(To be honest, I heard more about people who died from breast cancer in my first three weeks of diagnosis than I have heard since then. It was a knee-jerk reaction for most folks to respond to the "I have breast cancer" with "Oh, no, my ______________ died of breast cancer!")
As people absorb the shock and as treatment becomes "routine," different thoughts and ideas pop out of mouths. Here are the two most common ones:
1. At least plastic surgery will give you new, perfect breasts!
2. At least you will lose weight.
Okay. Deep breath. To be honest, I've not heard the first response as I've been pretty open about my views on plastic surgery. However, the plastic surgery comment consistently comes out as the number one or number two thing that people will talk about as they adjust to a loved one's diagnosis.
I most likely will NOT have plastic surgery of any kind. I'm just not interested, regardless of whether I get a lumpectomy, mastectomy or a double mastectomy. I'm not going to say "never" as I need to allow myself flexibility to change my mind, but from the beginning, this was just not something that I've considered. After close to a year of treatments/surgery, etc., I really don't want any else to do with hospitals and surgical procedures. Just not for me. I'm okay with it and I'm okay discussing it with people.
However, the weight thing hits close to home. Weight is a struggle for me anyway. So, yes, the thought of losing weight (albeit, not the best way to do so), was a possible "benny" for me.
But it ain't so! Believe it or not, many women with breast cancer (if not, most) GAIN weight while undergoing chemotherapy! I lost about 12 pounds during the first four cycles of chemotherapy and that was okay. However, the doctor has warned me that I could gain 20 - 30 pounds on the last four rounds! YIKES! I know of one friend, in particular, who is anxious to know how much weight I will end up losing while on chemo. She has repeatedly said that "at least you will be thin when this is all over." What is she going to think when I'm not?
The steroids I have to take to counteract allergic reactions and inflammation cause water retention and bloating. While I've gained back only five pounds, my hands are swollen and my face is puffy. I'm looking more round with each passing day. (That means I'm in shape because round is a shape, right?) I. do. not. like. this! Vanity, thy name is Vickie!