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Vitamins, Supplements...

BBK
Posts: 53
Joined: Apr 2003

Hi! I've posted several times before. I was dx with invasive ductal carcinoma, had a mastectomy in Jan. with immediate tram flap reconstruction. Went through 4 rounds of AC chemo from March to May. In July, I will start tamoxifen, as my bc was estrogen positive. The plan is the standard 5 years on Tamoxifen. Question? Do any of you in similar circumstances take any vitamins, other supplements, or have made radical changes in your diet since being dx with bc? And, what about soy? About a year before my dx, I had changed to a nearly vegetarian diet (with some chicken and fish). I lost 35 pounds because of that. I'd like to go back to that plan now that I'm recovered (my surgeons wanted me to eat more animal protein -- thus MORe chicken and fish -- I don't do beef anymore -- in order to heal better from the surgery and so forth). I understand that tamoxifen can cause weight gain...I've alrady gained back about 15 pounds that I'd lost because of the stress of the bc dx and all the treatments thus far! I don't want to gain any more back! In fact, I'd really like to lost another 50 pounds! Any advice?! Thanks. Barb

inkblot
Posts: 704
Joined: Jul 2001

Hi Barb:

Congrats on improving your diet and especially on eliminating beef!

When I began chemo, I asked my onc. about weight gain as I'd known several women who'd had bc and did gain weight. Her answer was that women who do gain weight during treatment, typically gain about 12 pounds, average. She said her experience had been that they lose it in the first year after treatment. I remained about the same throughout treatment and in the months following. I'm a lifelong ovo-lacto vegetarian and have always taken taken a good vitamin/mineral supplement. After dx, I added CoQ10, green tea and acidophilus w/colostrum. The latter is great for strenghtening the immune system. Twin Labs makes a great daily viatmin, packed with minerals, which I take. Solgar also makes great products. These manufacturers boast no fillers, no wheat, fish, corn, etc. so this is great for people allergic or sensitive to those common supplement fillers. Another benefit is that most of their supplements are in a simple gel capsule which nets better absorption by the body. They cost a bit more but I find they're worth it.

Soy is generally a no-no for us, post bc. It has some weak estrogenic compounds and oncologists typically advise us to avoid anything and everything with these properties, including the "phytoestrogens" contained in many plant derived preparations. I'd suggest getting your doctor's and/or nutritionists opinion about soy products before adding them to your diet.

Re your weight gain. I'm wondering if some of it could be fluid retention? I experienced some mild swelling of my hands and feet during chemo and for a month or so after but it went away of it's own accord. In an effort to stay well hydrated during treatment, we sometimes indulge in sugary, empty caloric drinks and it becomes a habit we continue after treatment ends. Such drinks, soda and the like, can certainly put pounds on us over time. Diet versions aren't really the best healthy choice either as most contain aspartame, which is a very controversial artificial sweetner, at best, and has been named in causing a long list of ailments in people consuming it. Again,so much of what we are exposed to in our increasingly unhealthy environment and our foods, have carcinogenic properties, and sometimes, even scrutinizing lables ad nauseaum, doesn't help.

Am wondering if you have a regular exercise routine? I found that to be a very important part of my recovery. It creates a lot of great bio/chem reactions within our bodies as well as burning those extra calories and helps keep us well oiled and running a bit more smoothly.

Just my two cents worth of suggestions and ideas. Hope some of it helps. I have never advocated consuming huge amounts of supplements, with the thinking that if a little is good, then a lot more is better. Actually, some supplements can be harmful if taken in large quantities, while others are virtually worthless to us, if not taken w/companion elements, which aid absorption and distribution. It's a very interesting subject and of course, the field is wide open and one can find all manner of strange and unusual benefits attached to certain supplemnts. I'd advise seeing a nutritionist. He/she can do a full blood work up, dietary assessment, etc., and help you determine what your body is lacking and advise you wisely and safely on supplements, as well as healthy, balanced eating. If a hospital near you has a physician referral service, you may get lucky and find an MD who is also a nutritionist, through them. The best of both worlds!

Good luck and continued good health!

Love, light and laughter,
Ink

BBK
Posts: 53
Joined: Apr 2003

Thanks, Ink, for your suggestions. As to my exercise regimen...up until this week, I've been sluggish and VERY tired and haven't felt much like pushing myself physically. But, I am now walking about a half mile every morning, and about another half mile throughout the day. I'll increase this as my stamina returns. I'm also a swimmer, and once the ice melts around southern Maine, I'll be back in the water. My plastic surgeon says this will increase my range of motion following tram flap surgery, so I'm looking forward to that! Hopefully, I'll be back on track by the end of the summer!

I'm still open to the suggestions of others who have "been there, done that!" Thanks! Barb

inkblot
Posts: 704
Joined: Jul 2001

Barb:

Just wondering if you've considered Yoga? It helped me tremendously and my range of motion improved dramatically after surgery. It's very gentle and one doesn't need a lot of stamina, particularly to do the beginners routines. Can serve a really good purpose. Just a thought.

Love, light and laughter,
Ink

ksfc
Posts: 252
Joined: Apr 2002

I take vitamin E to help with hot flashes a calcium supplement and also attempt to drink green tea on a regular basis. I do avoid most soy. I'm with you on wanting to lose weight. It's so hard! I had lost some before bc, but it's been hard since that to keep it off or to lose any more. Diane

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