During a medical checkup while I was recovering from the Whipple surgery for pancreatic cancer, one of the physicians told me that even though I was among the 10 percent who are eligible for that procedure, they probably would not have done it due to my age, 76, if I had not been as healthy and in as good physical condition as I was.
Based on that information, four years earlier – when I was 72 - they would have rejected me.
Back then I weighed more than 160 pounds (I am 5' 2” tall), couldn't walk up one flight of stairs carrying the groceries without stopping halfway to rest and got no more exercise than trying to climb those stairs or running the vacuum cleaner once a week.
When I realized, after being laid off from work in 2004 that it was unlikely I would be hired again, I sold my home in New York City and moved to Maine. What I also did was allow myself to eat all the things I'd kept to a minimum all my life to help maintain a reasonable weight – wonderful things like ice cream and cheese.
My weight crept up and up and up.
By late 2012, it was sometimes difficult to breathe even when walking on flat ground and I always avoided hills, even small ones. That's when I realized I had to get healthy or become incapacitated in some manner.
I devised an eating regimen that would keep me healthy while losing weight at a reasonable rate – about four to five pounds a month - and a daily exercise routine that combined old-fashioned calisthenics, some ballet exercises, resistance and weight training, flexibility work and tai chi.
A year later I was down to a consistent 120-125 pounds. I could walk for miles, up hill and dale and stairs and my exercise routine kept me strong.
A NEW STUDY RELATING CANCER AND OBESITY
There is a just-released study titled “Vital Signs” from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute showing an association between obesity and 13 kinds of cancer:
”As many as 40 percent of all cancers are related to obesity, according to the new research, which suggests that these cancers would be preventable if weight was kept under control...” reports Medical News Today.
“The findings are particularly important given the alarming statistics on obesity in the United States. Between 2013 and 2014, the CDC note, as many as 2 in 3 adults were deemed overweight or obese.”
Here are the 13 cancers:
According to The Guardian, deputy director of the CDC, Anne Schuchat, said their research
“'...found an increase in a number of types of cancers associated with obesity and overweight, at a period when the prevalence of obesity and overweight has increased substantially in the middle ages...The prevalence of obesity and overweight is starting to show up in our cancer statistics.'
“...In 2014,” continues The Guardian, “roughly 630,000 people in the US were diagnosed with overweight- or obesity-linked cancer. Two-thirds of those cases were in Boomer-generation adults, between 50 and 74.”
Having lost weight four years earlier didn't seem to affect my getting pancreatic cancer but all cancers are mysterious things. Some researchers I've read have talked about cancer cells living benignly in our bodies for many years, if not all our lives, and then something triggers them to go wild. Maybe, sometimes, obesity? No one knows. Yet.
This seems to be a particularly timely study for old people because so many of us put on excess weight as we grow older.
There are many more details of the study at those two links above, at the Centers of Disease Control and elsewhere around the web.