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Stanley Tucci is opening up about how his cancer and radiation treatment impacted his work and life — particularly his love of food — and what he turned to during his recovery.
In a conversation with The New York Times published Saturday, the Supernova and the Devil Wears Prada star described his treatment experience, which involved wearing a specially made surgical mask and inserting a plastic bite block, with a small hole for him to breath, into his mouth. He called those treatments, which he also touches on in his upcoming book, Taste: My Life Through Food, “horrible” and said that he got vertigo, lost his appetite and developed ulcers in his mouth as a result.
Following just a week of treatment, Tucci said that everything he ate tasted like wet cardboard “slathered with someone’s excrement” and told the Times that it wasn’t death that he was afraid of during his treatment. Instead, it was losing his sense of taste.
“I mean, if you can’t eat and enjoy food, how are you going to enjoy everything else?” he said.
He revealed that he was also still recovering from those treatments while working on his Emmy-nominated CNN series Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy. He said that while he could taste everything by then, he “couldn’t necessarily swallow.” At one point, while eating steak Florentina, he “had to chew it for 10 minutes to get it down my throat.”
While there were several less than pleasant side effects, including taste and his appetite, Tucci said that there was one positive change. The actor discovered earlier in life that he was lactose intolerant and “couldn’t digest sugar well,” but says he now no longer has those issues.
As part of his recovery, the Hunger Games actor turned to cooking shows, despite the fact that “even the smell of food then would just make me want to throw up,” he recalled.
“But I liked watching them. I just wanted to learn more, live vicariously through them,” he said. “It was a way I was going to have that once again.”
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