Monday, May 5, 2008

Not About Food

Today was the day I have been dreading and anticipating for about five weeks. When they told me on the phone last month, all I heard was "pre-cancerous cells," "need to have this taken care of," and "biopsies and excision." I was scared stiff. I had a mini breakdown for all of ten minutes, and then I put it on the back burner and went about my life. I even kept losing weight.

Last night, the anxiety hit me. I started to really worry. How much would it hurt? What exactly were they going to do to me? How much treatment would I need? What is going to happen to me? But all of this was almost immediately turned into: What if I binge? How will I handle this without eating too much? What will I do for comfort? What if I gain back all my weight and get huge and miserable again? How will I possibly avoid a binge after this procedure?

I spent the entire evening fretting about calories and food. I talked to friends about it, I posted on message boards about it. "What if I binge???" I just KNEW that after bottling up my emotions and going through a stressful procedure alone, I would walk right out of that clinic and head straight for the bakery or the McDonald's or the candy aisle... or all three. I had visions of myself eating 5000 calories in one day like I used to. And a whole pizza for dinner. And then, what if I couldn't stop? What if I couldn't turn it around again, and one binge led to another, and another, and I blimped back up to 280+? By bedtime I was in a panic about how I would stop myself from binging.

Then, when I was at my wit's end, right before bed I was about to brush my teeth. And as I stood there looking in the mirror, I heard a thought in my head:

"This is NOT ABOUT FOOD. It has NOTHING TO DO WITH FOOD."

And I suddenly knew that was true. It's about my fear of the culposcopy, the biopsies, the excision. It's about my fear of cancer. It's about my absolute terror at the thought of not being there to raise my children. It's being scared to pieces and having no one to really talk to or comfort me.

This morning I got up and went to the clinic. I kept it together. I laid on the table and the doctor did his thing. After awhile, he told me to sit up. He was not going to do a biopsy after all. The "area of concern" was just too large and needed to be cut out completely. I would have to schedule the surgery for another day. But, he said, after the surgery there is a 99% cure rate, so that is good. The doctor was able to get me in this Thursday afternoon, thank goodness. I told him, the waiting is the worst part.

And so I walked out of there, got to my car, and...

(Flashback to stressful medical appointments of the past)... I sat stoically, fighting back all the emotions. Holding it together until I could get to the nearest drive through. A couple of bacon-egg-cheese biscuits, and orange juice and a coffee later, I drove to the grocery store. I bought 4 frosted donuts, a pint of chocolate milk, a couple bags of candy. I sat in my car, staring ahead, numbly shoving them in. Only when my stomach was painfully full and I could not eat a single bite more, I stopped, threw away all the trash, and drove home comfortably anesthetized and able to face the rest of the day without thinking about my fears.

But not today. Today I walked out of there, got in my car, and just sobbed, my head in my hands. I felt the fear, as well as the relief, and the tears rolled hotly down my cheeks. I let it all out. I wiped my face and drove to the park. I got out of my car, and I walked and walked in the peaceful morning, listening to the birds and feeling the sun and the breeze. At first the tears welled in my eyes as I walked. I was tense and scared. I remembered how I used to walk to clear my head when I was younger, but when I was 278 pounds I could not walk 20 feet, much less a few blocks. I walked and walked at the park. After awhile, I started to feel more relaxed. I sat on a bench and stared out across the water. I listened to the geese and the gulls. I thought, and felt, and breathed. I let myself think about everything. And I never once thought about food, because it was Not About Food. After an hour, I walked back to my car and drove home. On the way, I stopped and got a sugar free iced coffee. When I got home I felt okay. I was okay, am okay. I am not a basket case, I processed the thoughts and feelings, and I have no desire to binge. I rode my bike. I strength trained. I feel okay and I can deal with whatever comes on Thursday. And I am thankful to be alive.

Please remember. It is NOT ABOUT FOOD.

Remember that one thing.

18 comments:

Vickie said...

MAJOR HUGS.

A park was wonderful idea. Walking was a wonderful idea too.

I totally agree - waiting is the hardest part. It is good that they are getting in there and getting it tested so that you can deal with it.

RunningNan said...

Great post. It's so true. It's not about food! We will all be here waiting with you!

Jeper Drai said...

Best of luck. I will be thinking of you.

JD

Anonymous said...

your post was so great to read. my thoughts are with you for what you are going through

Teale said...

I will be thinking about you Thursday and hoping the best for you. You have truly made both the physical AND mental turn around. You are doing great & you will continue to do great things:)

Dinah Soar said...

Another huge victory for you!

The doctor is right about the 99% cure rate. It's good he didn't do a biopsy due to the large size...that might have spread it should it be cancerous due to bleeding.

