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Chemo & nutrition?

krisangelas
Posts: 7
Joined: Jul 2004

Hi everyone,

I'm again posting on behalf of my friend who was diagnosed with ovca in July. She had her debulking surgery in August, and will begin chemo in Sept. (Stage hasn't been specified, though the stats that were quoted, and the places it had spread to indicate Stage IV.)

I would greatly appreciate any perspective you all have on nutrition. She is a petite person, and is now down 10 lbs since her surgery -- when she had her port put in, there was no fat on her arm, and the surgeon had to involve the muscle.

The family has been very supportive emotionally and is ensuring that she has companionship. I'm worried about her food intake. I have been asking about how she is eating, what they are doing to supplement etc. And no one seems to be focusing on this. It's difficult not being a family member -- I'm certainly not being critical, but I'm sensing a lack of urgency in terms of getting calories in. There seems to be the feeling that once chemo begins, she will gain weight. I'm worried that if she loses any more, she may be too frail to start that process.

I'm bringing her some potato/cream soup today, and will make a smoothie (show her husband how to). Any other little high-cal tricks?

Anyone had the experience that weight is gained during chemo? She is scheduled for 6-8 rounds, every 3 weeks. I haven't been able to find out the specific drugs.

Many thanks for your thoughts.

JanQ's picture
JanQ
Posts: 238
Joined: Jan 2004

Hi sounds like she is very blessed to have a friend like you.
Nutrition is very important, especially if she is already small. I was average and did lose weight after surgery,I was staged at IIIC, didn't want to eat anything. After chemo started I gained weight, I was taking Carbo/Taxol, several people I talked to gained weight on that, and I guess the meds they gave me for nausea were really good. Make sure she takes the medicine even if she isnt feeling sick.
Any kind of cream soup would be good for weight. Peanut Butter is always a good thing for fat and protein.
Good luck and God Bless, Just let the family know shes your friend and you love her and want to help. I have a very close family but I don't know what I would have done without my friends, sometimes you can say things to them you would not say to other's so you hang in there. Let us know when there is something we could do. You will be in my prayers.

JanQ's picture
JanQ
Posts: 238
Joined: Jan 2004

Hi sounds like she is very blessed to have a friend like you.
Nutrition is very important, especially if she is already small. I was average and did lose weight after surgery,I was staged at IIIC, didn't want to eat anything. After chemo started I gained weight, I was taking Carbo/Taxol, several people I talked to gained weight on that, and I guess the meds they gave me for nausea were really good. Make sure she takes the medicine even if she isnt feeling sick.
Any kind of cream soup would be good for weight. Peanut Butter is always a source of fat and protein.
Good luck and God Bless, Just let the family know shes your friend and you love her and want to help. I have a very close family but I don't know what I would have done without my friends, sometimes you can say things to them you would not say to other's so you hang in there. Let us know when there is something we could do. You will be in my prayers.

groundeffect
Posts: 651
Joined: Mar 2003

You're being an angel! Your friend is probably going to have some really awful intestinal pain from her surgery, so I would suggest she follow her doctor's direction about stool softeners. It's a given; once the intestines are moved for anything, they'll give pain for a while. I thought I had a another serious problem when I still had strong occasional pains for a few months (and up to a year) after surgery. Avoiding gas-producing foods would be a good thing.

I didn't have a problem with weight loss, and my appetite was not affected by the chemo except for a day or two after treatment. One of my favorite treats then was a cold chocolate or coffee flavored drink, such as Starbuck's mocha frappucino. I know the new Dairy Queen Moolatte is filled with calories (that's why I'm avoiding them); maybe you could bring her one of them to try.

This probably isn't a comfort to you, but it's a common occurence to try nutritiontal therapy when you're not able to provide it yourself. My Dad had lived by himself, was struggling health and mentally, and wasn't eating well, and all my sister and I could come up with is to try to improve his nutrition. My in-laws periodically receive organic food presents from their health-concious children, who seem to be convinced the food will make them live longer.

See if you can find out if she's craving anything, or would try some of the fruits that are in season. Fruit is supposed to stimulate the appetite for other foods, and your smoothie suggestion is particularly wonderful! You're on the right track. Just make sure it's appealing both taste-wise and visually.

krisangelas
Posts: 7
Joined: Jul 2004

Groundeffect & Jan Q:

Thank you for your insight. I appreciate your honesty and candor. I'm glad to know that the weight gain after chemo may not be such a problem. Apparently, she is collecting fluid around her lungs again, and this is causing her to feel full. The medical staff says that the chemo will reduce this, and her appetite should improve.

Being involved with a non-family member (with adult children) is really hard. My own family is in the medical field; not having access to info is awful. I still don't know if the fluid around the lungs was malignant -- they haven't asked. I don't know what the new CAT scan indicated. I don't know if her sudden diabetic tendency is due to pancreatic involvement. I'm going to ask her to put in writing her permission for me to talk to her doctor.

What a fascinating comment on providing nutrition when no other help can be given. I'm definitely doing this! :-o

I'll make sure to keep the fruit idea in mind. I know she likes "fall foods".

As I have read messages from all of you going through ovca, I am repeatedly struck by how YOU end up supporting those who are trying to comfort and help you!

BonnieR's picture
BonnieR
Posts: 1549
Joined: Jan 2004

What a blessing to have an angel on earth to help one cope. You are her angel!

I lost weight after surgery and then after chemo gained way more than I lost. LOL

I would also suggest ensure malts or some type of canned protein. I know I had to sip this through a straw. Plastic utensils sometimes help with the metal taste when eating.

Hope this helps.

krisangelas
Posts: 7
Joined: Jul 2004

Thank you Bonnie. How are you?

The metal taste is one I hadn't thought of -- and I know she (and others on these boards) has had a metallic taste in her mouth over the years. I hope the weight gain kicks in for her too. She is so frail and weak, it exhausts her to talk or to be up and around.

Thanks for your kind words. :-)

mopar
Posts: 1950
Joined: May 2003

There are so many posts regarding nutrition, but it never hurts to go over it again. My personal experience with Carbo/Taxol: focus on protein, lots of water, fiber, and whatever else one is willing to eat! We always had been health conscious, so I just changed my game plan to include protein drinks (good ones, NOT Ensure or Boost), protein bars (I would break off 'tiny' bits and eat them with lots of ice water), fiber in the form of ground pysillium or good cereals, and of course, my vitamin supplements. I also continue to take mushroom extract, drink Fluorressence Tea, and I did juice for a while. Im sorry if this is too overwhelming, but you can certainly ask for more info if you'd like. This all may sound obscure to you, but I find that most people are willing to take chemo which we know destroys good cells too, but they are not willing to take other 'natural' things that won't hurt your body. So, maybe you can help your friend look into a variety of different options.

Anyway, Zilactin works great for mouth sores which can sometimes make you not want to eat. I agree on the anti-nausea medication. That worked wonders for me. Eat light on chemo days and 1 or 2 days after. Once you get over the worst part, she might feel more like eating. Right now certain foods literally turn my Mom off, so we just try to focus on what she does like and not force the rest.

My thoughts and prayers are with you. Keep us informed.

Monika

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