Forward by Leighann Sturgin Colon Club Blog Administrator and Colondar 2.0 Staff writer. Featured Survivor in May 2015 Colondar 2.0.
My friends 13 yr old, athletic, daughter, Chloe, is 5’4 3/4″ tall and weighs 98 lbs. My exact dimensions, although, my hips are wider (from carrying and birthing 2 children!) and I have breasts. I said to my husband, “How can we be the same dimensions but look so different? Chloe looks so much skinnier than me.” My husband replied “Chloe is all muscle.” In other words, Chloe is healthy. I am not. When Staci sent me what she wrote about “skinny-fat” and “healthy-sick,” two terms I’d never heard but describe me perfectly, I knew I had to post it to the Colon Club Blog. Like Staci I’m cancer free but with Short Bowel Syndrome and living 18 hours a day on IV fluids, I’m far from healthy. It’s so difficult to commit to chaperone my boys’ activities or even sign up to provide team meals. I never know when I’ll be spending a day on the toilet, on the couch or in the hospital. I’m grateful for every day and for friends like Staci who remind me I’m not alone.
Guest Blog by Staci Wills (pictured above) Read Staci’s story at www.colonclub.com/meet-ms-october-stacy-wills
“Skinny-fat” is a term I heard recently, and after reading about it, I thought it was a quite fitting description. If you are “skinny-fat,” you are skinny or thin, but you have no muscle tone. You look good, but you aren’t in good shape. I would like to add another word to the urban dictionary – “Healthy-Sick.” You are, by all medical tests and opinions, healthy. While you are cancer or illness free, long-term side effects wreak havoc on your daily or weekly activities.
I had stage III colorectal cancer. In short – chemo, radiation, surgery, chemo – colostomy for life and a Barbie Butt. I would have to say my Barbie Butt is cute, but not functional. It should be a little cuter, but it needs to hit the gym! Sorry – back to the topic at hand – “Healthy-Sick.” Treatment and surgery has left me with an abdomen full of scar tissue, and this fall I had laparoscopic surgery to remove or snip all of those adhesions that prevented my bowels from moving freely. Now months after surgery, those same symptoms are returning. I have missed more of children’s activities over the last year, than I have in six years combined! The weight of that, as a parent, is hard to carry.
Healthy-sick also comes with overweight emotional baggage! Seriously, there should be a fine for carrying this much guilt and frustration! I have been cancer-free for six years. How can I be so sick so often? How can I feel so emotionally drained? The life of the “Healthy-Sick” is like a pendulum. Life is great and all is well on one side of the pendulum, but it has to return to the other side at some point. Sometimes the pendulum seems to linger on one side or the other for a little longer, and some times it snaps back like a slingshot.
Living on a pendulum makes life quite unpredictable and makes me feel very unreliable. The kids have had a few overnight field trips that needed parent volunteers, and years ago, I would have signed the paperwork without hesitation. Today, I find myself overthinking my ability to participate. What if I sign it and then can’t go last minute? What if I go and get sick while away? You might think, so be it. Don’t let the “what if’s” hold you back, but when you’re not sure if you can count on your bowels to work that day, you don’t want your health to inconvenience those around you or those that are counting on you.
Today, I’m living in the middle of the pendulum and unsure which direction it might go next. Yes, I’m cancer-free. Yes, I’m healthy, but I can’t count on my body to allow me get through the day, let alone fully participate in life. Not many people can understand living on this pendulum. I always try to keep a positive attitude. I do believe living “Healthy-Sick” is slowly re-teaching me to enjoy each moment, each hour and each day – a lesson cancer taught me very quickly, and one that the return to a busy life has quickly made me forget.