“I got a girl named Bony Moronie. She’s as skinny as a stick of macaroni!”
“Bony Moronie” by Larry Williams was my theme song while I was sick. My partner introduced me to the great little ditty and it became my go-to song to lift my spirits. I’ve always weighed between 115 and 120 pounds. I’ve never been Bony Moronie “skinny” per se – I have the stocky farmer limbs of my Irish ancestors – but I’ve always been slim. By the time I went into surgery for my Mesothelioma, anxiety (and cancer), had caused me to start to lose weight and I was down to 110. After the grueling surgery I was fed only ice chips for ten days. ICE CHIPS people, nothing else.
One day my nurse announced cheerily that she was going to weigh me. Suddenly I found myself standing precariously on the scale, hunched over like a frail old lady. “90 pounds!” cried the nurse, with a touch of theatrical flair. Ninety Pounds. OMG. What normal 47 year-woman weighs 90 pounds?! The number horrified me. At that time I had not yet viewed myself in a full-length mirror, I had only seen my face in my makeup compact. I was not emotionally prepared for how shocking my appearance truly was.
It wasn’t until January 2015 when I saw myself naked in a large mirror. I was at the rehab hospital and tipping the scales at 96 pounds. I remember the moment I saw my whole figure for the first time, I had sort of an out of body experience. I looked at the pale, stringy haired, emaciated woman in the mirror and wondered who she was. It was very difficult and painful to accept that I was looking at my own reflection. From that moment on I mostly tried to avoid looking at myself, for I feared that I would spiral down into the depths of despair and not be able to climb back out.
One of the things that drives me bat-sh*t crazy is the expectation by many people that because I am “lucky to be alive,” I somehow don’t have the right – or it’s deemed in poor taste – for me to talk about how bad I feel about my body. As cancer survivors we are allowed to feel both tremendous gratitude for the second chance at life and simultaneously feel deep pain about the ravaging of our physical selves.
And with that, Larry Williams – take it away…