'My cancer diagnosis: Food' – Sean Kent

January 16, 2013 | by Roberta Nichols

One in a series of stories asking former patients to reflect upon their experience ...

We asked comedian and former Hodgkin lymphoma patient Sean Kent to look back at the time of his diagnosis, and ask himself, what do you know now that you wish you’d known then? What wisdom, soothing words or practical tips would you give your newly diagnosed self?

Sean Kent Comedian and former Hodgkin lymphoma patient Sean Kent with his wife and two daughters. (Photo courtesy of Sean Kent)

He responded with so much good advice that we're posting it in six installments.  The first installment was about guilt.

Here’s the second part, titled “Food.”

** Eat what you want!

Chemo does weird things to your mouth besides the sores. Oh, those wonderful sores …

Mainly it takes your taste buds back to childhood. So things your adult palate has come to enjoy – salmon, espresso, Thai food – the mere smell of them might make you sick.

So eat whatever the heck you want, whenever the heck you want and don’t be surprised if you find yourself with a mouthful of snickerdoodles at 4 a.m. Who cares? Cookies are good. They’re comfort food. You have cancer. You need comfort. Am I missing something? I don’t think so.

Enjoy the simple pleasures you find during your journey. They can be hard to come by.

So eat some Pringles, drink some soda, scarf some French fries with extra salt because salt is another thing you’ll be craving. And don’t worry about your sodium intake. We’ll address that once we get you well. For now,  just enjoy.

It’s vital you keep your weight up. It’s vital you stay strong. It’s vital you feel alive. The mere act of eating, of consuming food and tasting something yummy is greatly important to your sanity and to your happiness. It will give you pleasure and the act of experiencing pleasure is one of the most important things there is during this.

Pleasure brings you closer to life. It makes you want to live.

And hey, if you need to eat a pot brownie or smoke a joint to get hungry, do it. I did and it worked.

Just keep eating, keep living, keep drinking that ice-blended vanilla Frappuccino you can’t believe you’re craving for the fifth time today.

You need to stay in touch with tactile, tangible, physical pleasures throughout this mess, OK?

So what are you waiting for?


Next: The Hospital Buddy

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