Meet Hil Moss // Body Literacy
Meet Hil Moss - you can follow her @hilmoss
This past fall, my body felt the best it ever had. In June, I had left my round-the-clock job in NYC to travel the world prior to starting an MBA program.
By the time I arrived on campus, I had spent months away from a desk, and instead had spent my time hiking, swimming... even doing a triathlon. I was in the best shape I'd ever been in. I felt amazing.
I felt HEALTHY.
Within a matter of weeks, in the middle of a lecture, I received *the call*.
The lump I had found the week prior—the one everyone assured me I shouldn’t worry about, the one that “definitely wouldn’t be anything bad at age 28” —had been diagnosed as breast cancer.
By the next morning, I'd be back home in Boston, starting treatment at Dana Farber.
It's an ongoing journey, and one that's included everything from chemo to a failed round of fertility preservation to a DIEP flap reconstruction with an emergency complication. Never a dull moment!
Are there days when I vent and cry and curse this godforsaken diagnosis?
But in truth, I’m grateful for what it’s taught me.
It’s taught me what I’m made of.
It’s taught perspective (something tells me my Statistics exam isn’t going to seem quite so scary this Fall….)
It’s taught me what an extraordinary tribe of family & friends I have.
And it’s taught me about my BODY.
I recently became obsessed with the phrase "body literacy."
My relationship with my body has been complicated since being diagnosed: some days, I feel such anger toward it for betraying me, or discomfort with the ways that it's changed (weight gain, etc.); others (and I'm trying to make this more frequent), I couldn't love it more for all it's doing to save my life.
Regardless, I've come to know and understand it in a way that I never did before.
I hope we can start arming young women with that type of knowledge waaaaay earlier in their lives, and I'm so grateful to organizations like the Breasties for breaking down barriers and helping to do just that!
Body Image During Chemo
I want to talk about food and body image during chemo for a sec—because I’ve become really passionate about this and I think it’s really important for anyone who is or could be going through this down the line to hear.
From the minute you are diagnosed with cancer, everyone will start talking to you about nutrition: the correlation between sugar and cancer, cancer-fighting diets, etc. And this makes sense—what we put in our bodies IS one of our greatest tools in helping to fight cancer recurrence.
But chemo is a special beast. It quite literally wreaks havoc on your body from the inside out and you spend your days feeling—for lack of a better word—poisoned. And everyone reacts differently.
My taste buds changed completely. For someone who never had a sweet tooth (more of a savory type of gal), I dream about chocolate cake on a daily basis. I can only exercise sparingly because sometimes, my joints hurt so badly I literally scream from the shock of the pain.
Because of this, I’m less fit now than I’ve ever been in my entire life. This has bothered me A LOT when I look in the mirror and has taken up a lot of unnecessary brain space. But you know who hasn’t been bothered at all? MY MEDICAL TEAM! They don’t think twice about the weight I’ve put on: because they are just relieved I’ve been able to eat at all.
So, the takeaway here is: everyone is different. You’ll see people on Instagram who are able to eat clean and work out on chemo, and that’s awesome. But others will lose appetite entirely and will fight for their life while struggling to get nutrients. Others still, like me, will find a Moon Pie delectable and a salad repulsive. All are valid: whatever we need to get through.
The reason I’m sharing this now is that once chemo stops next week, my goal is to start eating clean and laying the groundwork for getting in the best shape of my life to fight this thing moving forward. But I don’t want that to erase what happened here. Let it be permanently stated here that everyone has their secret for getting through chemo, and that is 100% OK. Mine just happened to include Moon Pies.