• Jessi Stetina

Latest Diet Craze: Cancer!

So I’ve always struggled with my weight. I was a slim child, but I began to put on weight in high school and I didn’t always have the healthiest attitude towards weight as an example at home. I say I began to put on weight in high school meaning more I became more aware of weight in high school. I was perfectly healthy in high school, landing in a solid 10/12 size wise, but looking at photos, I can see I looked even slimmer than that. I’ve always carried weight well. Even at my heaviest weight, I imagine people would be shocked to hear the number because it never really looked as heavy as that.

I remained pretty slim slim through my early twenties when a one-two punch of Polcystic Ovarian Syndrome and Hypothyroidism began to make it difficult for me to not gain weight. I put on a great deal of weight in one year, and it just stuck. I’ve waffled a little here and there, but nothing huge. The issue was, even with being heavy, I was always very healthy. My weight was a symptom of other issues, not the cause. My blood pressure was always good, cholesterol was always good, and I really had no issues at all as it related to my weight. My doctor told me as much and said while it’s still a good idea to stay within a healthy BMI, that I shouldn’t stress too much about it.

And I really just love food. I love trying new foods, I love foods from all sort of cultures. I love being with friends, enjoying some amazing food. I love where I live because I am so close to so many amazing, diverse places to eat. Baltimore, DC, New York even - so close.

Cut to present day. Calling me ‘healthy’ is hardly what any of my doctors are doing, although my blood pressure is still good! But cancer certainly came with a big side effect in my life - weight loss. Or should I say chemo did that? Regardless, since beginning treatment I’ve lost close to 40 pounds, and I keep steadily dropping weight. Clothes wise I’ve been okay, because I’m fortunately in a place where I can wear leggings all the time. So I haven’t had to buy a new wardrobe. That comes when I ring the bell that I’m cured and get to go on a shopping spree!

I hear it the weight often comes back after chemo is finished, but here’s the rub for me. In meeting my surgeon again yesterday, he mentioned that in looking at my pictures again he noticed there was some disease on my stomach, so in my surgery next week they may have to remove part of my stomach. They may have to remove all, attaching my esphogus directly to my small intestine. Essentially there is a chance in my surgery next week that it will include necessary bariatric surgery, which is going to result in even more weight loss. Drastic weight loss.

I think back on the times I lamented about my weight, wishing I could be skinny. I’m sure I even wished for ‘any means necessary’, but boy do I take that back!

I‘m not afraid of this surgery, but boy am I not looking forward to the idea of not being able to eat normal again. To be perfectly clear, my goal is to live, and I’ll learn to live any which way I have to. But I mourn the idea of not being able to enjoy food they way I’ve always enjoyed food. I’ve always dreamt of a trip to Europe, trying all the amazing food each country has to offer. What will that look like if I do not have a stomach? I can take a small bite, and then have to wait an hour before I can taste something else?

And it’s not like I can take too much advantage of what may be my last week with a stomach. I’ve been fighting nausea recently, and haven’t been able to stomach a whole lot. So it’s there isn’t even a last ’hoorah’.

It’s just that cancer has taken a lot from me - I didn’t expect it to take away the food that I love.


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