. Sigh. I did find that giving up diet soda significantly helped me stabilize my weight, which absolutely shocked me. At least until I started on a very brief (14 day) trial on Arimidex, which put on 15 pounds in 2 weeks. There were many horrible side effects, so thankfully I did not have to stay on that. Even being dx Stage 4, I would not take AI's; they were destructive for me. But those 15 lbs took 4 years to lose, and that was on top of the 90 I needed to lose. UGH! My sister lost weight on an organic diet, so in our family we have shifted to more organic choices, particularly with meat, but it is a budget killer. I can't say that it has helped, but it surely tastes a whole lot better. Dogs can be a help for moving. I borrow my kiddo's pooches, and walk our property--good for them and me. However, I have been struggling with crushing fatigue for the last 3 years (of course, now I know why), so this April I picked up a FitBit. I use it more as a reference and reminder. Days when I am tired, I ignore it, which sadly happens often. The shock of being told I was Stage 4, and initially told I had 18 months, completely killed my appetite. I lost 10 pounds over 2 months, and so far am holding. Fingers crossed!

Regarding medical students. I married my DH after his first year of medical school. Although he would share his adventures with me, it was usually in the you won't believe category, like the baby who peed all over his scrubs, or the patient he saved by using a new combination of medicine. And this was before HIPPA. After that, I mostly heard regrets, the people he could not save (Critical Care specialist), and there were never any details. My hope is that the medical students you helped that day had the same discretion, and you were just another patient. Please remember, you always have the right to refuse medical students--I have on occasion with my kiddos, when I didn't feel comfortable.

It is wonderful to not be alone on this weight issue.

Dx 3/3/2015, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 4/1/2015 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Radiation Therapy 5/27/2015 Whole breast: Breast, Lymph nodes Dx 5/7/2019, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IV, metastasized to bone/lungs/other, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-, Targeted Therapy Ibrance (palbociclib) Hormonal Therapy Faslodex (fulvestrant)
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Jul 29, 2019 01:42PM illimae wrote:

Movingsoccermom, I am very disappointed in a doctor that would give you an 18 month prognosis, especially without knowing how you’ll respond to treatment. This life is far from over but I assume you know that. It’s been my experience that those with a fatalistic mindset would not have bothered to improve their diet and get a Fitbit. (FYI, there’s a group here & on Fitbit) Stage V fitness, if you’re looking for motivation or want to share your activity with us.

Update: No Xenical after all, it’s not approved by insurance and I won’t pay $700 a month for it. For now, I’m just being a bit more strict with what I eat, easing back into fasting with a 14 hour fast and adding an exercise class to my normal routine.

Speaking of bad medical experiences, my PCP recommendation a gyno friend for a suspected ovarian cyst. She rushed through the exam saying everything was fine but when I asked about an ultrasound, she said with a crappy tone “yeah, that’s not gonna help, it can’t see though all this fat”. Never saw that bitch again.

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+ Chemotherapy 1/2/2017 Abraxane (albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy 1/2/2017 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Targeted Therapy 1/2/2017 Perjeta (pertuzumab) 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 10/20/2017 External Local Metastases 10/20/2017 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 2/17/2020 External Local Metastases 2/17/2020 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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Jul 29, 2019 04:59PM sbelizabeth wrote:

"Can't see through all this fat"?! I'm angry just reading about this. I've so had it with medical professionals passing judgement on higher BMI patients. One orthopedic surgeon took it on himself to harangue me about weight. Not only did I never see him again, I made a big deal of demanding my records and imaging studies so I could go elsewhere. Then I found a surgeon who saw me for the hard-working, intelligent, fit person that I am and had bilateral knee replacements in the same surgery. I was (gently) mountain biking for rehab in 2 weeks.

Illimae, you should write a letter of complaint to the GYN chief of staff. I know her comment was humiliating and something you'd just as soon forget, but if bigots aren't called on their attitudes, nothing will change.

pinkribbonandwheels.wordpress.... Dx 10/20/2011, IDC/IBC, Left, 1cm, Stage IIIB, Grade 2, 6/28 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Chemotherapy 12/15/2011 Adriamycin (doxorubicin), Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 4/18/2012 Mastectomy; Mastectomy (Left) Radiation Therapy 5/21/2012 Breast, Lymph nodes Hormonal Therapy 7/19/2012 Femara (letrozole) Surgery 4/15/2013 Reconstruction (Left): DIEP flap; Reconstruction (Right): DIEP flap

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