On Trying to Maintain Weight

When this all started, I learned that most women GAIN weight on chemotherapy for breast cancer.  WHAT?  Really?  That totally surprised me.  My image of a cancer patient is thin and gaunt and kind of “off” in coloring.  So, DZ (surgicial oncologist) had told me that I should do everything to keep active and maintain my weight, with the idea that preventing weight gain was the key.

Fast forward to post-chemo V: This morning, I was right on my ‘basement’ weight of 130 lbs.  In fact, last week, I dipped to 128.  At diagnosis, I was a bit over 140.  Now, I’m barely hanging on to 130, stubbornly trying to keep my weight at or above 130.  Why 130?  That’s actually about 5 or 8 pounds light for me.  But at 130, I don’t look sickly thin…  it’s below my ideal race weight – a weight at which I start to notice loss in power… and it’s arbitrary – it’s the basement I’ve selected and will work to hold on to.

So why am I struggling to keep weight on while most women GAIN?  Well, my combination of chemotherapy drugs apparently carries weight loss as a potential side effect.   In particular, it seems that the PARP inhibitor is the likely culprit.  My issue seems to be hunger.  I don’t have much.  I don’t even think of eating.  I have to think to myself, now is a good time for a snack, so eat one.  Once I am eating, I enjoy my food (thank goodness).  But, it just doesn’t occur to me to actually eat.  Ok – anyone who knows me … well… let’s just say this is not my norm!  I used to be all like…  Cookie?  Brownie? Yes please!  Fruits? Yes please!  Energy bar?  Yes please!  Sandwich?  Yes please!  Smoothie?  Yes please!  Left-overs? Yes please! And after dinner, I’d have a snack… and I mean like right after dinner….  And usually I’d eat second breakfast…and often second lunch…  An added challenge is that I now get full much much faster.  A modest sized falafel sandwich used to be like first lunch… now it’s a big full lunch.

Going into cyclocross season, I was coming in a little bit heavy but probably right on for peaking for some awesome racing in January (nationals – I really wanted to go).  So, this is a total flip in mind set…. not only with regard to food but also with regard to my fitness and strength.  And I’m finding it really hard!


About rleepenn

I'm a mom and a chemistry professor, and I love to ride bikes! On July 29th, 2011, I received the news that I have breast cancer. This is my blog....
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2 Responses to On Trying to Maintain Weight

  1. Jen Hanks says:

    Lee, I am so glad you tolerating this so well. Truly awesome!

  2. Lynne says:

    For entirely different reasons (obviously), I’ve experienced total loss of appetite and just no desire to eat. Yep, your stomach shrinks too so you get full much easier. You’ve probably already tried this, but if you shoot for the highest calorie versions of what you usually eat, that might help. This is probably not something you’d want/eat, but just as an example, a peanut butter smoothie instead of fruit. But you have to eat it faster, because of that get full fast thing. But maybe it will just come back naturally quickly after you finish the chemo? Then maybe you can worry about other things instead (like setting your student’s hands on fire, heheh).

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