- Question from Feather: I am 64 and work as a receptionist 50 hours a week out of necessity. I had a lumpectomy in my left breast in 2005. Did not have radiation or chemo. Grade 3, Stage 1. Since I sit all day, I am dragging at night and on the weekend. I have gone from a size 8 to a 14 — help?
- Answers - Ruth Oratz, M.D., F.A.C.P. This is not an uncommon scenario. Often when patients are debilitated from cancer and cancer treatments, their level of physical activity decreases significantly. Alterations in appetite and eating patterns, as well as sometimes the effect of the treatment itself, can lead to weight gain and fluid retention. It is very difficult, and I'm very sympathetic to how difficult it is to lose this weight. But it is important, and you're clearly recognizing, that you do get some help in this regard. The first thing is to speak with your doctor about the treatments you're receiving, and whether these treatments might be contributing to your weight gain. It would also be helpful to meet with a nutritionist who would carefully review your diet and how you can alter your eating pattern in a way that's sensible, not making drastic changes, but making gradual appropriate changes so you can have a slow but steady weight loss. It would also be helpful to have a consultation with either a physical therapist or a physical rehabilitation program to identify what type and what level of physical activity you could begin. It is very important to maintain an ideal body weight. There are many complications from obesity, including the risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, and other metabolic disorders. Your doctor should also evaluate carefully for other medical conditions that might be contributing to weight gain; for example, checking your thyroid function. Weight gain is usually the result of many factors: dietary, exercise, drugs you may be taking, as well as other medical conditions that are contributing, and psychological and emotion conditions that may cause some of us to eat more or some of us to eat less than usual. So you should be evaluated by your doctor with referrals to other specialists as warranted.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Working During Treatment featured Barbara Hoffman, J.D., Irene Card, and moderator Ruth Oratz, M.D., F.A.C.P. answering your questions about the legal, financial, physical, and emotional aspects of working during breast cancer treatment.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in September 2007.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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