cancer

All posts in the cancer category

When “You Look Great” Doesn’t Match How You Feel

Published June 26, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

“You’ve lost weight!  You look great!”

I’ve heard that quite a few times over the past week.  I’ve been conflicted as to what to say.  I don’t want to be rude (particularly if it’s someone at work), but I feel the need to respond with something other than positive/affirmative.  Because I haven’t looked great at all.  I’ve had shadows and bags underneath my eyes, I’m still coughing a lot of the time and I frequently turn green with nausea.

I haven’t looked great.  I have only looked thinner.

It has been two-fold.  First I was sick with a cold that turned into a chest infection.  It left me as weak as a kitten and with absolutely no energy.  I didn’t eat properly the whole week I was sick.  I was either too exhausted, too sore or when I did try to eat, it just made me cough more.  I’m lucky a friend dropped by with home made soup and rolls (and some other tasty noms for me to nibble at), or I probably wouldn’t have eaten anything solid all week.

Add to this that thanks to my recent diagnosis of T2 diabetes, I am back on Metformin again.  Diabex to be particular, though it doesn’t make much difference, all versions of Metformin make me sick.  Not to be indelicate, but they make me spend most of the day going back and forth to the toilet, with the occasional vomit in between.  At least for the first month or so taking it, and again when the dosage is changed.  I’m just settling down into my initial dosage now, and I know I have to adjust the dosage soon.

But I’ve lost some weight, so people say “You look great!”  Regardless of how I feel.

I have said many times before that this whole culture of thin supposedly equaling health actually has nothing to do with health and everything to do with appearance.  People see thin as “better” so they label it as “healthier”.

I have seen people who have weight loss surgery turn grey-skinned, lose their hair, have shadows and bags under their eyes, lose teeth, become physically frail and weak, their skin break out and develop chronic shaking.  Not to mention the things you can’t see – reflux, vomiting, bowel problems etc.  Yet they lose weight, so people say “You look great!”  When they are not well at all and their quality of life is far worse than it was when they were fat.  But we are so indoctrinated that thin = better, if anyone was to show genuine concern for how they feel physically, they become the enemy, the one who “doesn’t want me to be healthy.”

A few years ago, a friend of mine had cancer.  She had a hell of a fight on her hands and underwent huge doses of chemotherapy to try to beat it.  I remember at her lowest point, at the moment it was touch and go whether she would survive, people kept telling her she looked fabulous.  Simply because she’d gone from a fat lady to a thin lady.  Of course, she was dangerously ill and it was on the line as to whether or not she would survive.  But because she had lost weight, many people deemed that she “looked great”.

This happens a lot to fat people.  Even without any solicitation, all we have to do is look like we’ve lost even the tiniest amount of weight (even if it’s just clothing that makes us look this way) and people tell us we “look great”.  I remember in my deepest, darkest eating disorder days when I starved, purged and exercised myself down to my thinnest (which was a size 16-18 – I’m currently a size 26) and I was desperately unhappy because being thin didn’t fix my life at all, and I was physically sick from all the ways I was punishing my body, people told me that I looked great.  They told me I was awesome, fabulous and amazing.  Without ever once asking me how I felt.  Which was miserable and sick.

If that’s what I have to do to look great in the eyes of the world… no thanks.  I’d rather feel good, trust my body to show me what it needs, feed it as best I can and move it in ways that I enjoy, and stay fat than do that kind of damage to myself in the name of looking good.

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Goal Reached! Now Let’s Double It!

Published December 22, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I am thrilled, elated, delighted and beside myself to share with you all that today, Operation Baldy whizzed past the initial goal of raising $1000 for the Cancer Council of Australia.  With currency conversions factored in, we’re currently sitting at about $1150AU  I really have no words for how awesome all of those who have donated so far are.  So much generosity, many of you I have never even met.  A few of you completely unknown to me.  If anyone tells you there is no power, no kindness, no generosity in the internet… you send them over here for a chat to me.

So, just in case I have some new readers out there (and I think I do) who haven’t yet been introduced to Operation Baldy, here’s a quick rundown.

