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Book review of Feel to Heal: 11 Things I Wish I knew About Breast Cancer & Screening by Messy & Crazy Mo

As Andre Gide has put it brilliantly, “Loving yourself isn’t vanity; it’s sanity.” Yes, in spite of several obstacles, even if they are life-threatening, we have got to be strong and love ourselves, move on, and most importantly, love and celebrate our lives. You never know when life might decide to throw a curve ball. Feel to Heal by Messy & Crazy Mo is a heartfelt account, not only highlighting her struggles with Breast cancer but life as a whole sans her so-called touted“ less than normal” appearance and her fight to overcome this backward mindset of society and fight the demons of her own fears towards them.

We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up or fight like hell.

Lance Armstrong

Do you know the opening lines in the prologue of a book I read recently that shook me to the core of my soul? 

Cancer is so limited. It cannot cripple love, shatter hope, corrode faith, destroy peace, kill friendship, suppress memories, silence courage, or invade the soul. It cannot steal eternal life. It cannot conquer the spirit.

Yes, there are several nonfiction books out there that tell the stories of survivors who have fought and sailed through a “melange” of problems and challenges. And yet, there are a few of them that really have the potential to bring about a life-altering change—a shift in individual as well as societal mindsets.

Feel to Heal: 11 Things I Wish I Knew about Breast Cancer and Screening by Mohana Gupta is not simply a biography of her trysts, her survival, and her eventual success in defeating cancer; it feels more like a candid place, where she has splayed the emotions she felt throughout the rollercoaster of battling cancer. A heartfelt account, this is possibly the first time I have read a non-fiction book of this sort in a single sitting, and boy, I have to say that it left me awestruck, speechless, inspired, and motivated beyond my wildest imagination. 

Yes, I loved that spirit with which Mo exuded “survival for the fittest,” which we all apply when faced with any kind of crisis in life, physical, mental, or otherwise. Instead of dwelling on and elucidating the ill effects of the disease, Mo has chosen to give the actual “solution,” aka the manner in which she approached the scenario heads-on, battling the elephant in the room with full gusto. As I like to refer to this mentality as “taking the war right into the enemy camp,” there is 0% self-pity, 500% positivity, and an infinite sense of acceptance, which I believe makes her journey so remarkable and awe-inspiring. 

Highlighting various prerogatives, she has meticulously outlined each and every facet, solving every single bottleneck a cancer patient actually faces. For us, it may be a simple, straight, and daunting process—chemotherapy, radiation, medication, hospitalisation, surgery, etc. But guys, the kind of mental, physical, psychological, and other multiple traumas involved are way beyond imagination. Mo’s narrative actually made me privy to so many simple yet relevant aspects that I was actually surprised at myself for not having thought about them before. For example, she shared a fellow survivor’s concerns about having fought the disease but “losing” her relationship to the unfortunate new normal, which consisted of having a “barely-there sex life” due to breast removal, which was a stark eye opener. Well, are we humans fashioned that way to only love and appreciate the physical? It was pretty daunting to read through it, even though I realised the majority of them out there are like that. In retrospect, it seemed as if I, and most of society, were in the habit of never calling the blind “blind.” And yet, when the time comes, don’t we all surreptitiously ignore them and put them at the back, choosing to only show “so-called” empathy while in reality marking them out and chastising them, singling them out from “normal”? Well, same mentality here.

Coming back to this one, well, brownie points from my side to Mo for narrating her entire experience so seamlessly. I call it seamless and yet am aware it has been “herculean infinito” for her. And I cannot help but compliment her again on how she has gotten to this point and discussed those aspects of the entire process pre- and post-treatment that touch upon the patient’s emotional as well as overall well-being. We may have entered the twenty-first century, but acceptance of us as a race remains redundant, almost orthodox. That is possibly why silicon implants are an almost welcome technological advancement, but the mindset still stays backward, depending on mere physical attributes to be able to express love and intimacy.

What really won my heart in this narrative was the flow of a positive, continuous “strive” and survival of the fittest attitude Mo has harboured throughout. Rather than choosing to succumb to her challenge, this woman has actually fought and overcome the beast, setting a brilliant example for others in the process and also being candid enough to share it unfiltered. You may rarely find a write-up or narrative that even discusses a cancer survivor’s sexual challenges and post-surgery sexual life and wellness. And here is Mo, discussing all of it in a matter-of-fact but hands-on way, raking away those awkward touches and cruising you through them effortlessly, making you see life for what it truly is—unpredictable, complicated, and yet special in its own way.

A brilliant story, go get this one if you want a candid look at what it takes to live, to be a survivor. And yes, I want to add here, Mohana, that I love your writing and your frank revelations. I love the way you’ve elucidated and expressed yourself; I just wanted to tell you that I love everything you wrote, girl!

Fight away, my warrior…

Feel to Heal

Neelam Sharma
Messy & Crazy Mo

Writing Style



So I hope you guys liked my book review of Feel to Heal: 11 Things I Wish I knew About Breast Cancer & Screening by Messy & Crazy Mo

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