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Forcing Food

Posted 7/12/2016

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  For many of us, food is really important and central to our pleasure in life. I admit being one of those people who has a stack of cookbooks on my bedside table and starts to think at breakfast about what I want for dinner. My mother, on the other hand, often remarked: "Isn't it too bad that we can't just take a vitamin and be done with it?"

  Cancer treatment often changes all of that. Most of us going through chemotherapy experience big changes in our tastes in addition to nausea or queasiness and diminished appetite. Sometimes, when steroids are part of the chemo cocktail, we can't stop eating. That unpleasant metallic taste can be pervasive, and we may find that our favorite foods are completely unwanted and others are desirable. Lots of us revert to our childhood comfort foods; I ate a lot of egg salad while on chemo, but appreciate that sounds horrible to many people.

  Right now I am working with a lovely woman who recently had whole brain radiation for brain mets. Although she has otherwise recovered from the treatment, she finds that all food tastes terrible, and she landed in the hospital after giving up food and even water because it was so unpleasant. She is now forcing herself to eat and drink, feels better, but every swallow is difficult.

  This is all by way of introducing this terrific article by Betsy Block, a food writer:

For food writer who’s battling cancer, eating becomes hard work

My job is to eat.
For years, that made people around me jealous because, as a food writer, that
translated into writing restaurant reviews, developing recipes for steak in the
fire and cherry pie, interviewing chefs, doing a clambake by the sea with
family and friends. I feel jealous of myself as I write.
Things are different now, temporarily. Because lately, getting chemo for the
breast cancer I was diagnosed with in January, I’m no longer living to eat.
I’m eating to live.
Every cancer patient has her story about how treatment impacts her and this
radical shift in my relationship to food is part of mine. Most of us love food;
for me, this love impacted my choice of a husband (he wooed me by cooking
me swordfish), and it became a writing career: Just last year I started a small
mostly paleo baking company. I often asked my husband what we’d be
having for dinner tomorrow as we got in bed.

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