It's highly likely it is not cancerous...may be precancer. At any rate should it be cancer the surgery to remove it will probably be the only treatment you will need.

So think positive...the prognosis is great. I'm a 16 year cancer survivor (breast cancer at age 42)..not everyone dies from cancer.

And, note, I got the cancer not long after I'd successfully lost my excess 50 pounds (that was the first time)! I'd always had an irrational fear that if I lost weight something bad would happen---like a famine in the land, or my husband would lose his job and we'd be penniless. But I took the risk anyway after being so tired of the excess weight...and voila...something bad did happen...but the world didn't end.

You are so right..it's not about food...it's about life and living that life as God intended.

Good for you not putting your life on hold because of a cancer scare.

And that voice that spoke to you--that's the voice of God. I had almost the same exact experience in front of the mirror as you.

I was in cosmetology school and half way through realized I hated it...but I didn't want to quit because of the financial investment and the fact that I'm not a quitter. So I was wishing the time away.

Every day I'd think about getting through the next few months and having it behind me, wishing my life away, to the future months when school was over...I was living for that and nothing else.

One morning when I was getting ready, dreading going, I was looking into the mirror---doing my hair and make up---and a voice said to me "don't wish your life away; you don't know what the future holds; find joy in today".

I was shocked and it brought me up short. I realized that down the road in a few months terrible things could come to pass...I might be a widow or a child could die...so I needed to make the best of the "now" and enjoy all the blessings that had been given to me.

While I didn't like school any better, I learned a valuable lesson that remains to this day. God holds our present as well as our future. Our times are in His hands. And if we will look to Him he will be there, He is there already, to comfort us and extend grace in not only our times of great need, but all the time.

The Bible says He loves us with an everlasting love and underneath are the everlasting arms. Rest today in those arms knowing you are safe in Him.

Ceres said...

Dear Lyn,
my thoughts are with you, I hope everything goes well on Thursday. I admire your strength and determination, your kids have a wonderful mother.

Anonymous said...

Stay strong Lyn! Wishing you the best this Thursday.

Tai

Lynne said...

Only worry about what is in your control... I know, better said than done. I'll be thinking of you! CHIN UP - Mouth closed:)

Honi said...

BRAVO!!!!! I know you are scared.. and you are right it is not about food its about fear.. The good news is .. it sounds like it can be fixed.. and then you will heal .. and be back to everything you enjoy doing... I thank you for doing something so totally different when you got that news.. I thank you for crying.. I thank you for walking.. I thank you for changing a vicious cycle in your life.. I am hoping that when Mom has her heart surgery I can just be scared.. instead of eating the fear away so I can be the tough one for everyone else.. It is so okay.. to just allow ourselves to feel things.. really feel them.. that my friend is the bravest thing we can every do for ourselves.. The food lasts just a second and causes years and years of damage and pain.. the fear scares us but when we let it go.. and let it out.. its gone for a while and when it comes back.. and we cry , kick or scream and let it out.. its gone again.. Fear only becomes damage when you turn it into food.. Much luck to you my friend.. please let us know how everything goes.. we will be waiting!!!!

The Duchess of Wessex said...

I will be thinking of you! It's going to be okay... Thank you for your Blog. I am stronger because of you.

Heather said...

wow, Im sorry to hear that after everything, it was cancelled, but Im so proud that you did not head to food when things felt rough. it sounds like whta you did instead is so much better mentally for you. eating all that food wont help matters one bit and you are smart enough to realize that.

Sarah said...

Good for you! My twin sis is going through something similar. Very scary, but it's a process, you deal and get through it and come out the other side. And you will come out the other side stronger and healthier than you have ever been.

Hanlie said...

Hi Sweetie! I'm so proud of you I've got tears in my eyes! Well done!

I will be thinking of you Thursday...

BikiniMe said...

Powerful, powerful post. Thank you so much for sharing the truth of your journey and allowing us to learn from you. I've heard that voice, too -- I, personally, don't believe it is "God", I tend to think is it My Best Self, reminding me of the truth in each moment. Bravo on letting yourself FEEL your emotions. That is a very hard thing for many of us to do.

Anonymous said...

You are so strong! I'm sure everything will turn out fine for you. Best of luck.

Kate said...

((hug))

Waiting is tough, but remember that pre-cancerous cells do NOT always mean cancer... pre-cancerous cells may NEVER become cancer. Even if you had cancer and they were doing the surgery, with a success rate as high as it is, you'd be fine.

Just remember that this is precautionary.

I know it's hard, but it sounds like you're in good hands with your doctor.

I'll be thinking of you today!

I have to say, I really admire you for keeping in mind that this is NOT about food.

Anonymous said...

it's thursday, and i'm praying for you RIGHT NOW.

Weezie