Eating After My Cancer Treatment Was So Painful, It Felt Like I Had Strep Throat for 1 Year

After realizing that alcohol and spicy foods were excruciating to consume after treatment, throat cancer survivor Rob Paulsen learned that smoothies were a much healthier — and more soothing — option.

After being treated with chemotherapy and radiation for stage 3 squamous cell carcinoma (cancer of the throat), voice actor and CURE® Ambassador Rob Paulsen faced difficulties eating, ranging from a lack of taste to difficulty swallowing.

When both alcohol and spicy foods caused much discomfort, Paulsen realized that heading to his local smoothie shop was a much better option, where he could have high-calorie smoothies made with fruits, vegetables and yogurt. Not only would smoothies help him get the nutrients he needed, but the soft, cold liquid also felt good on his fragile throat, he explained.

“I couldn’t really taste it, but it was soothing. It was also something that felt good,” Paulsen said.

Paulsen was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, and though the road to recovery was long, he is now able to taste and enjoy eating once more and encourages others to stay hopeful.

Read more: Expert Sheds Light on Ways Patients With Cancer and Impaired Eating Function Can Approach Social Situations

Transcription:

Anything that had the least bit of spice (or) citrus, (like) orange juice lit me up. My mouth was so sensitive. Orange juice, apple juice ...

Forget booze. I've never been a big drinker. But when I started to heal, I asked my doctor, I said, “Is it OK if I have a shot of vodka?” (They said) “Sure, but remember, it's alcohol, and your mouth is pretty sensitive.” I had lots of sores inside my mouth. (My cancer treatment was) a really nasty procedure. And I hate to scare anybody, but I think it's better to know what you're in for. And the people who love you can pay attention.

I had a vodka and cranberry. Oh my god, I thought my head was going to explode. (It was the) same thing with relatively spicy Indian food. I thought, OK, well, I'm going to eat something with little spice in it, so that (I) can taste it and enjoy it. But the spice just lit me up.

So I then found Jamba Juice or Robeks. They all have different preparations with frozen yogurt and almond milk or regular milk, and maybe some fruit or some vegetables or something like that. (It was) something that I could get down. I couldn't really taste it, but it was also soothing. It was also something that felt good. Because there was a period of time that my mouth was like having strep throat for about a year. It was pretty gnarly.

But you know what, you get through it, and you figure it out. And now I'm in a position where I can at least go out and enjoy food.

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