Momentum of the Omentum

You have an omentum. Yes, you do and that is not a misspelling.

Don’t feel bad. I didn’t know I had one until my sixties, when an allegedly dead thyroid sent me into researching cancer and endocrine disorders.

The omentum is described as a curtain of fat protecting the organs nestled in the abdomen. Until recently it was thought to have no other function; however, it also encapsulates nasty toxins in its folds of fat. Presumably the curtain is hooked up to something across the abdomen in order to stay up.

The triple-whammy surgery I had in 2010 for colon cancer necessitated moving the omentum aside as the surgeons dug and cut and sewed. At the time I did wonder what was used to re-hook up the curtain of fat. Crazy glue?

This time, while twiddling my thumbs waiting for the mills of diagnosis to grind out a pronouncement that could make the bread of healing rise, I took to wondering about the omentum. For about a year I had been observing humans moving into view belly first, while questions arose. Is all that belly part of the omentum? If so, how does it stay up? Can you get cancer of the omentum? And why is belly fat said to be the most dangerous kind?

I thought I heard a persistent, small inner voice claiming, “You’re carrying your death in front of you.” Like a pregnancy. Or more like a wheelbarrow, minus the wheel.

The answers to my questions were found online quite quickly. Yes, all that belly fat is omentum, and it consists of yellow fat, a substance which spells L-U-N-C-H to cancer cells. Yes, you can have cancer right in the omentum and you can bet it’s having a lovely time gorging itself. As to how the omentum stays up, it appears the omentum’s underside is a web which hooks onto various organs it is protecting. (This again raises the issue of whether crazy glue is used to hook it back up after surgery—this is the one question whose answer I haven’t found.)

Here’s the scariest part: That web is like a superhighway through the abdomen. If one organ has cancer cells, little prevents them from scooting merrily over to another organ, munching all the way, no doubt, and wreaking a little havoc in the new organ as well. Can we spell m-e-t-a-s-t-a-s-i-s?

No wonder belly fat is the most dangerous kind–it comes with its own transportation system.

I decided to lose mine, whatever toxins might come unraveled. Not easy, since the omentum caresses its yellow fat close, muttering, “My Precious…” while forcing all the other body parts to shed their fat cells first. That cute round butt I had for over six decades? Gone. The smooth wide upper arms that one of Nicaragua’s most famous poets rhapsodized over not five years ago? Shrunken. While I can spy my toes now simply by looking down, which is a novelty, I can’t yet quip, “I used to be a prominent citizen—then I lost my omentum.”

I’m not giving up on blocking traffic on that webby superhighway. I refuse to be overtaken by the momentum of my omentum—that’s no way to go.


Photo by Manilaspirit (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.


This post and others made possible with help from generous contributors to the Wellness 4 Wolffy campaign. If you enjoy this blog and want to see more posts like this one, please help support Wolffy in her quest to get well.

An image saying "Wellness 4 Wolffy" in blue text. Two wolves stand howling on either side of the text, and the number 4 rests over a paw print.

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