Cancer cookbook inspired by patients‘ loss of taste

A cookbook written by cancer patients who lost their sense of taste has been nominated for a global award.

The Velindre Cookbook features recipes for people whose taste buds have changed due to chemotherapy.

It also features families‘ intimate memories and shared recipes of patients.

The book has raised more than £10,000 for Velindre Cancer Care in Cardiff and is nominated for the Gourmand World Cookbook awards in China.

The book was inspired by the story of Angharad Underwood who was treated at the hospital in 2014 for breast cancer.

As well as the more commonly known effects of chemotherapy, such as hair loss and nausea, she was “shocked” when she lost her taste buds.

“The exhaustion and the real down days I was prepared for, but the taste buds really upset me because it makes you realise how important food is,” she said.

But the one flavour she could taste was from her homemade blackcurrant jam.

So Angharad set about creating recipes that included the preserve, which became a staple of her diet during radiotherapy treatment.

“There‘s a coating over your tongue and your taste buds disappear, so strong flavours are important,” she said.

“It gave me a boost. It‘s just so zingy and packed with flavour and vitamins. To me, it was just perfect.”

It took five months after finishing treatment for Angharad‘s sense of taste to fully return. Today, she is cancer free and sells pots of jam for the charity.

Her recipe – and story – is shared in the book that was created by Ceri Harris of Velindre NHS Trust.

It includes an introduction by Hollywood actor Michael Sheen and contributions from top chefs such as Michelin star winner Chris Harrod.

“Over the years when I‘ve been speaking to patients, one of the things that‘s always come up is food and the difficulty around meals,” Ceri said.

“It‘s more than just a cook book. I wanted to create a legacy of people‘s memories and food is something that brings everyone together.”

Already named the Best Family and Fundraising cookbook in Wales, it will now compete for the world title in Macau on 3 July.