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Chemo and Diet

Zoi29
Posts: 11
Joined: Aug 2012

Hello,

Often, people tell me to stay away from sugar and most meat products, especially red meat. I still eat grass-fed beef and organic chicken occasionally.

I am trying to have more of a vegetarian diet, however, it's just hard with all the mood swings and taste buds.

I was never into sweets before all this happened but now I am craving ice-cream like crazy. It just seems as the doctors don't really care much about the diet when it comes to cancer patients. When I was in the hospital I kept on eating pizza and sweet puddings, and all the nurses and doctors kept on saying that the balanced diet is the right way to go.

How do you feel about this?

I am confused because I do want to do everything right and get better. Unfortunately, I feel like I am driving myself crazy, because I am constantly craving foods and most of the time I don't even know what exactly I am craving. I wish I can have those chicken nuggets and fries from McDonald's.......anyone feeling like this?

Thanks

anliperez915's picture
anliperez915
Posts: 756
Joined: Sep 2011

Hi Zoi29,
I feel exactly like you!!! I just have to take care of myself, can't eat many things because of high cholesterol, diabetes and other health issues. Don't know the answer to your question but I have to agree with the docs that just eating a balanced diet is the way to go. I have read so many articles on this subject and almost all of them say the same thing...don't eat too much sugar but you don't have to abstain from it either because at the end almost everything turns into sugar. I think Sue had posted some time ago a website (not sure if it was cancercare.com) and it talked about sugar and cancer. Just do whatever feels right for you, wishing you only the best. Take care

Sincerely,
Liz

Zoi29
Posts: 11
Joined: Aug 2012

Hi Liz,

Thank you for responding.

I am not so much concerned about the weight gain as I only weight 97 lbs. I was just worried about sugar feeding the cancer. I guess since there is no research stating this we are good to eat whatever we like as long as we don't go overboard. If you want to chat send me an e-mail at zoibebe@gmail.com

jimwins's picture
jimwins
Posts: 2085
Joined: Aug 2011

Hi Zoi29,

I suspect prednisone is impacting your appetite and cravings.

During treatment and for a week after I generally avoided acidic foods
to prevent mouth irritation. If my counts were down (neutropenic), I of course
didn't eat anything that was not cooked properly. Largely due to the prednisone
I was hungry often and ate well and a lot. I ate whatever I wanted if I wasn't
neutropenic or trying to avoid acidic foods as I mentioned. This included
sweets, desserts (love pie), ice cream on occasion and I usually had a nice
steak dinner with my sister and her husband in between treatment cycles.

Some people have made comments like "sugar feeds cancer" but I did research
and I didn't find any evidence of this. Maybe some people think this because
of the sugary stuff you're given to drink before a PET scan that makes
cancer cells light up as they are metabolizing it?

I think you should eat whatever you would like to eat or you crave.
Do it within reason of course - I mean don't eat a whole bucket of fried
chicken or drink a pitcher of margaritas ;).

These are my opinions - you might want to ask your oncologist but I think
they would pretty much tell you the same. It's normal to want to do
the "right" things to help kick cancer's butt. However, if you're stressing
about it (your diet), it may be doing more harm than good.

You can always tweak your diet after you complete and recover from your treatment.
I hope you have some McNuggets and fries if that's what you want. Just don't eat
it three times a day every day ☺.

Be good to yourself and treat yourself on occasion.
You are absolutely worth it ! I'm thankful you have an appetite
and are eating.

McPrednisone Bears

Give youself a big hug and add it to the one I'm sending,

Jim
DX: DLBL 4/2011, Chemo completed 10/2011, currently in remission. :)

Zoi29
Posts: 11
Joined: Aug 2012

Hi Jim,

You are so sweet and considerate. I read your posts everyday and you are always the one to give best advice and be there for all of us. Thank you for that.

