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For This Navy Veteran, Strength Means Facing Cancer with Courage

When Nigeria Moore was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, she vowed not to let the disease take away her happiness.

Nigeria Moore sitting in front of Tonal.

When 47-year-old Nigeria Moore was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2020, she initially didn’t believe it. The retired Naval Intelligence Specialist was incredibly active—regularly strength training on Tonal, hiking, cycling, and often doing two workouts per day. So when she started experiencing abdominal pain and fatigue, she never expected it could be cancer.

“I was in denial. I felt strong and full of life,” said Moore in an interview with Tonal. “I didn’t want to deal with it.” 

Because her mother was also ill at the time, Moore didn’t want to add to her family’s burden by telling them about her diagnosis. Her mother ultimately passed away before Moore finished her cancer treatment, which she says was the most difficult part of her journey. But it was also a push to face her disease head-on and fight. 

“The doctors promised they were going to do what they needed to do to get me through this, and I had to do my part by having a good attitude and being as positive as I could be,” she says.  “I didn’t want this beast to take over my life.” 

“I was upset and angry, but that wasn't going to get me anywhere. I made up my mind to just push forward. I had no idea what was going to happen, but I trusted the process and didn’t let this cancer take away my happiness.” - Nigeria Moore

Shifting her perspective was critical to getting Moore through her battle with cancer. “In the beginning, I wasn’t the happiest camper,” she says. “I was upset and angry, but that wasn’t going to get me anywhere. I made up my mind to just push forward. I had no idea what was going to happen, but I trusted the process and didn’t let this cancer take away my happiness.” 

Although she eventually opened up to her family, Moore faced much of her illness on her own. She lives in California while most of her family is on the East Coast, and her husband, who’s still on active duty in the Navy, was frequently deployed during the year she was sick. Moore joined a cancer support group and leaned on her faith and close friends.

During those challenging months, Moore realized the depth of her inner strength and ability to survive the unthinkable. “I’m mentally stronger than I ever thought,” she says. “I learned to persevere, and I learned that I’m resilient.” 

One of Moore’s biggest motivators along the way was her desire to get back to exercise. “Fitness is part of my identity,” she says. “I want to make sure that my quality of life is the best it can be throughout my life.” 

Nigeria Moore with her family; and posed with her Tonal.

Moore finished her cancer treatment in October 2021 (she currently has no evidence of disease) and slowly began building back her fitness. She started with walking and returned to strength training on Tonal by December. “After I got diagnosed, Tonal was very instrumental in gaining my strength back,” she adds.

After serving in the Navy for 20 years, Moore is no stranger to discipline and hard work. Despite her medical setbacks—when she spoke to Tonal in April she had recently undergone surgery unrelated to her cancer—she’s determined to rebuild her fitness. “I’m not 100 percent yet,” she says. “I’d say I’m around 65 percent of the way to where I was, but I’m looking forward to building more strength back.” 

Nigeria Moore performing a rotational chop on Tonal.

With Tonal, Moore can increase the weight she lifts one pound at a time, something she couldn’t do with dumbbells, but that’s been necessary in her gradual recovery. And although Moore says she isn’t competitive with numbers like Strength Score, she does appreciate being able to see her metrics and track her progress. “It’s a gauge to let me know what I did yesterday and what I can do today,” she says. “I love that I can see where I’ve been and where I need to be in the future.”

Moore has lots of reasons for wanting to stay healthy in the years to come. She’s expecting her first grandchild in August, and she and her husband recently bought a house in Florida where they plan to enjoy life together after he retires. Even looking back on the challenges of the last few years, Moore remains admirably optimistic. As she says, “I have no complaints about anything.” 

The information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. Individuals with pre-existing health conditions, injuries, or concerns should consult with their healthcare provider before trying a new exercise or nutrition regimen.

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