Thursday, May 24, 2007

A donut can't fight cancer...

I've been talking a good talk since I started my blog and my WW journey.

I've been writing every point, working out, exercising, telling myself to make better choices. It was all pretty good.

Until last night.

To understand what last night was to me, you have to know about my grandfather. He is one of the loves of my life. Every day, he used to pick me up from school when I was a little one and take me to the park and play. Sounds like routine grandpa behavior, right? Well, not from him.

To everyone else, my grandpa is the strong, silent type. He's your typical Cuban man. Nothing ever gets him down, no one ever gets too close. Until I was born and that went out the window.

I was the apple of his eye, the pride of his world. He took me everywhere with him, showed me off to all his friends. Afternoons in the park with a happy meal and a push on the swing made my days so blissful. He'd take me to the bookstore and buy me all the books I wanted. Would let me sit in the kitchen and watch him cook. He taught me about baseball, about who my family was and where we came from.

I was his world and he was mine.

When my parents divorced, I always liked to say my mom became my mother and my father but as an adult, I realized now she had a whole lot of help from my grandparents. Everyone worked to try and make life as normal for me as possible. My grandparents became second parents.

My grandfather became my father.

A few years ago, when he was diagnosed with both prostate and skin cancer, my world was shattered. I still remember sitting in the hospital as he went through treatments to overcome them both. When he did, more than ever, I knew he was my hero.

He nearly cried when I asked him to walk me down the aisle when I married and to this day, one of my favorite moments of the day was how as he guided me to the altar, he looked to where our family was seated and gave them a thumbs-up sign.

Just as he had made my mother a strong, independent, incredible adult woman, he knew he'd done his best to make his granddaughter the same.

Do you have a picture now of how much this man means to me? To my family? Now you're able to understand why last night, it seemed as if my world screeched to a halt and the only consolation I could find was in an old friend---food.

I was at my mom's helping her pack for a weekend away when I decided to call Abuelo and see how he was doing. He was frustrated. The Marlins had managed to score four runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie their game with the Phillies only to blow it an inning later and lose.

Baseball's a religion to him and for a few minutes he went on about how the Marlins could do that, almost as if it was a personal affront. But I wanted my real questions answered...he'd had a doctor's appointment earlier that day to gauge how his cancer had progressed. He, and eventually we, had learned it was back a few weeks earlier.

I asked how it went and he dodged the question beautifully. But that's how he is. He'll tell anyone but me if something is wrong.

So I knew something was wrong.

I handed the phone to my mother who a few moments later was biting back tears and trying to control her anger. His PSA levels were elevated. His doctor wanted a biopsy. Now. My grandfather....did not.

When she hung up and I probed for answers, she shared that information. My grandfather, at 84 years old, didn't want biopsies or surgeries. He had already undergone a certain kind of radiation that could only be done once, so it wasn't an option now. His doctor, after trying to change his mind, finally resigned himself and told my grandfather they would just have to monitor the situation and he'd have another series of tests done in a few months.

I was livid.

Cancer is cancer, people. We all know when it comes back, it's usually more aggressive. His PSA levels, though not as critically high as they could have been, were elevated and had risen enough in the past month to alarm his doctor. I couldn't accept that my grandfather was giving up. That he didn't want to try and fight this time.

Before I knew it, I was standing in my mother's kitchen ripping into a chocolate glazed donut as if my teeth were personally attacking my grandfather's cancer. I was angry. I was chewing furiously. I was about to dig into my second chocolate glazed when I stepped away from the box.

No donut was going to cure his cancer. No donut was going to make him change his mind about treatment. No donut was going to make me or him feel better.

I guess it's good that I realized that and that I didn't blindly blow through the dozen. But I still felt terrible and helpless.

And for a moment, I felt like a diet failure, even if my diet wasn't at the front of my mind.

I've had time to re-assess and gauge why that happened and I still don't have any answers. Other than the fact that when times get tough, all I want is food. Preferably sugary and high in fat.

That has got to change. If I'm going to make the effort to become a happier, healthier person, I have to find ways to deal with my feelings. I have to find other ways to feel better. I can't find support from a Dunkin Donuts box, comfort from a Pillsbury chocolate chip cookie.

I have to find the strength in myself. I have to know eating when upset won't do much of anything to change the world around me.

Breaking 28 years of bad food habits isn't going to be easy. I realized that last night. But I still would like to think I've made some progress.

Because had this been a year ago, it would have been one dozen donuts. Last night, it was just one.

I need to keep making strides here because I have a feeling the next few months are going to be difficult for me and my family. And beyond that, life will always have challenges.

Food won't solve any of them.


Lourdes said...

aw ccc - i'm keeping grandpa in my prayers! congrats on not digging into more donuts - dont be upset at yourself, at least you realized it and made the decision to stop!

Sarah said...

Lots of hugs CCC. Its a tough situation to be in right now. But good for you for not letting food soothe you. Let the hugs from your family and friends help you instead. Your grandfather is in my prayers.

Sarah said...

I am so very sorry to hear about yoru grandpa's health situation. I will pray for strength and healing for you and your family.

You did make a huge leap in your progress though. It was SO scary for me the first time I had to deal with circumstances without food as my guide/friend/shoulder to cry on. It's a whole learning process and you really did well!

Once Upon A Dieter said...

Oh. Man. I know exactly what you're going through. I gained 30 lbs in 9 months when my mom went into her death spiral. Food was like an anesthetic. I think the sugar and whatnot really do something calming to the brain, and that's why we run for it.

I never knew my abuelos, but my dad was 51 when I was born, and then he died in his late 80's from prostate cancer that spread to other organs, notably his stomach.

He died, peacefully, in my house.

I hope you get to spend a lot of time with your abuelo. Even if God miraculously heals him--which would be the BEST--he's still got a lot of years in him, and that means he could go, really, at any time. Every day is super-precious.

Here's to wonderful abuelos and papis and mamis and abuelitas and all who make life better by loving us and giving of themselves for us.

Hugs and prayers,

aydin said...

ccc, you are a beautiful person. you are making great progess and I applaude you for finding that will power to stop. It's not easy and having this situation w/your abuelo is def. a test of that power. Hang in there! Sending positive thoughts & prayers for your abuelo!

Melissa said...

un abrazo bien fuerte... :)