A mind journey of what my tongue and mouth feels like:
You were out at a good friend’s house last night and drank too much cask red wine, take-away pizza, and sucked honey-comb for dessert – then you went to sleep without brushing your teeth – woke and forgot to brush your teeth again. You go to the bathroom to have that shower you need, hop in with a thick wad of aluminium foil and simultaneously chew it while showering: crunch, twang, crunch. Once out of the shower you brush your teeth with double strength mint toothpaste. With the toothpaste taste fresh in your mouth you go to the fridge, take some cold strawberries out and bite down on them – nice? No, in fact, it tastes like cold, fuzzy metal; aha, this is my world.
But, my mind is searching forward to that magical time when food is again a source of great pleasure.
I’ve started hungrily peering into cook books for new and yummy things to cook when my taste returns and the metal twang disappears from my mouth. My palate is bland at the moment due to my fizzing tongue and stripped throat. However, on the weekend I looked for a recipe for fresh tomato sauce and found below. It’s so simple, yet so delicious. Give it a go if you have too many tomatoes in the garden or fridge.
Roasted tomato sauce (taken from Stephanie Alexander’s the cook’s companion)
Ingredients: serves 2-4
- 8 ripe tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped (to peel tomatoes you cut long crosses on the bottom, plop them in boiled water for a while then cold water – peel skins away from crossed sections).
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 small fresh chilli, seeded but whole
- extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 180C. Place tomato, onion, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, chilli and 100ml oil into a baking dish that will hold ingredients in a 4cm thick layer. Roast for about 1 hour until tomato looks a bit scorched, onion is quite soft and there are plenty of juices. Remove chilli and discard. Taste for salt.
Add sauce to good quality fresh pasta (I added it to spinach tortellone).
I’m coming out of the ill-health haze now. My stomach appears to want food again, and my nausea is abating. I’ve attached some photos of the last chemo session. The black bag in the background is my last cytotoxic brew. The stuff attached to my chest is my portacath, which has been accessed for IV infusion (some might be interested to know what it looked like). I was fed chemo through this line.
and I’m not thinking about it at all – honest – I’m just not. Various doctors from psychiatrists to oncologists have talked about how cancer patients find finishing the chemotherapy treatment the hardest part of it. The reason for this is that the cancer kicking drugs are over and you’re faced with life post-treatment (well mine continues for five years) and a new life with the question ‘will my cancer return?’ ‘Am I cured?’ ‘Am I safe?’
No one can answer this, and I’m guessing that this is what makes finishing chemo hardest for us. I’ll let you know how I feel after my week of nausea and ill-health is over. Right now I’m good; tired, but good.
My body doesn’t digest chocolate, or it seems fried food like chips. A funny thing happened on the way down my digestive tract the other day. Ngaire (Felix’s godmother) spent a week with us for my last chemo session. She did night shifts with Felix, cooked lovely meals and was in all manners a gorgeous presence. Anyway, on the last night she shouted us take away fish and chips. I was no longer nauseous (it takes hold of me for a week now) and wanted something yummy. The fish was grilled, the chips were not that many.
Within half-an-hour of eating said yummy dinner my stomach starting rising and rising until it formed the shape of a semi-deflated football. I was alarmed, but also felt like vomiting and was in a bit of discomfort. Needless to say, it expelled itself in the bathroom – several times. Rise – expell – rise again. My entire meal went the way of the underground sewage system.
I put this down to the fact that chemo’s effects are accumulative and the fast growing cells in my stomach and other places don’t like fat getting in the way or quite simply cannot digest it any longer. I remember a cancer pamphlet saying as much. Now I know for sure.