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  • Writer's pictureSurviving Breast Cancer

No Matter Your Weight, Shape, or Size, You Matter.

By Kristen Carter


Dear Kristen, I have gained six or seven pounds since I finished chemo and began taking Letrozole. Nothing fits, I don’t feel like I look like a woman anymore, and my oncologist and PCP say there’s nothing they can do. Please help; I’m desperate and hate the way I look. B.E.

Dear B.E.


I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been struggling with this issue, which is one so many of us in our community face.


I am not a metabolism expert, but fortunately our president, Laura Carfang, has done some research on this AND has sought the advice of people who are. That content will begin to appear in this newsletter beginning in April or May.


One thing Laura discovered in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism is that women on Letrozole and other aromatase inhibitors had a greater percentage of body fat and insulin resistance compared to those with no history of breast cancer. They are also more likely to develop high cholesterol, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia.


In short, you are in very good company, even though you’d rather not be. Laura is also on Letrozole and wrote a blog not too long about her personal struggles with weight gain as well. When you next speak to your doctors about this, ask for targeted advice for your situation, and insist they take you seriously. What you are going through is tough and they may have recommendations to refer you to a nutritionist. Members in our breast cancer community also rave about the Live Strong program, which also provides participants with a gym membership.


As for the non-metabolic aspect of your question, as a life coach and someone who has experienced my own permanent physical changes due to cancer treatment, I would love to wave a magic wand over you and help you appreciate your body regardless of the numbers on the scale.


When I was first diagnosed and given a few weeks to live (I was already in liver failure), I realized just how precious this bag of skin and bones is to me. I was almost always critical of it until then, finding flaws by comparing myself to others and my own ideal image of myself.


All off a sudden, *poof*, it was my favorite place to be in the whole universe, and I wanted to keep it forever (or at least a few more decades).


I know my story is pretty dramatic, but all of us who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and lived through therapy could look down at our amazing bodies and say, “Geez, you’ve dealt with so much. Thank you for coping and getting me this far.”


Not only would kinder self-talk feel better, it could also help you achieve your health goals. According to research by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, being dissatisfied with your body leads to poorer health behaviors like binge eating, lower levels of physical activity, and less fruit and vegetable intake. It’s like we’re punishing the poor thing for not being the way we want it to be.


On the other hand, people with positive feelings about their bodies were more likely to engage in healthier behaviors.


Simple steps anyone can incorporate include:

  • Starting the morning off with a big glass of water to wake up your insides. I love the visual imagery of water washing over my body!

  • Incorporate movement into your day. Perhaps a stroll after dinner to wind down, or a few quick 10-minute walks throughout the day. I recently started Taxol, which has sapped my energy so much that even a stroll down the block and back feels like a long walk, but it makes me feel so much better.

  • Capture your feelings in a journal – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Laura noticed that when she starts journaling about the weight gain and frustration, she often ends her journal entry with “new day same goal” and recommits to making healthy choices one day at a time. We’re in it for the long game!

  • Try choosing one day a week where you eat vegetarian or vegan, and play around with new recipes.

  • And of course , check out the number of Movement Monday classes SBC offers, you’ll be with an amazing community of women who enjoy yoga, meditation, Zumba and more!


No matter your weight, shape, or size, you matter. You are lovable, loved passionately by the universe, and deserve to be kind to yourself.


I’ll let the poet Mary Oliver take it from here:


Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.


xo Kristen





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