A month or so ago, just after the latest ridiculous Facebook “awareness campaign” for Breast Cancer, I decided to put my money where my mouth was.  Well, in fact, your money where my hair is.  I could never donate anything near $1000 on my own, so I decided that on Australia Day 2010 (26th of January for any non-Aussies), I will shave my head, right down to skin to raise money for the Cancer Council of Australia, who have done some amazing work with cancer research (partially funded the discovery and development of Gardisil, the cervical cancer vaccine among other things) which benefits cancer patients around the world.

I am intending to go from this:
PhotobucketPhoto courtesy of Bri King

To something that looks somewhat like this:

Photobucket

Ok maybe without the chicken feet.  I will be holding some kind of picnic or barbecue event on the day so that locals can come along and *cough* encourage me to go through with it (hold me down kicking and screaming if need be!) and also help me say goodbye to my hair.  Plus of course we need lots of photographers so that I can share with you all afterwards!

So, originally I set the goal of raising $1000.  Today, thanks to a very, VERY generous donation of $500 (you know who you are, gorgeous!), I rocketed past that first goal.  I think in the little over a month left before Australia Day, I can double that.

I believe that people with cancer give up so much, the least I can do is give up my hair for awhile.

I’ve set up paypal for the US Dollar.

And the UK£.

And the Australian Dollar.

Or for the Aussies, if you prefer I’m willing to take cheque, money order or direct bank deposit, just email me and we’ll sort something out.  And I can provide an Australian tax receipt too if you’d like to claim it on your tax.

So, can you help?  Every dollar, indeed every CENT, is important and helpful.  I promise to blog/tweet/facebook the progress and results on Australia Day.  And if you come along to the party, you can rub my bald head for luck as well, but it will cost you a gold coin donation!

Operation Baldy – Update

Published November 25, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

So for those of you who missed my earlier post a couple of weeks ago about Operation Baldy, I have decided to shave off my long hot pink hair, right down to the skin, on Australia Day (January 26th) to raise money for the Australian Cancer Council.  Here’s what my hair looks like now:

Photobucket

Big and pink.  And fluffy.

So, I’ve never actually shaved my head right down to the skin before.  I’ve clippered it mega short, but not completely bald.  Even after having a couple of weeks to think about the idea, it still scares me shitless, but I believe wholeheartedly that while there are people with cancer losing their hair unwillingly, and losing their independence, their incomes, their relationships, their social lives, their sense of taste and smell, various parts of their bodies and some ultimately their lives, I can do something that scares and challenges me to help raise money to fight cancer.

I have set a goal of $1000 (Australian Dollars) to raise by the 26th of January.  As you can see by my wee ticker over there on the right, I’ve already passed the quarter mark, and I still have two months left.  But do you know what?  How awesome, how fucking amazing would it be, if we could SMASH that goal of $1000 and hit double that.  Or more.  How awesome would it be for me to blog here in two months with a photo of my shiny, naked head with a great big dollar amount to report as the amount to donate to the Australian Cancer Council?  And to be able to point to all of you, and say: YOU DID THIS!

That would be so awesome, it would be more awesome than Hugh Jackman riding a sparkly unicorn under a double rainbow beside Neil Patrick Harris on a glitter Pegasus, while the Mythbusters obliterate an ocean liner with high explosives in the background.

Ok, maybe it wouldn’t be that awesome, but it would be pretty damn awesome.

How can you contribute?  Well, here we have a few links for you:

Donate by Paypal (US$)

Donate by Paypal (GBP£)

Donate by Paypal (AU$)

For Aussies: Email me for a bank deposit or to send a cheque or money order.  For those of you who are locals to me here in BrisVegas, I’m happy to take cash and deposit it myself!

That should cover most of you.  If there is some other format of donation that suits you, email me and we’ll see what we can do.

Thank you so much, from the very bottom of my heart, to those of you who have donated already.  You are all awesome, in a quite Hugh Jackman/sparkly unicorn/double rainbow/NPH/glitter Pegasus/Mythbusters explosion kind of way.

Let me just finish this post with a quote that was on my “Wild Words from Wild Women” desk calendar yesterday:

Once you’ve had chemotherapy, there’s no such thing as a bad-hair day.
Elizabeth Tilberis

Operation Baldy!

Published November 13, 2010 by Fat Heffalump
*note, I will be cross posting this across all of my blogs.

