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Another excerpt from my work-in-progress: “Today cancer, Tomorrow The World!”

August 4, 2012

This excerpt deal with trying to eat food during chemo, because chemo affects your taste buds.

Advice from my oncology nurse: “Don’t try to eat your favorite foods during chemo because they won’t taste good and you’ll never want to eat them again.”

When you lose comfort food, you lose comfort. I couldn’t turn to it for comfort. If I ate comfort food during chemo and it didn’t taste good, I couldn’t risk never wanting to eat it again, So I dreamed of comfort. It was a mirage that kept me going. My top one: turkey with mash potatoes and gravy. Yes, food I had every Thanksgiving. When I was a kid, I take a huge mound of potatoes and shape it into a dam then fill it with brown gravy. An unsuspecting population made of slices of turkey are on the plate around the dam, unaware of the tragedy that is going to engulf their quiet all-white community. My spoon presses down on the potatoes and breaches the dam. Hot gravy pours from the potato dam and floods the screaming turkey-slice population, drowning and burning them alive. I utter little shrieks. After this creative carnage, I swirl the potatoes and the gravy and the turkey slices into one gigantic glop, salt and eat it. I clung to the belief I’d emerge out of the chemo jungle from my firefight with cancer and return to a day where every bite was a Thanksgiving. Yes, I thought about barbecued rib-eye, a greasy rare cheeseburger, veal parmesan, the crisp taste of a chardonnay with a light touch of toasted oak, devil’s food cake, home-made chocolate chips with shiny bottoms and dipping frozen Girl Scout Chocolate Mint Cookies in milk. Then there were the staples of my Freehold-NJ childhood: chocolate-dipped ice cream cones from Jersey Freeze, Federici’s pizza, Monmouth County Peanut Brittle, and Sorrento’s submarine sandwiches. But peaches, I almost forgot about peaches! And what about peaches?  Biting and softly tearing the soft skin off a ripe peach as my front teeth gently bit down and stripped away the sweet fruit from a pitted scarlet seed and the the pulp’s sticky nectar dribbling down my chin.

I sat in the chair, unable to eat. I wasn’t home. I was somewhere else. My reduced life completely encased in a pressurized submarine of claustrophobic misery. My thoughts run silent and deep to draw strength from the depths within myself. Barrels of chemo charges quietly sink around me and detonated their side effects. The drug’s shock waves compress the delicate joints that hold together the hull of my self-contained presence. Will I be crushed? My insides twist and I groan as I bend back and forth. The deeper I dive to escape these forces, the more my desire increases to surface into the world of peaches and cheeseburgers and frozen Girl Scout Chocolate Mint Cookies again. And somehow, I believe my hunger for the future from the past comfort foods that nourished me means I’m going to taste it.

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