Weight gain/Fluid retention


I'd like some advice please, here is a quick summary of my wifes diagnosis:

Spring/Summer 2018  at age 42, she was quite rapidly gaining weight and despite healthy eating and regular exercise kept getting bigger. She was diagnosed with Bowel Cancer that had spread to her ovaries (which was causing the bloated tummy and weight gain). She had extensive surgery in October 2018 to resect bowel, hysterectomy, omentum was removed and peritoneum stripped.

January to July 2019 she completed 8 rounds of Capox and in August 2019 scan and blood test showed no evidence of disease.

On completion of Chemotherapy, she began exercising again and has maintained a healthy diet, but she has found that she is gaining weight again. This is playing heavy on her mind as it so closely resembles the build up to her diagnosis. She had blood tests yesterday and we await the results.

If, as we are hoping, the blood tests show no evidence of a recurrence are there any other causes of the weight gain you might suggest? She accepts that having had significant abdominal surgery she is unlikely to get her "old" body back, but is really beating herself up over the fact that no matter how hard she seemsm to try to lose weight through diet and exercise, she continues to gain weight. She also describes the feeling as being more like Fluid rentention rather than fat. Is this a side effect of what she has been through?

Her health is obviously our main concern but this is really getting to her. She won't speak to her nurse as she is worried it will just seem like she is being vain, but I also see how much it is affecting her confidence and self esteem and I really don't know how to help her. Any help would be appreciated., thank you.

  • Hello 1978SB,

    Thank you for getting in touch and welcome to the online community. It’s natural to worry when you see your wife upset about how she is feeling at present.

    Whilst it’s nerve wracking waiting for the results you are there being a great support for her. Until she has her results then the fear of a recurrence will be very real.

    After extensive surgery with removal of the ovaries, women are plunged into a surgical menopause. It’s common to have weight gain at times with this as well as changes in mood.

    We would encourage you to ask your wife to talk with her team. They are there to support her both physically and emotionally. Diagnosis and treatment can have a huge impact on how a person views themselves and their self-worth. Sometimes they yearn for the person they were before their diagnosis or look at their body differently after surgery. Being vain isn’t a negative it allows your wife to acknowledge that her body image is important to her as she adjusts to life after treatment.

    Other support to consider is talking therapies which could offer your wife a space to talk through how she is feeling. Perhaps looking at different types of exercises to target the areas she is struggling with. The Maggie’s Centres offer lots of support , you can also check for local Macmillan Information Centres who offer further support.

    Feel free to get back in touch once your wife has her results. If it helps to chat, you and your wife could give us a call on the helpline.

    Take care

    Lorraine – Information Nurse Specialist