I agree, prednistone is doing this to me and as I finish taking it, my energy level goes down drastically. I have always been petite but now I am 97 lbs, (slightly less than my usual weight). This weight has been consistent since I started chemo treatments (already had 4), and I hope I won't lose any weight by the end of this. I guess I will rely on prednistone for that.

It's weird, I can eat at all times and don't feel hungry or stuffed but certain foods such as fish I can't stand. I loved fish before but now I can't even smell it.

I am dealing with a lot just by having this terrible disease at the age of 29 so I should just eat whatever I feel like. Time to treat myself...

Jim big hug back to you and thanks for tkain your time and helping all of us deal with the terrible disease.

jimwins's picture
jimwins
Posts: 2085
Joined: Aug 2011

Thank you for being so kind in saying that but I think others here deserve
that praise :). I am currently not working so I have the time to read and
post. I'm so thankful to those on this site who were there for me and I want
to give back. I'm just as scared and human as everyone here.

I often use humor and I hope it's never offensive to anyone but my thought is
sometimes just being able to smile or laugh can really take the sting out
of things or briefly unravel the twisted, knotty mess of emotions and stress
that come with this journey. I've had a tough year and a half - being diagnosed
with cancer, having surgery, going through chemo and then losing my youngest
sister just before Christmas to a brain aneurysm.

There are so many good people here and I'm thankful for every one of them.
Thank you again for the kind words and the hug - I needed them today.

I'm getting hungry too - maybe I'll go to Mickey D's in your honor ;).

Hugs backatcha,

JIm

anliperez915's picture
anliperez915
Posts: 756
Joined: Sep 2011

Hi Zoi29,
Forgot to mention this book I'm reading its called Eating Well Through Cancer by Holly Clegg & Gerald Miletello, M.D.
It has easy recipes and recommendations for people going through chemo and after treatment. Try to look for it..

Good luck,

Sincerely,
Liz

ta8631
Posts: 40
Joined: Jun 2012

i also have never liked sweets but could eat a tub of ice cream a night if i thought it wouldn't go straight to my thighs :) I have had serious cravings and most of it is stuff i never would have eaten before. I have gained about 12 lbs since starting treatment which is hard to understand because most of the time i have a really hard time eating anything at all even though i crave everything. My oncologist isn't concerned about by weight gain (i obviously am) and told me to eat appropriately and try not to over indulge. Its a hard battle but we will all manage through i guess :)

Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3's picture
Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 1217
Joined: May 2012

Ta,

As Jim mentioned above, this sounds like Prednisone at work. My sister-in-law is taking it for a non-cancerous tumor. She is about 5'5", and has gained 60 pounds !

Never having taken the drug, this is incomprehensible to me. For about a month I ate very little solid food, but drank breakfast drinks when I could. No "weight gain" for this boy at that time. I hope the cravings balance out for you,

max

Zoi29
Posts: 11
Joined: Aug 2012

Hi Ta,

We are in the same boat. I feel exactly like this, 'most of the time i have a really hard time eating anything at all even though i crave everything.' Sometimes, I just keep on trying million things and nothing satisfies me so I don't even end up having a proper meal. Luckily, it has been okay lately, may be because I stopped taking prednistone 3 days ago. If you ever want to chat send me an e-mail. ;-)

Xoxo

jimwins's picture
jimwins
Posts: 2085
Joined: Aug 2011

If you have diabetes or any other medical condition that requires
a special diet then you should follow those guidelines.

I gained a litle weight during my treatment (not much) and it
was largely due to increased appetite from the prednisone.

My real point was that you should be kind to yourself right now
and eat what you want/like (within reason) :).

I hope you didn't mind my "McHumor" ;). It's important to be able
to smile and laugh when you can. I know how hard and scary this is.
Know that you are not alone here and you can always share, vent, rant,
laugh, cry, celebrate, ask questions, and of course give and receive hugs too...

