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Breast Cancer Treatment Changed My Relationship With Food

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Megan-Claire Chase - Blogs
By Megan-Claire ChaseSeptember 30, 2021

I never realized how vital my taste buds were until I lost them during chemo. There was a long stretch where everything had a metallic or extremely sour taste. I once thought the silver lining in going through chemo would be losing weight. After all, that’s what’s always shown in the movies, right? Instead, I gained weight and was bloated due to multiple bags of steroids that flowed through the port in my chest before each bag of chemo. I became sensitive to certain food smells, too. Food was not my friend during chemo.

When I was young, I never thought about how, when, or what I should eat. I grew up fit as a child and teen. I was constantly on the go thanks to ballet classes and performing in musical theatre. In college, I was a cheerleader for basketball and took swing dance classes. Even as a young adult, I was active and took salsa and jazz classes. I could eat whatever I wanted when I wanted and burned it right off. My metabolism was high. I had tons of energy.

I’m now in a body that is covered with scars and in chronic pain. I look in the mirror now and gasp in horror at the reflection because I don’t know this body at all. It’s completely foreign to me.

Adulting is hard.

Going through breast cancer is hard.

Being medically induced into menopause is hard.

I was initially able to lose the bulk of the steroid weight from chemo my first year post-cancer because food still tasted like cardboard. I had zero cravings. I was exercising. I could see my shape again. My weight began to fluctuate once I was medically induced into menopause and developed fibromyalgia in 2017. The other culprit was my taste buds returned. And oh yes, they returned with a vengeance. Instead of eating lots of fruits and vegetables, I was craving everything sweet. The intensity somewhat scared me, and I knew I needed help to learn how to eat for the body I have now.

The past few years have been difficult, thanks to additional surgeries, trying to get my chronic pain managed, and wrapping my head around the uncomfortable menopausal symptoms. Plus, in January of this year, I fell and suffered a grade 3 sprain of my right ankle, which was a hair away from becoming a fracture. Emotional eating became my crutch. I finally broke down and met with a certified nutritionist my endocrinologist recommended earlier this year.

I highly recommend connecting with a certified nutritionist to help navigate the uncertainty of what you should and shouldn’t eat post-cancer. More importantly, I discovered how to eat for this stage of my life. It was so helpful to write a food journal (and being honest with the cravings) and dissecting it. It turns out that intermittent fasting works well for me now. I use the Fastic app to keep me on track. During my eating window, I have learned to become more intentional. Of course, I know my emotional food triggers and doing my best to not indulge in those and make better choices.

I’m relieved I finally sought professional help instead of continuing to spiral out of control. My relationship with food is different. I realize learning this new way of eating for the body I have now will take time to yield desired results, so I must extend grace with myself. And you know what? That’s OK, too.

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Photo Credit: MStudioImages / E+ via Getty Images

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About the Author
Megan-Claire Chase

Megan-Claire Chase is a 5-year breast cancer survivor in Atlanta, GA. A sought-after influencer in the cancer community, Chase shares her experiences in her blog, Life on the Cancer Train. She has written for Cancer Health magazine, SHARE Cancer Support, and Patient Power and has been featured in The New York Times and People magazine. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

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