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New member and a question about "smelling & tasting" the hospital...

MargaritaSalsa's picture
Posts: 11
Joined: May 2013

Hi all. First an introduction. I'm a 26 year old woman in Houston. Today is my birthday and I'm sitting in chemo treatment right now (FOLFOX) at MD Anderson. I was diagnosed when I was 25, back in January, with Stage 3B colon cancer. They did the resection and found three of 71 lymph nodes were positive. So I've been put on FOLFOX for six months and today is six out of 12 treatments. I have a full time job, although I only work on my off weeks and the Monday following them, and the rest of the time I work from home a couple hours a day (or sometimes not at all, as I'd rather be sleeping!). The only way I've been able to fight through this is with the support of my wonderful boyfriend, family, and friends. Being an atheist, I don't have any faith in anything, although I just try to have hope. It's hard knowing that until sometime at the end of August, five out of every 14 days I will feel like complete crap!

Anyway, I had a question about being able to smell and taste the place (hospital) you go to for checkups and treatments! MD Anderson has a very distinct smell... and all the food tastes the same, and it just tastes like the air and makes me sick to my stomach to breathe it in and even to remember it when I'm not even here! I wanted to know if anyone else felt/feels the same way. Of course when I'm getting the infusion, I sort of taste different tastes, but even when I'm not, the thought of being here just makes me sick! I know there's a big psychological link to that. Just wondering if I'm alone in feeling like that. :)

PhillieG's picture
Posts: 4912
Joined: May 2005

Generally the food is bland and "those places" have a distinct odor. I've always had a keen sense of smell but chemo's actually enhanced it. I've spoken with a few others who've had similar experiences. Being on chemo can make food tasteless. There is a great appetite "enhancer" that's legal in a bunch of states for medicinal purposes that helps a lot...

I think you should bring a salt shaker with you


Posts: 1607
Joined: Aug 2012

Happy Birthday...welcome....sorry you are dealing with this at such a young age!  Sorry you are having chemo on your birthday, but think of it as a gift to yourself to knock out all those nasty cancer cells out so you can get on with your life!

My husband always told the nurses, doctors (anyone who would listen) that the chemo didn't make him sick, but the food they offered during treatment did!  Towards the last few treatments he wouldn't even order a banana...just the thought of anything from that place made him sick.

Enjoy the rest of your birthday!

Trubrit's picture
Posts: 5512
Joined: Jan 2013

My sense of smell has really become more acute as my FOLFOX treatments have advanced. I think its because my sense of taste has disappeared, so my sense of smell has hightened.

I am so very sorry that you are experiencing Cancer at such a young age. But, I have a good friend who was diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer at 26, She is now 32 and happily living the high life with no cancer on the horizon.  

You are young and healthy (except the cancer), and with a good diet I bet you'll do really well.

We are here for you to answer questions, give adice and know that you are part of our cancer warriors family, which means, even thought we don't know you, we love you. 

I hope after your infusions you can enjoy your birthday. 

Posts: 1170
Joined: Sep 2012

Yes, this has been an issue for my husband. He has described exactly what you describe in your post. Welcome to the group. Sorry you have to be here but especially at such a young age. Good luck to you.


annalexandria's picture
Posts: 2573
Joined: Oct 2011

Very sorry you have to join us, esp at such a young age.  I totally agree with the smell and taste issue.  Even now, two years out of tx, if I catch a whiff of "that smell", it can make me feel sick and anxious.

Some things that I tried that helped were a little vial of peppermint oil (also supposed to help with nausea-you sniff it, not drink!), and a sachet of dried flowers/herbs that smelled good.  I took both with me to infusion days.

I also chewed a lot of gum and ate mints.  That seemed to help with the taste in the mouth.  And I brought my own food most of the time.  Much better than the nasty stuff they served at the clinic.

Keep us posted on how you're doing.  Hugs~Ann Alexandria

Lorikat's picture
Posts: 682
Joined: Jul 2011

I understand!  Since chemo everything tastes different...  Carbonated drinks Taste the way gasoline smells!  I could never before quit diet coke, but haven't had anything carbonated since July 2011!  The cafeteria food doesn't taste good to me either at MDA....  But my  husband says it tastes fine to him...    Lorikat from Anal cancer board..

Trubrit's picture
Posts: 5512
Joined: Jan 2013

I have the same reactoin to carbonate drinks. 

I only used to drink one or two a month as a treat, but right now, with my compromised taste buds, it taste like... well, I don't know what it tastes like, just that it tastes bad.

Some foods I can taste, some I taste like my tounge, which has had Thrush continually for about four weeks.


Phil64's picture
Posts: 838
Joined: Apr 2012

i would ask my wife if she could smell the chemo when attached to the portable pump. She never did but I did. I also hated the smells when getting my port accessed. I would get a little wheezy during the port ritual from those smells. I kind of thought it was from an association between those smells and the chemo that followed. Kind if like a Pavlo's dog thing...  :-)

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