When going through chemotherapy, many experience what’s called “chemo mouth” or “metal mouth.” It’s when food and even water suddenly tastes different, often metallic. Lots of people end up losing weight because they dread eating. This is a concern because your body needs the best nutrition possible when undergoing something as traumatic as cancer, chemo, and radiation. One organization and a breast-cancer survivor in the Czech Republic decided to do something to help.
In 2011, Jana Drexlerova endured chemotherapy for breast cancer and didn’t enjoy any food. She is now the CEO of Mamma HELP, a nonprofit breast cancer advocacy group. Mamma HELP joined forces with Y&R Prague in 2018 to create an alcohol-free beer fortified with nutrients. Tereza Sverkova, the CCO, also had breast cancer years ago and experienced the same taste changes. Their goal was to create a beer that could help fill in nutritional gaps and that tasted good.
Why beer? The Czech Republic drinks a lot of it. One of their most famous proverbs is: “Beer is medicine.” Many doctors even recommend that cancer patients sip beer in moderation for the nutrition, but regular brews taste terrible for those going through chemo. Mamma HELP and Zatec Brewery, located in a town with a 7-century tradition of a special type of hops, created Mamma Beer in half a year. Brewed with fewer hops and diluted with apple juice, the product is described as sweet, fruity, and tangy, almost like a cider. It’s fortified with vitamin B, potassium, and more.
Customers approve. A doctor in Prague even gives out samples to her patients, while an epidemiologist going through rounds of chemo says the beer helps ease her nausea. Beer is a cultural touchstone in the Czech Republic, so for cancer patients, having a beer option that tastes good and promotes healing is invaluable.