Weighty Issues

Posted on April 19, 2014. Filed under: APL, Cancer, diet, leukemia, survivorship, weight loss |

My last post was about losing weight. They say this is difficult as we age, but I tend to do things out of order, so maybe I will have better luck. As of this week, I’ve lost about 12 pounds since the beginning of February. Not bad. And, I don’t feel like I’m suffering. I still eat chocolate, but portion control is king. The girl in the refrigerator still works and she’s expanded her influence to other behaviors, like procrastination, exercise avoidance, etc.

However, I have hit an energy plateau. I feel very fatigued. I’m in bed by midnight-ish, which is good for me, but I’m usually not awake until about 9 or  dressed by 10:30–unless I have to be somewhere.

I don’t get tired. I get leukemia–NOT.

For awhile, I was concerned about recurrence, but I’m lacking the stupendous bruises and extended bloody noses. I have a blood check scheduled for mid May, but it will probably by fine. Google searches only turn up studies on recurrence, not long-term symptoms. For some answers, Scott and I attended a seminar on what to do after cancer at the Cancer Wellness Center. The facilitator discussed recurrence and suggested talking to the doctors when symptoms arise. I asked, “What does one do when they tell you that you should be feeling fine?” Others in the group let out a few, “Yeah, what do you do then?” No good answers followed. The result: I dragged myself around feeling like a failure at recovery for a few days.

Hence, Facebook. I’m in a group of APL survivors. It’s small—not because few survive, but because this form of leukemia is rare. I posted my woes and received enough responses to know I’m not alone. Most group members are younger because younger people know how to join a Facebook group and APL is a younger person’s disease. One member said she’s finally starting to feel better 1-1/2 years after treatment ended. Another is now experiencing chronic fatigue. I’m only 5 months out so now I’m cutting myself a break. Many others mentioned having the sleepies. Meanwhile, I’m taking more naps and trying to increase my energy with exercise. Yuck, exercise. Well, maybe I’ll lose a few more pounds.

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There’s a Child in My Refrigerator

Posted on February 25, 2014. Filed under: Cancer, diet |

Just when most people are trying to forget they made any New Year’s resolutions, I have committed to losing 50 pounds this year. This is not a foreign concept to me. I’ve written so many articles on nutrition, exercise and weight loss. At a few high points in my adult life, I’ve even reached a reasonable weight, so it’s not like I don’t know how it’s done. The trick is not achieving the weight loss, but maintaining it without feeling tortured. is a good site/app to help keep it real. You enter your goal and it gives you a calorie limit. Then, each day, you log in and enter what you’ve consumed. Along with that, I taped a very unflattering photo of myself to the shelf inside our refrigerator. I put it inside because I knew that within a week, I’d ignore it if it was on the outside. However, rather than letting repulsion reset my desires, it sparked the rebel within. I’d open the door, see the photo and think, “Yeah, Yeah, go ahead and stop me. Now, where did I put that cheesecake?” The photo was clearly not helping.

About a week later, I was scanning some old photos and came across one of me at age 10-ish. It was taken at my grandparent’s home. I looked straight at the camera, with a “What are you gonna do, now?” expression on my face. When I scanneOldies 1_0001-004d it, the blue eyes stood out and seemed to accentuate the question. I thought about all the bullshit that was ahead for this child all the disappointments and struggles.  I thought about how great it would be for her to live out the rest of her life with the gusto and wonder a 10-year old expects life to be. It occurred to me that this photo might be an excellent replacement for the old fat lady in the refrigerator.

Within 24 hours, the little girl in the refrigerator was shifting something in my core. Opening the refrigerator and making questionable choices became akin to child abuse. Even when I was out and contemplating a drive-thru, she came to mind. My younger self was in my care and what was I going to do with her? Neglect her? Be a bad example? Or help her to live her dreams? Duh.

This does NOT mean that she can’t have the things she likes. It means those choices are made mindfully. There is still cheesecake in our refrigerator.  She eats about 1500 calories a day with an increasing proportion of vegetables. One day a week, she does not  log in to to calculate intake. Her presence has inspired me to return to the pool, so last week I completed 40 minutes of laps. I also used my yoga DVD for 30 minutes. I lost nine pounds in the past five weeks without feeling tortured.

I think this might work with almost any goal. If you’re trying to change careers let your 10-year old self haunt your choices–and let’s see where this goes.

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    A writer and cancer survivor chronicles her renewed dedication to art and words..


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