Chemo and Food

Food is weird. There are a whole lot of experts out there that will tell you what you should be eating even when you don’t have cancer. But then you get sick, and you get a whole lot of advice. It isn’t just cancer. It’s every illness.

I’ll tell you this. There isn’t a whole lot that’s surprising where diet is concerned. And having already attended a GI Cancer Dietician seminar, there isn’t a whole lot that’s agreed upon about diet. There’s the obvious – cut out sugar, fried foods, processed foods, and red meat. Don’t char the lean meats you do eat. Eat whole foods. Yes that’s all pretty obvious. It’s basically what a dietician or nutritionist that didn’t specialize in GI Cancer would tell a perfectly healthy person.

What caused the cancer? Why do some people get it and others don’t? Why is there a spike in people in the their 40’s with colon cancer? Why is there a decline among those in their 60’s and 70’s? There are theories. I bet the theory that just popped into your head is among them. I look forward to your nobel prize in medicine.

Over the last five years, I have noticed a declining interest in sugar. I simply lost the taste for it. Chocolate, candy, cake… It all tasted horrible. I attributed this change in tastes to age, but then I had half my colon removed. The tumor was not small. It must have been growing for most of the last five years. Suddenly everything tastes the way I remember it tasting. Chocolate is good.

Of course, I’ve also completely stopped drinking alcohol. It seems a little irresponsible to be drinking alcohol with a tumor in my liver. Perhaps the removal of alcohol from my diet created a craving for sugar. Maybe wine or beer just changed that taste enough. Beer and chocolate aren’t a good mix anyway.

My point is that there are thousands of variables in what causes illness and changes in the body. It’s a good idea to cut out sugar and alcohol anyway. So what the hell. But if I shove a piece of chocolate in my face every now and then, I’m not going to cry about it.

I read Frank Zappa’s autobiography/memoir a long time ago. Zappa died from prostate cancer. He talked about loving fried food and made it sound like he just wasn’t going to stop. Cancer be damned. In his last televised interview, Zappa was smoking cigarettes. When asked about the smoking in relation to his illness, he said, “To me a cigarette is food.” and “Tobacco is my favorite vegetable.”

I find that amusing, but not a place to make my last stand. I’m going to do the best I can with diet, and certainly I’m not going to take up smoking again. But who doesn’t struggle with diet? Who hasn’t said to themselves, “I probably shouldn’t have eaten that.” (That’s what she said – couldn’t help myself.)

Of course, once the chemo starts, you eat what you can. Who knows what you can eat? Most of the things you find through Google involve maintaining hydration, electrolytes, and body weight. I don’t get the sense that there are any hardened rules about what you can and can’t eat on chemo. You eat what you can. I’ve already lost a bunch of weight just with the surgery. I call it the colon cancer diet. I wouldn’t recommend it, but it does work.

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2 responses to “Chemo and Food”

  1. Chocolate is my favorite food group!
    I’m so proud of you for being able to express your inner thoughts instead letting it fester inside. I’ll keep reading as long as you keep writing!
    Miss you cous.

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