Chemo on the Rocks – NYTimes.com

A bit of an offbeat take by Susan Gubar on one of the side effects of chemo, lack of pleasure from activities normally pleasurable, in relation to having a drink. While in the first month after transplant, eating was a chore and gave no pleasure (largely due to deadened sense of taste), once that went away I actually enjoyed – and continue to enjoy – food even more. As for alcohol, I never drank very much anyway, largely stopped for the first year post transplant, but now am back to having the occasional small glass of wine.

We all have our tastes and likes, and I understand the relief when she was able to enjoy a glass of wine again, just as for me, being able to walk and bike was important. A sense of normalcy returns. Quote:

A quick Web search will tell you which chemicals — and which medications prescribed along with them — will cause adverse effects when combined with alcohol. With this warning in mind, a few years ago I consulted my oncologist, who assured me that I could drink anything in moderation. The power to choose my own toxins buoyed me up in theory, but in practice some forms of chemotherapy gave me mouth sores that made drinking painful or tainted a sip with a weirdly metallic taste. Even these drawbacks might not have stopped me, were it not for another grotesque side effect, one rarely mentioned to patients and hard to describe: anhedonia, the inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable. Not all chemotherapies induce this zombie state of not-wanting, not-desiring, not-relishing, but a few do in some benighted people.

Chemo on the Rocks – NYTimes.com.

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2 thoughts on “Chemo on the Rocks – NYTimes.com

  1. This was an interesting one for me. In addition to being a person living with cancer, I’m a recovering alcoholic. One of the great fears of my oncologists was that I would relapse during chemo. For the recovering alcoholic it is not about the taste or about choosing one’s own toxin (most of us did that many years ago and the it’s more as though the toxin chose us), it’s about dealing with the stress of having cancer without that crutch that so many of us used for years to get through bad (and good) times. This of course would be disastrous for those of who cannot control our drinking. It’s not been easy but happily my doctors have been very supportive and very vigilant. Another things that has been very helpful is that everyone I learned in recovery is directly applicable to living with cancer. All the tools work for this too and I don’t know what I would have done without the community of fellow recovering alcoholics who were there to give support. Interestingly enough I find it much easier to talk to my fellow alcoholics about my cancer than my friends who are normal drinkers. These are people who have already faced a life-threatening disease and their take on things is refreshing – never over-optimistic or unrealistic – just guarded optimism, a strong sense of spirituality and a tolerant, non-judgmental attitude.

    • Thanks Victoria for sharing, and noting the commonality of tools for our various afflictions and challenges. I like your comments of the refreshing nature of people who have been through a comparable life-threatening situation, and how they bring a balanced, tolerant and realistic approach.

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