I just made a decision this morning.  It’s a pretty big decision, I think it might be a pretty radical decision.  And I’m going to need your support, friends, fatties and other readers.

Many of you know how vocal I am about my dislike for a lot of the marketing that goes with cancer campaigns, and a lot of the silly memes that pop up on Facebook and Twitter and the like.  I find it offensive that breast cancer is objectified with all of those “Save the Ta Tas” and “Feel Your Boobies” kind of campaigns, the bucket loads of ridiculous pink schlock you can buy to supposedly raise money.  I loathe that breast cancer is glamourised over any other kind of cancer, just because it’s to do with tits, which are deemed public property by our culture.

Cancer is not sexy, ever.  Nor is it a game or a meme, or some pretty merchandise.

It’s devastating, frightening and rage inspiring.  I have lost dear friends to cancer.  I would give all the pink crap in the world back to have them here with us.  I have other friends who have battled cancer and survived.  I wish that they never had to bear the burdens that they have had to bear.

I want to do something that really does help, and the only thing I can see to do that will really make a difference is to pump as much money into cancer research as possible.  For ALL cancer types, not just the ones that are seen as glamorous and sexy.

So… I want to put my money where my  mouth is.  Only I don’t have much money.  So I’m going to put my hair where my mouth is, and ask you folk to help me with the money.

I have decided that on January 26th (Australia Day) I am going to shave my head.  I’m going to do something that really frightens me, and challenges me and I’m asking all of you, to help me reach a fund raising goal of AU$1000 for the Australian Cancer Council in doing so.  It would be great if we could raise more than a grand, but let’s start there.

I have chosen the Australian Cancer Council for two reasons.  One, they cover all forms of cancer, not just one or two.  And secondly because my home country of Australia has some of the leading cancer research in the world.  In fact, we have some of the leading medical research in the world.  The vaccine for HPV, which is what causes most cervical cancer, was developed right here in my home city of Brisbane.

When I say shave my head, I mean all the way.  No hair, bald as an egg, right down to the skin with a razor.  Surely that’s worth a thousand bucks right?

I’ll be honest, it scares the shit out of me.  I have been thinking about shaving my head as a bit of an act of defiance against the notion that my femininity is tied up in my long hair, but when I really thought about it, that wasn’t enough.  I want to do something to challenge myself into really pushing my boundaries to raise awareness and money for cancer research, because just playing some silly meme on Facebook is not enough.

For women, long hair is a symbol of femininity.  I’ve clung to that symbol because being a fat woman robs me of my femininity (add to that the fact that I also have PCOS, which also robs women of their femininity).  My hair has been long (about down to my bra-strap, give or take a couple of inches) now for about 6 or 7 years, and as many of you know, I dye it hot pink these days.  Pink is no accident – it’s another symbol of femininity .  Of course, long hair and pink are both completely arbitrary symbols of femininity, they’re no more feminine than short hair or the colour blue, but you all know how hard it is to resist cultural norms right?

Cancer robs men and women of so many things.  Their independence, their health, their social lives, their savings/income, their friendships, their enjoyment of things in life, and ultimately for some, it robs them of their lives.

The least I can do is give up my hair for awhile.

I’ve chosen Australia Day so that a) it will be a public holiday and locals can come along to a head shaving party to encourage me (*cough* push me *cough*) into following through with it.  The weather should be warm on my bare head, and it’s the beginning of my vacation, so I have time to organise an event and follow up with the fund raising afterwards.  I have already asked my friends Nadia and Kylie to be the hairdressers on the day, and I’d like to organise a picnic lunch or something for people to come along to.

But for now, I’m asking all of you to help.  Help me get to $1000, shave my head and let’s make a difference.  I’ve made a donate button and posted it below, and on the right of the page, but it’s not showing up yet. I’ll keep working on getting it visible!

I’ve set up a project account there in my name (Codename: Operation Baldy!) to stash any funds raised until the end of the project and I can donate it to the Australian Cancer Council.

Anything you can donate is welcome.  A dollar.  Five dollars.  A hundred dollars!  Anything is welcome, as it all adds up.  We have just over two months to get to this goal of $1000, and I am SURE we can do it.  Hey, you’re not even the ones losing your hair!!

Update: let’s try this link:

Donate here!