Another reader writes:
Fat Prejudice Kills Thin Women Too
I work at a university where staff are given a membership at the school gym as one of our benefits. A few months ago I was in the weight room working out when I overheard a conversation between two of our better professors, let’s call them Sue and Nancy. Nancy told Sue that she was looking good lately, had she lost weight? Yes, said Sue! She’d been working out harder lately and had lost a lot of weight. Now, Sue’s not a fat woman by any means, so “a lot” is a relative quantity. But still, I remembered the conversation.
A couple of weeks ago the university received an email. Sue had died suddenly. I was struck by the loss of an excellent teacher and role model to our students.
It fell to the gossip network for me to learn what had happened. Sue had felt numbness in one of her arms and had gone to get it checked out. Shockingly, she was diagnosed with cancer. Some have said it was lung cancer, others have said it wasn’t. She underwent treatment, and perhaps because of the treatment experienced a severe stroke. Within a few weeks of her diagnosis she was dead at 35.
When I heard this my mind went back to that conversation in the gym. What if her weight loss wasn’t the result of diet and exercise? What if it was the first symptom of her cancer? Not knowing her closely, I have no way to know. But I wonder…
And I wonder how often weight loss, which can be a symptom of cancer and a host of other serious diseases, is ignored or welcomed! How few women of any size would see weight loss as a problem, and ask a doctor to try to find a cause? If fat is something to hate, no matter your size, to want to remove or reduce, then a person is very unlikely to see sudden weight loss negatively.
Could Sue’s cancer have been detected earlier? If it had, could she have faced a more gentle treatment that wouldn’t have killed her?
I think this is a moment to reflect that size prejudice endangers us all, no matter what size we are.