An extreme close up of a mouth with its tongue sticking out

Taste Changes During Treatment

Last updated: September 2022

While undergoing my 6 rounds of taxol and carbo in 2020, I sincerely missed my morning cup of coffee. It tasted like sour water. Dairy tasted like paper. Bye-bye cheese and ice cream. Beef and chicken tasted like nothing. Zero flavor.

The changes lasted well into 6 months after ringing the bell. It was a drag to eat differently, and I missed the foods I loved.

My go-to food during treatment

What kept me going was my cancerous cysts were shrinking. Since I was responding well to the treatments, that motivated me to find new foods that would help keep up my strength. It took some experimenting to find my “go-to” foods during treatment.

Infused water

I most enjoyed slices of ginger and cucumber in a big pitcher of water.

Apples slices

My wife used to thinly slice an apple and squeeze some lemon juice on top to keep the apple from browning. I would dig in and eat the slices on the way home from a chemotherapy session. The slices would quench my thirst.

Fresh baked Italian bread and butter

Don’t ask me why I wanted this type of food but it really did the trick to curb my steroid stomach and I could taste the butter and bread.

Soups

I could really taste vegetable soups if made with vegetable broth. My favorite flavors were mushroom, carrot and ginger, and butternut squash.

I never went through a pregnancy, however, in some ways, it sure felt like it. The dexamethasone (steroid) I was on for 3 days after an infusion made me a voracious eater. My stomach would get me up in the middle of the night. Therefore, I was forced to find something I could taste and eat or I was miserable.

Food is a comfort when we're sick

Food is such a comfort when you’re sick. The shocker for most women is learning that the food you used to enjoy when ill, might not work for you when you’re on infusion chemotherapy. Your body is already under a tremendous amount of stress. Having to deal with taste changes causes more disappointment and frustration. The advice I have to give is to quiet your mind and ask your body what it wants to eat and drink.

Sometimes you will know right away what to eat and drink. Sometimes it will take some experimenting. Just don’t give up. You need to eat for energy so your body can fight cancer along with the drugs your oncologist has prescribed for you.

Will my sense of taste return?

And don’t worry. Your taste will come back to normal, in time. Sometimes your taste might come back to normal after 1 week from your infusion treatment. Sometimes it might take longer, like 2 weeks. Whatever happens to you, just be patient. It’s the last word cancer patients like to hear, patience.

The other thing that worked for me is I used to write down what foods I could taste really well. I started a food journal so I would remember what tasted like crap and what I could really enjoy. Brain fog is a drag, so try and write foods down right after you eat them.

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