The Blog

Cancer Transformed My Taste Buds. I Only Wanted Monster Munch And Yoghurt Dip

My relationship with food changed massively both during and after treatment. I experienced many different cravings, some more weird than others - my favourite being Monster Munch Flamin' Hot, with a yoghurt mint dip from the Indian takeaway.

When I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at 17, I knew I was about to embark on a treatment path that would leave me exhausted, with hair loss and ultimately with one of my ovaries being removed. But until you are living with cancer, you don't understand how the day-to-day can become so different, and how even something as basic and necessary as eating and drinking could be turned on its head.

My relationship with food changed massively both during and after treatment. I experienced many different cravings, some more weird than others - my favourite being Monster Munch Flamin' Hot, with a yoghurt mint dip from the Indian takeaway. It always had to be from the Indian takeaway. Another craving I had was eggs; I craved eggs all day every day. I can remember one time during treatment all I could think about was going home and making a cheese and bacon quiche.

But it wasn't always possible to give in to my cravings. Doctors told me I couldn't eat certain foods due to having no immune system while on chemotherapy. I wasn't allowed to have a Sunday carvery or whippy ice cream, which is all I craved during a long, hot summer on treatment. At other times, my mouth was so sore with mouth ulcers down my throat that I lived on mash potato and rice pudding. Soft foods were the only thing that didn't leave my feeling like I was eating glass.

I was lucky enough to have a CLIC Sargent social worker, who explained that these symptoms are just as much a part of a cancer diagnosis as hair loss and exhaustion - and that I would come out the other side and be able to fully enjoy food again. CLIC Sargent also gave me a grant to help with costs associated with cancer, including travel to hospital and new clothes that I needed as cancer had an impact on my weight. Before I was diagnosed, I lost a lot of weight.

But after a course of steroids, during which I was never full, I managed to gain two stone which was vital for my health. I was constantly snacking, and my family would bring me snacks to have between meals. I heard of mums getting up in the night to cook full dinners for their kids on steroids - they just leave you ravenous!

As you can see in my food dairy, I ate a lot more food at home than I did at the hospital.

Typical food intake at hospital:

Breakfast - Coco Pops & Cuppa Tea

Snacks - Biscuits

Dinner - 1 or 2 slices of pizza/ ham sandwich

Snacks - Crisps

Tea - Jacket Potato with beans and cheese

Typical food intake at home:

Breakfast - cooked breakfast or eggs (dippy or scrambled)

Snacks - biscuits

Dinner - Pasta/ Home cooked dinner/meal out

Snacks - Custard/ Rice Pudding

Tea - Home cooked dinner with family

I have now finished treatment, but some foods have still changed for me. For example, when I was in hospital having chemo I always had a drink of orange juice with my breakfast. But now I can't seem to drink it without getting a taste of chemo, which to me is a cold metal like taste in your mouth. Butter is also another food which I can't have anymore, the taste of butter makes me feel sick, so breakfast is always a slice of dry toast. Oh so fun!

In August I marked being a year cancer-free, and celebrated by joining other young people at Morrisons' test kitchen to help create some recipes for Halloween. CLIC Sargent are Morrisons' charity partner, and I was able to spend the day with four other young people who were helped by CLIC Sargent after their cancer diagnosis. It was amazing to share stories and hear from others have been through it too.

Morrisons and CLIC Sargent have teamed up on six recipe cards that land in Morrisons stores across the UK from October 9. For more information visit clicsargent.org.uk/morrisons

Before You Go