There are few diseases that have penetrated our society as strongly as cancer. In today’s world, cancer is inevitable and rare if the person has not somehow been affected by a cancer diagnosis. Every year more than 3.5 million European citizens are diagnosed with cancer, and despite the fears this diagnosis raises, our improved understanding of cancer patients means we can now diagnose them earlier and offer them innovative treatments. Thanks to huge advances in medicine, cancer is no longer the death sentence pronounced a few decades ago.
Indeed, our progress in cancer treatment has been accompanied by the monumental efforts of men and women who have worked to develop the right policies and generate the right funds to tackle cancer. Today more than ever, cancer is on the European health agenda and the EU’s “Beating Cancer Plan” is only the latest in a series of ambitious projects in this field, which aim to propose comprehensive policies ranging from cancer prevention to survival.
In the light of the above, how is it possible that so few people are aware of dysgeusion, a condition that affects almost 50 percent of cancer patients? HungerNdThirst and its founder, Robert Greene, are dedicated to answering that question. In 2012, Robert was faced head-on with a condition he didn’t expect during his cancer treatment; he had dysgeusion, a condition that changes a person’s sense of taste.
There is a critical lack of awareness about this complex feeling that often accompanies chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Dysgeusion can seriously affect a person’s quality of life by affecting their appetite, body weight and psychological well-being. Despite working in health care and interacting with people who have had to deal with cancer themselves, Robert had little knowledge of these specific hardships and the effects it can have on daily life.
When food you once loved starts to taste dirty, food becomes a real burden….
Robert’s personal struggle led to the creation of the HungerNdThirst Foundation – an organization dedicated to raising awareness of taste changes. From product development based on scientific research to cooking workshops for cancer patients, HungerNdThirst has been dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of taste perception.
From the outset, HungerNdThirst has sought to profile itself as a credible and valuable stakeholder in the field of taste distortion and to establish itself as a reliable organization within a broader network of European and American organizations working in the field. Only recently, with anecdotal evidence that a loss of smell and taste began to be linked to a COVID-19 infection, HungerNdThirst has played an active role since the establishment of the Global Consortium for Chemosensory Research (GCCR). This multi-stakeholder initiative, covering 52 countries, conducts a global scientific study to assess the potential relationship between respiratory diseases such as COVID-19 and their effects on odour and taste.
Because changes in taste are usually resolved within months of completion of chemotherapy, it can be difficult for family, friends and even health professionals to understand exactly how isolating taste distortion can be. Dysgeusion can be a really lonely experience for cancer patients who find it difficult to describe that metallic taste in their mouths or to explain that even water can taste bad. When meals with friends and loved ones become a chore, loneliness, anorexia and depression often follow.
Cancer patients don’t need to be pampered, they need to be understood.
That’s why HungerNdThirst developed the Awareness Through Experience (ATE) Cookies®: a new and elegant way to experience taste distortion through the power of a normal cookie. ATE Cookies® are the ideal tool to draw attention to taste distortion and increase awareness of the need to address the consequences of a condition underestimated by many.
Robert and HungerNdThirst dream of a day when cancer patients no longer have to suffer taste disruption because of their cancer treatment. With so many political actors working to defeat cancer, HungerNdThirst calls on the international community to address cancer as well as taste change to provide solutions – now and in the future.
Who says no to a cookie? Tell your friends you have ATE a cookie and answer that question for them.