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Chemotherapy and Food

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I'm scheduled to undergo chemotherapy for stage 2 cancer. I would like to hear from anyone who has experience with chemo and can recommend good foods to eat before and after treatments. What nutrients should I focus on to minimize nausea, weakness, and weight loss?

Thank you.
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This may not be exactly the answer you're looking for, but whey protein was suggested to me a few years ago when I went into a health food store desperate for protein that I could actually digest. What happened was that I'd been fasting and starving so much that I couldn't chemically digest most things anymore; the store clerk didn't know the whole story, just saw me looking not-very-well and about 80 pounds, and explained that it was usually tolerated better by cancer patients than the other protein supplements. I don't think all whey protein is the same, and some are probably better than others for people who need something extra-gentle, but that would be a starting point and you can look into it further.

Do you have a nutritionist with experience working with those undergoing chemotherapy?

I hope things go well for you.
I took care of both my parents when they went through chemotherapy.  The oncologist never got into what they should eat nutrition wise...just that they should eat whatever they could handle & try not to lose too much weight. I was told that a huge weight loss was called "wasting" & is not a good thing..also hard to reverse.  With my parents it seemed like with the milder chemo drugs they could still pretty much handle most foods. When they got into the stronger drugs & "cocktails" it really kicked their butts! At that point I was feeding them anything that they would eat....meat was out as both of them complained that it "tasted funny" at that point (as well as alot of other foods).  My Dad got to the point that the only thing he really ate was crackers and fruit...which wasn't enough calories so I always kept chocolate and cookies in the house for him...which he never lost his taste for! lol  (tried Ensure but both my parents hated it & refused to drink it)

If you have problems with nausea let your Dr know...there are meds they can give you to help with it.

Weakness is almost unavoidable since the chemo will be destroying your blood cells. Your Dr will be testing your blood ALOT!

Your white blood cells will get low so you'll have to be careful about being around sick people...or even being in crowds...because you're immune system will be very weak & even a simple infection can become a major issue for a chemo patient. If you develop a fever at any point while on chemo consider it a medical emergency!  When my parents WBC count got too low they were given injections to boost it back up....sometimes chemo treatments had to be postponed until their count went up some.

If your red blood cell count drops too much you'll get really weak. They'll be testing your blood for this also. There are also injections they give you to boost your RBCs....but unfortunately it can cause bone pain for a few days. Blood transfusions are also used when your blood really needs a boost.

Bottom line...everyone reacts different to chemo...there are alot of different kinds of chemo drugs. You'll pretty much need to see how you react to it...your body will let you know what foods it can handle & which ones it can't.  Be sure to let your Dr know about any problems you develop so they can be addressed right away. Mouth sores are another problem you may encounter (which makes eating difficult)....let your Dr know right away because there are special mouth rinses they can give you.

It can be very overwhelming....try to take it a day at a time.

Whoa....way more info than you needed...sorry, I ramble at times!

Many thanks for your responses.

*huggles*- cancer treatment is worse than anything on the planet. stage 2 sounds not to bad, maybe they'll still put you on hte easy cocktails :-)! Letìs hope so. Try not to drop under a certain weight, even if it's very difficult. Not everyone suffers from the same level of nausea. If you go too far underwieght , ask your concologist for help.

My roommate has a brain tumor, and the nutritional guidelines were all about eating vegetables and basically alkalyzing in order to increase his white blood cell count.  He doesn't really follow it, and his count remains high, anyway, but he's lucky that way at least. 

Other than that, the main goal is to eat foods that you can keep down, get nutrients, and not loose to much weight.  Also, find out what chemotherapy you're on, and do some research on it.  The oncologists don't always fill you in on everything, so it's worth looking it up.  Some foods do interact with them in beneficial and not-so-beneficial ways.

sfumato - it is so true that everyone responds differently to chemo drugs. It depends on your own body, what type of drug you're on, how high a dose it is, etc. I was on chemo (pills) for awhile, and for a while got extremely nauseated. I ate hardly anything. Then the doctor eased back on the dose and restarted it later at the same higher dose and I was much better. I could eat pretty much anything. I didn't though. I tried to stick to lighter foods, like frutis, veggies, and easier to digest meats, like chicken. And not large quantities at a time. I pray for good health for you and good eating too!

My husband just finished both chemo and radiation concurrently for late stage 3 tonsillar cancer.  His treatment was considered "very aggressive." His nutritionist put him on Ensure plus - 8 cans per day - through a feeding tube since he wasn't able to swallow - at a beginning weight of 200 lbs at 6' tall.  Through the 7 weeks of treatments he lost 30 lbs due to the severe nausea.  He has gained back 10 lbs in the past 2 1/2 months on only Ensure since he is still unable to eat solid foods.

It is complete nutrition with additional protein.  When the food you eat starts to taste bad, and it will, put your trust in Ensure. 


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My step dad had chemo for testicular cancer and my aunt had chemo for a brain tumor. My aunt was about 350 and is now down to 160 becuase of the chemo. She has never gained any of her ol weight back and it has bee five years. My step dad has always been siny. 140 at 6 feet tall. but he dropped down to 125 and has stayed there eer since the chemo.

Not saying you cant avoid loosing weight on chemo but in my eperience with various members of my family having it they all lost weight. Best i can suggest is a lot of fruit lots of veggies. Anything you can handle that even looks like it might have protien. If you loe sweets and are loosing a ton of weight by all means go for them. But having and maintianing an ultra healthy diet through your chemo and treatment is important.

My step dad and aunt both never ate whole grains or any sort of healthy diet. But about a month before through treatment and six months after ate ultra healthy things. even though they both lost weight my step dad is a cancer survivor for 10 years  now and my aunt 5. They of course were both weak and sick as can be expected But i think eating healthy and haing a bunch of protien ( A lot of wey protien) by the way I thnk helped them.
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