Chemotherapy has some horrendous side effects.
As well as hair loss, nausea and fatigue, youre also faced with appetite loss and a complete change in your taste buds.
This means that food you loved before may taste completely different – often bitter or tasteless – which is a complete blow for food lovers, when food was once a constant joy in your life.
Alcohol is usually a no-go for cancer patients, but in the Czech Republic, where beer is the national drink, one woman had other ideas.
Jana Drexlerova is the CEO of Prague-based Mamma Help, a breast cancer advocacy group. She underwent chemo in 2011 for breast cancer, and said everything tasted like sand.
When I finally got my appetite back, all I could eat was cold tomato soup, and even that was flavorless, she told NPR.
In 1999, Mamma Help created a pink lager to raise money for the cause, but earlier this year, they decided to make an alcohol-free beer, fortified with potassium and vitamin B – nutrients that cancer patients might otherwise miss out on when theyre off their food.
Thus, Mamma Beer was created.
I wanted the beer to boost nutrition and improve health during treatment, she says.
It was also important for me to give these women back a sense of normalcy in their lives.
Zatec, a brewery 40 miles north of Prague produced the beer, adding apple juice to combat the metallic taste that chemo patients often complain of.
The beer is said to be sweet and fruity, with a tangy finish thats halfway between a cider and a beer.
Doctors often recommended drinking beer, in moderation, to get some nutrition and vitamins, says Tereza Sverakova, a breast cancer survivor who co-produced the beer with Drexlerova, told AdWeek.
It really does help, but the taste is just so bitter! So, we thought it would be great to develop beer specifically for women undergoing chemo–beer that has all the vitamins and nutrients, but has no alcohol and is made sweeter to kill the bitterness.
A beer that would help counter this side effect of chemo and promote Mamma HELP at the same time.
While Mamma Beer is now being stocked in the US, its not yet available in the UK.
You can keep updated over at Mamma Help.
For now, if you or someone you know if going through chemo, theres a great organisation called Life Kitchen, which holds free cookery classes to teach you the best ingredients to use to make the most of your altered taste buds.