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.
Dr Haryana Dhillon, Research Fellow, Survivorship Research Group, Deputy Director, Centre for Medical Psychology & Evidence-based Decision-making, University of Sydney, and Chair, Clinical Oncology Society of Australia Survivorship Group, NSW; Dr Kylie Dodsworth, GP, Vice-President, Australasian Integrative Medicine Association, SA; Lauren Muir, Accredited Practising Dietitian, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Shavita Patel, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; A/Prof Evelin Tiralongo, Lecturer and Researcher in Complementary Medicine, School of Pharmacy, Griffith University, QLD; Gabrielle Toth, Consumer; Dr Xiaoshu Zhu, Director, Academic Program for Chinese Medicine, Senior Lecturer, School of Science and Health, and Researcher, National Institute of Complementary Medicine, University of Western Sydney, NSW. We thank the men and women who shared stories about their use of complementary therapies as part of their wider cancer care. We would also like to thank the health professionals and consumers who worked on the previous editions of this title, and Vivienne O’Callaghan, the original writer.
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