It is rare, if ever, that I have been happy with a photograph of myself. Especially after the Tamoxifen 10+ pounds I have gained (16 to be exact). I am thankful for all of the comments and compliments I do receive, though. Seeing my size transformation over the past few years and the flowing rolls at my waist gnaws at me, but overall I am happy with it! Hey, I’m alive and well. What more can I ask for?
When I see myself in the mirror, I don’t see the same individual who was there before my illness. And while friends and family tell me that what I see is not what they see; I have still felt like the lead in a Hans Christian Anderson story — you know the one about the duck.
Recently, I was introduced to a woman who has just been diagnosed. We have spoken several times over the last few weeks, and her story has touched me. She is further along mentally than I was, and her chemo regime will be more stringent than mine; but I believe she will be fine in the end. I think she sees that now, as well. Her voice today was much calmer and more positive – which was a relief. I was concerned that her fears could become an obstacle for her, and could cloud her capacity to gather the information she needed during our first conversation.
She told me of some good news that she had gotten. Awesome, I thought! Then she wanted to know about my weight gain. She had asked me this several times during our talks. I told her honestly that I have “packed on the pounds.” I know it sounds weird that I gained weight during chemo but I did…Anyway, I know that much of what I said was helpful, but she was still focused on the weight gain. So here is what I said. “If it is weight gain you want to focus on – you can. But focus on the fact that after you are done with all of your treatments and healthy again…you will have a new project…getting back in shape. Keep thinking about the future and what you need to do. Because no matter how you look at it…you are looking at your future – and that is a good thing. But when you have completed it all (the treatments I mean), don’t waste your time (like I have done) being unhappy with what you see in the mirror.
Because what you see is ALIVE AND WELL…and looking good in a photo or two will happen again!