I, like many people have battled weight issues a good part of my life. Despite what many “skinny” people will claim, it is not a “choice.” Is it something I can do something about? In my case, yes. At least I have managed to do it before, and with weight loss of almost 16 pounds since April 17th, I am making some progress again.
But this isn’t really about that fight. No, this is something that has been simmering since my Step-Father-In-Law passed away from Lung Cancer last year. It bothered me at the time, but I wasn’t completely sure why, but there was a gnawing at me about this. Mostly, I guess because I felt it was so unfair that by the time it was “discovered” he was given six-to-nine months and didn’t last that long, that I dismissed what was bothering me as just the sort of bitterness you have when you lose a loved one to illness.
Well, a couple of weeks ago, my uncle was diagnosed with Lung cancer. Fortunately, in his case, it is currently considered early enough that while the long term prognosis is not good (can it ever be?), there actually IS so far, a long term prognosis. Something, that my Step-Father-In-Law never “enjoyed.” I started rethinking it, and using “the Google” to seek some others information and similar type of incidents and stories. I probably shouldn’t be shocked in this day and age to actually find a Blog dedicated to the topic of fat prejudice in health care. This is exactly what was bothering me all this time, and a couple of delicately placed questions to my mother-in-law confirmed this.
He had complained of shortness-of-breath and several other symptoms for quite some time before his diagnosis. Every time his Primary Care Physicians “diagnosis” was that he needed to lose weight, and that then it would no longer be an issue. Symptoms overlooked, simply because, well if you are fat… that is the problem and the end of the effort by the physician (in these cases).
I would love to think that this is infrequent and isolated with a few “bad seeds,” but when you see things like, UNC-Chapel Hill: Obesity May Keep Some Women from Getting Screened for Breast, Cervical Cancer it seems clear that this is not the case, and Kate Harding has a excellent breakdown of this story and how (and why) this issue exists. (On a side note, Kate’s Shapely Prose blog is an excellent read.) There are even studies published on the Stigma and Discrimination in Weight Mangement and Obesity.
Of course, the media is not much help in this regard either. Yes, there are some articles that point properly at some causes and issues, but doing so is “too politcally correct” for some writers, and just a lifestyle choice for others. Of course even some governments get involved as well when they do something like tell a person that they are ‘too fat to adopt.’
It is like continuing to get picked on by the school yard bully for being overweight. Only the sonsequences to your health could be far more severe.