11-Year-Old Cancer Survivor Has Eaten Nothing But Garlic Bread For 8 Years, Mom Looks To Hypnosis For Help

An 11-year-old boy, Billy Turner, survived Hodgkin’s Lymphoma as a toddler following chemotherapy treatments. Due to the chemotherapy’s effects on Billy’s throat and mouth, the child had problems eating most foods. During his treatment, the only food that Billy could stomach was garlic bread as eating it did not cause strange sensations that other foods caused in his throat. However, after his treatment, Billy’s mother Louise Blackshaw says the child continued to refuse all food except for garlic bread. As a result, Blackshaw says her son has survived on nothing but garlic bread for the last eight years. With little help from the medical community, the family is now turning to hypnosis for help battling the eating disorder.

The Daily Mail reports that Billy Turner, now 11, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the age of three. To combat the cancer, the toddler was given a series of chemotherapy treatments that left strange sensations in his mouth and throat when eating. Billy recalls how food felt “very pronounced” as it went down his throat. The only food the child remembers not causing him discomfort is garlic bread. Therefore, during his treatments, Billy ate nothing but garlic bread with his mother simply happy the child could keep down a food item.

However, following the treatments, Blackshaw says her son continued to refuse food despite the condition with his throat and mouth going away. Instead, it was revealed that the food aversion was likely due to negative memories and fear associated with other food that Billy recalls caused him problems during his treatments. As a result, Turner developed a selective eating disorder which prevents him from eating anything outside of garlic bread. Therefore, for the last eight years, the boy has eaten nothing but garlic bread.

Blackshaw says she sought help from doctors regarding the problem but was told Billy was simply a picky eater. With no help from regular doctors, psychologists and cancer charities got involved in Billy’s case and believe he suffers from a rare cancer side effect that causes Selective Eating Disorder. John Newlands, Macmillan’s senior cancer nurse specialist, points out that food aversions are not uncommon following chemotherapy treatment as it affects the taste buds and appetite of patients.

“Your tastes are affected by the drugs you received. The taste of foods are dulled or you get a metallic taste. Chemotherapy drugs are secreted into the saliva- so many patients would say they get a bad taste straight away. This usually settles down a few weeks or months after treatment.”

However, in Billy’s case, the food aversion could go deeper. Newlands says another phenomenon known as anticipatory nausea and vomiting can occur in chemo patients as something from the cancer patient’s battle with the disease triggers nausea and vomiting response. For Billy, the thought of any food besides garlic bread triggers this response. Therefore, Newlands says the food problem is psychological and a psychologist would need to help Billy overcome his food aversions.

“There is something in swallowing food that triggers the unpleasant feeling it will stick in his throat. The remedy for that would lie with a clinical psychologist. They could help unlock those feelings.”

According to the Parent Herald, though, the family has been unable to find a traditional medical solution for Billy Turner’s condition. They are hopeful that hypnosis can provide the results they desire. The family is seeking help from hypnotherapist Felix Economakis who specializes in Selective Eating Disorder. The family says Economakis has successfully helped others with the condition and that they believe he can provide some relief for Billy going forward. Billy says he hopes that one day he will be able to go to a restaurant and order food like everyone else.

“I want to be able to go to a restaurant now and actually order food like everyone else.”

Did you know that chemotherapy treatment could have bizarre side effects such as Selective Eating Disorder?

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