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Chemotherapy permanently damaged young boy's ability to eat; now he can only eat garlic bread and nothing else


(NaturalNews) Billy Turner, an 11-year-old English boy, who beat cancer after a heavy dose of chemotherapy, is left with a bizarre side-effect. For the past eight years, he has eaten nothing but garlic bread. He became addicted to the Italian staple food after six months of chemotherapy to treat Hodgkin's Lymphoma, which gave him a phobia of all other foods.

His desperate mother, Louise Blackshaw, 32, is now resting her hopes on a hypnotist to help her son overcome his strange food addiction, probably triggered by the cancer treatment.

How chemotherapy can cause eating disorders

Many cancer patients experience eating disorders, as the treatment can affect cells in the throat, making it very painful to chew or swallow.

Ms. Blackshaw said: "When Billy was having his chemo, he said eating felt very strange, as the feeling of food moving down his throat felt very pronounced. The only thing that he said didn't make him feel funny was garlic bread - so that's what he ate. I was just happy he could eat something."

"But it's now eight years later and he still refuses to eat anything else."

During the therapy, he complained about eating most foods, and was only able to stomach garlic bread, as all other foods seemed to get stuck in his throat.

Chemotherapy, a traumatizing treatment

According to John Newlands, Macmillan's senior cancer nurse specialist, between half and three-quarters of people undergoing chemotherapy have changes to their taste and appetite.

"Chemotherapy destroys cells that divide quickly, such as those lining of the mouth and the tastebuds," he said.

He further notes that taste is affected by drugs. They can make food taste dull or create a metallic or bad taste in the mouth. However, for most people this usually settles down a few weeks to a few months after the treatment.

Billy was only 3-years-old when he underwent chemotherapy. For a little boy his age, treatment lasting six months can have traumatizing effects, with a severe eating disorder as a result.

A phenomenon known as anticipatory nausea and vomiting is sometimes seen after chemotherapy. It makes people feel sick every time they sense something related to their chemotherapy. And for Billy, that's just about every food, except for garlic bread.

Hypnotherapy may be the answer

Ms. Blackshaw is now resting all her hopes on hypnotherapist Felix Economakis, who specializes in helping people overcome Selective Eating Disorder (SED). In 2014, he helped to cure a 20-year-old women, who developed a fear of all foods, and had eaten chips every day since she was five. After only one session she reported improvement. Billy's mom is hopeful that her family can soon have a normal dinner too.

"All the doctors we visited just said that Billy was a fussy eater, but didn't know what else to say."

Felix Economakis explains that when SED shows itself as a phobia to food, many doctors confuse it with a natural phase in childhood, which is fussy eating. He notes that these people act as though they are just fussy eaters, but unlike picky eaters, they would rather die than eat certain foods, due to a traumatic childhood experience which resulted in them distrusting certain foods.

There are a host of problems and challenges which arise for a person who has SED, especially in the case of someone like Billy who has been struggling with it for eight years.

Their physical development may be stunted, and they can develop obsessive-compulsive tendencies and social anxiety due to their fear of food. Because their fear drives them to extreme eating patterns, people with SED often suffer from nutritional deficiencies. Especially when the focus is on something as unhealthy as garlic bread, which should only be eaten in moderation along with healthy, nutrient-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables.

"Billy has started his hypnotherapy now and we're really hopeful that it will work. He's already beaten cancer, he can beat this too."

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