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  • Writer's pictureSusan Lorimor

Getting healthy is not about being 'skinny;' it's about preventing a cancer recurrence

Today I tried on some swimsuits at Target, and I knew I had to resume running three days per week. Before you tell me that I should love myself and accept my body for what it is, let me tell you that this is about health. The more fat you have on your body, the greater your risk for cancer or a recurrence of it. And, I do not want to go through what I did last year, in active treatment for cancer, fighting it with all I had.


The combination of steroids, which I received through an IV during each chemo session, inactivity and extra sweets meant that I put on weight. I gained about 12 pounds since I began fighting cancer. And, my body fat percentage is 34 percent, which is toward the upper end of healthy for me. At one point years before treatment, my body fat percentage was 20.8.


In fact, as I put on pounds last year, one of my doctors told me I needed to start watching my weight. He was right. I was becoming unhealthy. So, while I may have a small frame, looks can be deceiving.


What bothered me the most after I had finished chemo last year and was in the midst of other, continued treatment, two people told me, "Well, you were too skinny before." Too skinny according to whom? I understand that that was an objective assessment from people who really did not know me, but it did not feel good. They were telling me that there was something wrong with my body prior to treatment.


Prior to my breast cancer diagnosis, I was running four days per week and eating healthy. I was at a high fitness level. I was not skinny: I was simply fit. 'Skinny' to me means malnourished. To some, it may imply molding yourself to fit society's idea of what is acceptable. I was not doing that; I was working out to feel good about myself and to be healthy.


Do not get me wrong: Healthy comes in all shapes and sizes. For me, it is about what is healthy based upon my body frame and doing what I can to prevent a cancer recurrence.

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