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Hunger for Love Satisfied (Tumor)

Imagine never being able to eat or drink again, not even a tiny bite of food or a sip of water. Despite massive radiation and grueling chemotherapy, the Stage IV cancer tumor at the base of my tongue came back within a year and required surgery that left me unable to swallow. The medical term for my condition is Aphagia, but to me it’s excommunication from the social celebration of “breaking bread.”

The doctors consigned me to a lifetime of bland cans of prescription nutrients put down a feeding tube directly into my stomach. For a couple who loved every type of food and reveled in Washington, D.C.’s smorgasbord of Asian, European, African, North American, South American, and Australian restaurants, this was a personal disaster. Never again would my wife and I sip wine together by candlelight while jointly exploring a menu of new and exciting dishes.

While we still venture out to restaurants, my entree is foreordained since even soups clog the feeding tube. Luckily I was never self-conscious, so the few who stare when I whip out my feeding tube and syringe in my canned nutrient don’t bother me. As it turns out, wine works very well with a feeding tube, so we can still toast each other.

But what I missed most was the celebration of our presurgery dinners at home. Sitting down with my wife to a delicious, home-cooked meal was the highlight of my evening after the stress of the day. Canned solids may be theoretically life-sustaining but are no substitute for real food.

I refused to lose the joy of sharing with my wife the food she cooked with love for us both. I turned to VitaMix’s medical discount program for help, which allowed us to afford a 5200, powerful enough to render food passable through my feeding tube.

Now my wife prepares her regular, wonderful dinners as before and sets me a plate full of colorful, healthy food. I savor the aroma, and then dump it into our VitaMix to undergo a transubstantiation of texture from solid to liquid. We sit at the dinner table and laugh like we used to after saying grace over our meal.

It’s what cancer survivors call the “new normal,” and it would not be possible without VitaMix.

 Tom Baker, Virginia