Another collaboration with the wonderful Becky Hawkins!
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I’ve read many fat people’s accounts of losing weight due to illness and having their friends be seemingly thrilled by the weight loss. I’ve had a vague intention of doing a cartoon about it someday. But what actually galvanized me to write this cartoon was a tweet from “Uninhibited Seagull“:
OMG this. I was very ill through last Winter. I lost about 50 lbs through being too sick to be active and at times even too sick to eat. Returning to my workplace after going through that, most reactions appreciated my weight loss more than my health.
Becky said she’d be eager to draw it, and I was glad. This is a perfect cartoon for Becky to draw, because it involves so many specific environments that have to be instantly understood by readers, and Becky is fabulous at drawing environments. (She told me she was particularly pleased with the dull and depressing hospital hallway in panel 3.)
TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON
This cartoon has four panels, plus a small additional “kicker” panel underneath the cartoon.
We see a woman seated in a doctor’s office, facing the doctor’s desk. The woman has cat’s-eye glasses and purple hair, and is quite fat. She’s holding her hands in front of her mouth, looking afraid. We’ll call her GLASSES.
On the other side of the desk, the doctor is seated, talking to Glasses. She’s displaying a plastic model showing the anatomy of the head and neck.
DOCTOR: Your cancer is treatable. But it’s going to be a hard road.
A caption at the top of the panel says ONE MONTH LATER.
Glasses is lying in a hospital bed, which has it’s head side partly raised. She’s lying on her side, facing away from her visitor, looking limp, her eyes mostly shut.
In the other side of the bed, a visitor, a balding middle-aged man wearing a green tee shirt, is holding a spoon in one hand and a container (jello, maybe?) in the other. He looks very worried.
VISITOR: Please eat something…
GLASSES: I… I don’t think I can.
A caption at the top of the panel says THREE MONTHS LATER.
Glasses, wearing a hospital gown and slippers, is walking in a dreary hospital corridor. She’s using a walker, and with one hand she’s holding a cell phone by her face, talking to someone. She looks cheerful. She’s much thinner than she was in panel 1, with bags under her eyes and her cheekbones standing out.
GLASSES: I’m not completely out of the woods yet. But they say I can go home.
A caption at the top of the panel says THE NEXT DAY.
Glasses, dressed in a blue blouse and white pants, is on the front yard of a nice-looking adobe bungalow house with a tiled roof, approaching the front door. We can see that this house is one of a row of similar houses on this block. Other than the clothes, she looks a lot like she did in panel three, and is again using a walker.
A friend is standing in the doorway, greeting her cheerfully. Glasses’ mouth is open, but she’s not speaking; she doesn’t know what to say.
FRIEND: Wow, you lost so much weight! You look great!
SMALL KICKER PANEL UNDER THE COMIC
The same friend is talking to Glasses; glasses still looks surprised.
FRIEND: Man, I wish I could get cancer!
My mother-in-law died of colon cancer. Towards the end she couldn’t bring herself to eat and just wasted away. I was working at the time for the manufacturer of a product that was supposed to be an instant meal for use in such cases. They were just introducing the product. My relatives knew this. I asked if I could get a case of it for her, but no one helped out. So I bought some and told her it was from the company. She was gone a few months later, at about age 56 ….
It took me years to get my wife to go in and get checked. She’d seen me go through the prep and knew it wasn’t fun. Finally I got her to go a few months ago and she came up clean. Thank God. It was horrible to watch what happened to her mom. My wife is still depressed about years later.
Thank you. You both nailed it.
Focusing on good luck in bad luck is better than having a all negative attitude.
I had this experience, but with crippling depression. Lost 50 lbs in 3 months. My mother kept remarking how great I looked.
Jennhi, ouch – that sounds brutal. Depression is so hard. I hope you’re feeling better these days.
Agreed, Polaris. The good luck was that the treatment for her cancer was successful enough that it allowed Glasses to return home and continue the fight. The bad luck is that she was returning home to Friend, who thinks weight loss is an automatic good, a bonus after living in pain and fear away from home, needing to be celebrated or remarked upon at all. Glasses identified what she was happy about, no negativity there. She was clearly aware of how weakened and transformed she was by the treatment she experienced firsthand. Non-sequiturs that praise cancer for its (often permanently deleterious) side effects are monstrous and evince not a positive attitude but a deplorable, unkind, selfish one that is, more over, ignorant in the extreme.
I was so pissed when a *nurse* did this to my husband.
(Not cancer, but another bad thing.)