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Weight Loss

tfrost
Posts: 20
Joined: Jun 2006

Hi guys, my dad had 4 treatments of the Gemzar/Carbo now. He seems to be doing well except for the over whelming weight loss. He has lost 70lbs since first diagnosed. What is odd is that he is eating. Not enough to be gaining but certainly should not be losing. Has anyone else had experience with this? Is this normal?

kaitek
Posts: 156
Joined: Aug 2006

Hi tfrost,

My mother didn't lose that much weight, but she did lose 12 pounds since she first saw a pulmonologist for the lung lesions spotted on the X-rays. She began a little overweight technically with a BMI over 25. Her weight has stabilized to a more healthy BMI around 24.

Was your dad considered overweight before the cancer? Maybe he's not eating the same amount of calories to sustain that weight as before. If he's eating a normal 2,000 calories diet, then I wouldn't worry too much.

In fact, when my mother would lose couple of pounds I would get alarmed initially. I've finally settled on not obsessing too much on the daily up and down of her weight. As long as she stays at a healthy weight, I won't get too concerned.

Otherwise, I would ensure that your dad is getting good nutrition: all the RDA for protein, vitamins, etc. You might even consider calculating how much calories exactly your dad is consuming to be sure he is eating enough (rather than empty calories).

Weight loss is "normal" for cancer patients, but it is something you want to prevent. Feed your dad good proteins such as eggs (possibly without the yolk), seafood (such as shrimp), chicken and other poultry. And don't overlook the fruits and vegetables.

reinstones1's picture
reinstones1
Posts: 92
Joined: Feb 2006

Hi-- My Mom has lost 35 pounds since she was diagnosed in December. She is eating pretty healthily now, but there have been many days where she's been able to eat almost nothing. Sometimes I think she looks almost frail. . . I try not to focus on her weight loss so much, but rather, her attitude and outlook. :-)

cabbott
Posts: 1046
Joined: Aug 2006

Dear tfrost,
My doctor was concerned when I lost like 15 pounds--until I explained that I was trying to lose weight, which I was. I kept a food journal and was counting what came in and how much exercise I was doing. For me, weight loss to a certain extent was good for me. But cancer treatment can cause people to lose weight in bad ways too: malnutrition by not being able to eat the right foods and weight loss from too few calories or stage 4 cancer demanding too many calories. Those two are serious issues that need to be addressed. Strangely enough, keeping a food journal for a week like I did to lose weight might be the best place to start. It sounds overwhelming (what isn't when you're facing cancer), but it was cheap and provides the information a nutritionist or doctor need to correct the situation. Get a regular composition book, put the date at the top of the page. Down the left side of the page list EVERY kind of food he eats each time he eats it and right next to it list the quantity of food he ate(like a tablespoon, cup, 1/4 cup, whatever). To the far right at the end of the day (or whenever you have time) put the calories for each thing. They have the information through the internet, but I found it a lot faster by buying one of those calorie counting books from the bookstore for 7 bucks. I thought calorie counting would be a real pain, but I repeated so many foods (like a cup of skim milk three times a day or an apple several days in a row) that I could finish up in ten minutes or so at the end of the day. There are tools on the internet that will tell you exactly how many calories have to go in for you to maintain your weight. It takes 3500 calories over that to gain a pound under normal conditions. If he IS eating over the number of calories he should be to gain weight (you should know in three days to a week for sure), and he is still losing weight, see a nutritionalist that specializes in cancer treatment. (That might be a good idea even if the problem turns out to be him not eating. There are ways to make a diet for a guy on chemo more palatable. See the special cookbooks out there for ideas.) Hope this helps.

Opps, one more thing, the food journal will give the nutritionalist or doctor important information on whether your dad is getting the right nutrition to keep him healthy too. Calories aren't the only thing. Most cancer patients need a lot of protein but can't tolerate meat well. Good luck.

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