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Side Effects – Chemo and My Morning Coffee

Side effects – chemo and my morning coffee. 

Has cancer treatment (any sort) messed with your sense of taste? If so, it can be so frustrating, am I right?

Since beginning my chemo regimen, I’ve been experiencing the usual side effects like hair loss, neuropathy, poor sleep, flushing, achiness and the other big one – fatigue. But one side effect I never anticipated to be such a ” biggie” is the alteration of my taste buds.

I miss actually tasting my favorite foods, but I think what I miss most is the enjoyment of my freshly brewed cup of coffee each morning.

Luckily, I can still savor the aroma.

Dear Hubby makes the coffee most mornings at our house. It just seems to turn out better when he makes it. For years now, we have started each morning sipping our cups of the steaming liquid, savoring the aroma and spending a few minutes together enjoying the quietness of morning while easing into the new day.

This time of year, I enjoy watching the darkness quietly change into daylight as each new day unfolds. I look forward to seeing the towering white pines in my backyard slowly reveal themselves each morning like mysteries unfolding. At first, they are invisible, totally concealed in darkness. Then, as dawn meanders into the horizon, they become shadowy and gray. Finally, and almost unexpectedly it seems,  it’s light and there they are – standing  tall, proud and majestically in the new morning light.

I  know they are just trees, but they represent strength and stability to me these days. Things to be counted on. I need such things.

Since chemo, my morning coffee doesn’t taste quite right, and yes, I feel resentful about this unwelcome disruption to my routine.

The coffee’s flavor is somehow off, and mostly, I just feel the hotness of it. Like every cell in my body I suppose, my taste buds are altered. Food and other beverages as well taste odd, so why should I be surprised that my coffee tastes odd as well?

My taste buds seem confused, unable to distinguish between different flavors and tastes. There is no range of taste; now things just seem to either taste pleasant or not pleasant.

Even though I can’t taste my morning coffee these days, holding a familiar cup or mug with the steaming brown liquid is still comforting. Going through the motions of sharing a cup of coffee with Dear Hubby and lingering for those extra minutes still feels good.

Even chemo can’t rob me of that.

I am wondering how long it will take for my taste buds to recover when chemo ends. Such a minor worry when there are so many other far more pressing matters to face in the months and years ahead. But sometimes it’s those little things in life that seem to matter most – like enjoying a morning cup of coffee.

Thanksgiving will be here before we know it. I sure hope I get my sense of taste back by then!



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Wednesday 4th of March 2020

Hi Nancy.

I've been on chemotherapy for several years now and it's ongoing. Mine started at the base of the tongue so I got radiation treatment for that. Four months later it metastasized into my liver. Now it is also on my hip bone. They can't cure it just try to keep it at bay.

But that's not why I'm writing. I was a computer programmer before all that happened. Before I touched the computer in the morning I'd wash my cup out and pour some fresh brewed coffee. I couldn't start my day without it. I'd drink it throughout the day.

When my taste changed I no longer liked coffee. The aroma was great but the taste was terrible. One of my family members bought me a Keurig coffee maker (the type where it makes a single cup) and a bunch of different flavors including the Krispy Creme Classic which is not a flavor per se rather another type of coffee blend.

So far I've tried several flavors and I can't seem to enjoy any of them save one: Caramel Cappuccino. The only problem with that is the sweetness becomes overpowering for me after about half a cup. I normally don't put sugar in my coffee but then it tastes worse. So I've started experimenting with different measurements. I still don't have it down right.

I won't be stopping chemotherapy until I'm ready for hospice so until then coffee may be something I simply can't enjoy. Now, it's funny. I enjoy the Starbucks Frappuccino in the bottle. Maybe I need to start drinking iced coffee. It won't be the same though.



Saturday 24th of August 2019

I lost my husband to throat cancer 2 years ago, and this past June I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I started chemo treatments on the 14th of August this year. I’ve been so sick and tired for the past 2 weeks I’ve hardly been able to get out of bed. I’ve lost 7 lbs in a week, fluid. Dr has me on 6 kinds of medication to stop it, I’ve tried eating a bland diet, my mouth is raw and that makes it harder to eat. I have no taste buds, no appetite, and I’m sick of drinking water to keep hydrated. I have no desire to drink any thing. I have another chemo treatment coming up next week. I’m not interested in going through this again for another 2 weeks. I’m not the type of person that can lay around all day and night. I usually bounce right back from any kind of situation. I knew my husband was going through a lot but I didn’t realize how much he had to endure. Cancer is the worst disease anyone can have.


Monday 26th of August 2019

Martie, I'm sorry your husband died, and I'm sorry you are going through all this. Your side effects sound horrible. I hope you can find some relief. Thank you for sharing. Good luck.

Julia Barnickle

Wednesday 21st of August 2019

Loss of taste can be really upsetting, Nancy - it’s just one more “normal” thing that gets lost. As I’m living with mets, ‪I’m still on chemo, albeit mild, so my taste changes all the time. I can still enjoy sweet flavours, but savoury food tastes awful. I miss curries most!‬


Wednesday 21st of August 2019

Julia, You're right, it can be really upsetting. I'm sorry you have to deal with taste changes ongoing due to your mbc. That's gotta be hard at times. Thank you for reading and sharing.


Sunday 26th of August 2018

Hello, I've just come across this blog, thanks for starting it! I'm on a chemo protocol of Docetaxel & Cyclophosphamide for bc recurrence......4 sessions 3 weeks apart. The first week or two the taste in my mouth resembles salty rusty nails. By week 3 the taste isn't so bad but not near normal. Tomorrow is my last infusion and hoping in a couple of months that things taste normal again! In the meantime I've given up faves like coffee and most vegetables although corn on the cob is good. Not a big fruit eater but have found bananas, plums and green apples are edible as well as applesauce and lemonade. Potatoes are good as well. Funny that berries taste like salt whereas the apples, bananas and plums do not. So no strawberries for awhile. Scrambled eggs are ok. I'm not losing weight which is good, but the first 2 weeks after chemo I am constantly eating things that don't taste great just to get relief from the ugly taste in my mouth. I've found that drinking cold water from the frig helps with the aftertaste as I can't taste it as I'm drinking it, and important to keep hydrated especially cleansing the cyclophosphamide from the system. I tried the Miracle Pill with my oncologist's ok, it's a plant based supplement that customer reviews say has helped them with tasting food seemed to work better for those with no taste at all, but a couple of cancer patients said it helped them. I paid $20 for the jar of did not work for me nor my friend with Burning Mouth Syndrome, but might work for others. The reviews were on Amazon. I wish recovery in all aspects to all of you brave souls going through treatments that are so unpleasant. My thought is that it's temporary and if it allows me to live to a ripe age I'll do whatever it takes. Best wishes to all!


Monday 6th of August 2018

Just finished chemo a couple weeks ago. Have such horrible taste. I've had it for months. Even water. Have to force everything down. Nothin tasts good.Im so hungry for a good steak dinner. It's been for ever since I've had a good dr said it could be 2 mo to get taste back. I sure hope so. I was on taxol An carboplaton for uterin cancer.had my last chemo a couple weeks ago.So want my taste back.


Wednesday 8th of August 2018

Marie, Hopefully things will improve with time. A couple weeks isn't that long. My best to you, and I hope you get to enjoy that steak dinner soon.


Monday 6th of August 2018

Trying to find something I can eat or drink that tasts good. Haven't found it yet

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