THE BLOG
08/26/2013 11:54 am ET | Updated Oct 26, 2013

At the Top of My Lungs: Food for Thought

"Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside." -- Mark Twain

Does this chemo make me look fat?

If I had to have cancer, maybe I'd have just enough to get me back into my skinny jeans. Don't get me wrong. I didn't want to lose weight to the point of being alarmingly thin, or even uncomfortably hungry. I knew that it was critical to maintain my health and strength in order to tolerate the treatments and fight the cancer. Still, would it be so bad if I dropped a few pounds?

I received dietary advice from all quarters and many admonitions to immediately begin eating macrobiotic or vegan. I asked my oncologist about this and he gave me an answer I loved. He said, "Eat whatever you want." He told me that any abrupt change to my nutritional habits would put strain on my system, and since I generally eat a healthy diet, I should keep eating what I normally would. He also said that he likes his patients pudgy and I should eat a little more than usual, to put some padding on in case I needed it.

"Oh, waiter! More Häagen-Dazs, please! Doctor's orders!"

I stocked up on my favorite delicacies -- ice cream, pâté, pasta with truffle sauce, and all of the gooey, stinky cheeses I adore. Also a good supply of fruit, vegetables and healthy proteins. I even went so far as to get a six-pack of Ensure, in case I really couldn't keep food down and needed to make every bite count with maximum calories. I just didn't know what to expect.

food

During chemo, I was surprised to find that I could eat everything. Each day I was pumped full of anti-nausea meds before they hit me with the hard stuff. This made me bloated and uncomfortable, but I never lost my appetite. The main side effect from chemo was that I was extremely tired, but that was easily dealt with by taking regular cat naps, often with actual cat.

In the first weeks of treatment, I had few side effects apart from fatigue. I thought perhaps I had dodged a bullet and would skate through without much discomfort.

In thinking I had dodged a bullet, I had merely jumped the gun. It would be clear in the coming weeks just what a tough battle this would be, and the best weight for me was my fighting weight.

This column was originally posted on parade.com. For more by Jennifer Glass, click here. "Like" her Facebook page here. See her Fear.Less. video here.

For more by Jennifer Glass, click here.

For more on personal health, click here.