Cancer stories

Alan’s story

In 2010, I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer. It was quite a shock for me and my then fiancée (now my wife). We’d never heard of it.

I was in a lot of pain and wasn’t able to move, but my doctor put me on a combination of drugs. Within a few weeks I was feeling less pain.

Since then I’ve had a lot of treatment. I had a bone marrow transplant, with my brother as the donor, a week after my wedding. At one point I was taking 28 tablets a day.

One morning I woke up with a metallic taste in my mouth and found I couldn’t taste any food. I saw doctors, dietitians and nutritionists, but no-one could explain why I had lost my sense of taste or if it would come back. Wondering what I was going to eat became all I could think about.

I decided I’d do everything in my power to help myself. I did some research online and found that having low levels of zinc and B vitamins can cause a loss of taste and smell. A friend recommended I see a naturopath.

At my first appointment the naturopath asked me about the myeloma and my treatments. He also tested my zinc levels by giving me a spoonful of zinc solution and asking me what I could taste, which was nothing.

He suggested I take zinc and vitamin B supplements. Because I’m on a clinical trial, I checked with the nurses beforehand. They were very encouraging and said it would be okay.

After two months I started to regain my sense of taste and smell. My wife’s a great cook and I can’t wait to have some of her food. You can’t expect a quick fix – I know using the supplements will take time.

This information was last reviewed in May 2015
View who reviewed this content
View our editorial policy

Support services

Coping with cancer?
Speak to a health professional or to someone who has been there, or find a support group or forum

Looking for transport, accommodation or home help?
Practical advice and support during and after treatment

Cancer information

What is cancer?
How cancer starts and spreads

Dealing with the diagnosis
Common reactions to a cancer diagnosis and how to find hope

View our publications
Guides and fact sheets for people with cancer, their families and friends