On Saturday, I will celebrate an anniversary of sorts. On Saturday the 9th, it will be my four-year RNY Surgiversary.
Four years since I had surgery to re-route my intestines so I could lose weight.
And don’t get me wrong, it’s still a very significant surgery. I lost 130 pounds and I got healthy. I was getting healthy so I could live a long, fantastic life with my husband. Surgery that meant I was no longer dependent on a CPAP to live…no longer dependent on metformin, or insulin.
Now, after this past year, I hardly think of that surgery. I mean, I guess in light of everything, it was good that I had that surgery, because if I had tried to beat cancer while already sick from heart disease and uncontrolled diabetes, I could never have done it.
But the cancer…well, that just puts things into a bit more perspective.
One of the big thoughts I had when I had my RNY was getting to a point where I could safely carry a baby.
Now mind you, it wasn’t the primary reason. I had a host of comorbidities from my obesity that were putting me at risk of not making my 40th birthday. I had high cholesterol. I’d had a heart attack. My diabetes was uncontrolled – I was on five shots of insulin per day, plus two other oral medications. I was on meds for high blood pressure. I was on meds for everything….
(I came home from my RNY off ALL of that medication by the way).
But now, well, cancer put things into a weird perspective for you. I almost DIDN’T make my 40th birthday. In fact, if they hadn’t done my hysterectomy a month before my birthday, I would have been terminal.
What a word.
What an ugly ugly word.
I mean, we’re all going to die.
But a cancer diagnosis suddenly moves “Someday” into “Any Day.”
Every year, before cancer, on my surgiversary, I would do a little happy dance. I was down 130 pounds. Sure, I had dietary restrictions, but damn….I could pretty much eat a little bit of everything I really wanted to and still maintain a weightloss. My heart disease reversed itself. Literally, the blockages in my heart that had caused my heart attack were gone. Cholesterol was in a healthy, happy place. Blood pressure? 110/70 nearly every time I went to the doctor. HGBA1C (3 month glucose levels) were under 6.0. Weight, well, it wasn’t were I WANTED to be by any stretch of the imagination, but I was no longer “obese.” I was “overweight.”
And then, last year….boom.
I forgot all about my RNY. I mean, I didn’t FORGET about it, so to speak…but it no longer seemed significant.
And let me tell you folks, in my mind, I was insulted with my cancer diagnosis.
Insulted in the fact that I had done everything I could to get healthy, only to find out that part of what made me healthy (extreme weight loss) may have also led to what could be considered a terminal disease.
You see, when you are obese, your hormones hide. They store themselves up in your fat layers. They make it hard to become pregnant, or keep your glucose levels where they should be. They lead to a condition called PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). And I had it. Big time. And then, when I lost 130 pounds, I had a RUSH of those hormones that no longer had a place to hide. And this surge of excess hormones, in addition to my gene mutation (Lynch Syndrome), are a great big factor of what could have led to the adenocarcenoma in my uterus.
It’s also one of the reasons that I didn’t pick up on my symptoms sooner.
You see, I was anemic. Well, so are a LOT of people who have gastric bypass.
I had extremely heavy periods after weight loss surgery. And so do a large percentage of women who have gastric bypass.
I had aches and pains in my hip. Another symptom masked by significant weight loss. You see, when you lose a lot of weight and you lose it fast, your skeletal system goes through an adjustment period. Lots of folks think their arthritis will get better – when in fact, extreme weight loss can intensify it because your bones, which are so used to carrying around all that extra weight, actually have to adjust to NOT carrying all that weight around.
It’s no wonder it took eight months to diagnose my cancer.
So, now, I sit here…four years out of RNY. And I have gone through the ultimate hell. And I am still sitting here.
Thankfully, cancer free.
14 months, two weeks, and one day cancer free.
Awareness, my friends. Take no symptom for granted. Heed my warnings! Pay attention to your periods. Pay attention to your body. And if something just doesn’t feel right, get your ass to the doctor.
I will still celebrate with a small happy dance this Saturday. Because I am no longer obese.
But I will also celebrate another day of being alive. Alive, and cancer free. And for that little fact, I do a happy dance EVERY DAY.