Jim

Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3's picture
Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 1217
Joined: May 2012

I could not agree more with Jim here. A person on chemo is already in a titan struggle. I did not nit-pick over what I ate, or when I ate (which was not often).

Within reason, if something tastes good to you, have at it. Similiarly, I meet and talk to so many people who are terminal and yet worry about pain meds. What is the logic of that ? Of course, no one on this thread is terminal, but the argument is similiar for anyone hurting. The doc gave me tranqualizers and Loritab, and if I needed one, it went down the hatch -- no second thoughts.

Aside: I never heard about studies concerning anti-oxidants. I probably drank 50 gallons of green tea during treatment, because it was one of the few things I could stand the taste of at the time. Also, I took anti-oxidant supplements daily. My tumors melted away like butter in a microwave, nonetheless. Perhaps I would have done better without them. I won't ever know. But, that is the value of Boards like these.

I guess the point is that chemo is a damn tough ordeal, and little things that give a moment's pleasure should not be fretted over. My opinion, at least.

max

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Zoi29
Posts: 11
Joined: Aug 2012

Hi Max,

Thank you for your advice.

I will definitely start being easier on myself. After all, I am only 97 lbs and don't want to lose any weight anyway.

I have also taken anti-oxidants during the first two chemotherapy treatments, and according to the x-ray, the tumor shrank drastically. I am still waiting for CT Scan results. After my 2nd treatment, I have stopped taking anti--oxidants because I kept on hearing that 'it could interfere with chemo' constantly. I just wanted to be on the safe side for now. I will take antioxidants when I complete all my treatments (had 4 so far).

There is too much information out there and it's just hard to concentrate on things that are crucial and relevant when it comes to cancer.

nikkig43
Posts: 73
Joined: Feb 2012

I asked my husband's oncologist about nutritional supplements during treatment. His exact words in CAPS:
He takes a multivitamin, but are there extra "cancer fighters" he should
take or anything to boost his immune system?
NO. THERE IS NO CONVINCING SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE THAT ANY OF THESE THINGS
REALLY HELP AND SEVERAL OF THEM (SELENIUM, VITAMIN E, GREEN TEA, ETC) HAVE
BEEN SHOWN IN RIGOROUS STUDIES TO ACTUALLY NULLIFY THE EFFECTS OF SOME
CHEMOTHERAPY DRUGS.  PLEASE DO NOT TAKE ANY OF THESE THINGS TILL HE IS DONE
WITH THE CHEMOTHERAPY, OR THEY MAY LOWER THE CHANCES OF CURE I QUOTED
My husband stayed away from nutritional drinks, supplements and green tea.
I also asked him about sugar. He said there is no evidence that sugar "feeds cancer".
Take care, Nikki.

jimwins's picture
jimwins
Posts: 2085
Joined: Aug 2011

Thanks Nikki.

My oncologist also told me to stay away from certain supplements
as well. She said anti-oxidants could interfere with the chemo.

Hugs and hpe you guys are doing well,

Jim

Aaron's picture
Aaron
Posts: 241
Joined: Jun 2012

I'm starting to think I'm the only one to lose weight during chemo, I'm down around 10 lbs sence I started and thats only through 3 treatments. I hope I don't lose 40 by the time it's over.

Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3's picture
Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 1217
Joined: May 2012

Aaron,

Remember that abvd is way different from chop. There is no Prednisone in what you are on. There is no "up" period on abvd. I lost 12% of my weight, and perhaps should have lost more. Most people on chemo lose significant weight, if they are not on Prednisone or something similiar.

How are you since Wednesday ?

Max

Aaron's picture
Aaron
Posts: 241
Joined: Jun 2012

I'm doing ok, I haven't got as much energy back for my "good week" as I did in my first 2 infusions but I'm getting there. I'm hoping those shots worked so I can get my treatment on time next week. The stomach is not liking me right now but other than that and some added fatigue I'm doing fine. How are you? You mentioned some possible malidays a few weeks ago but nothing sence. I hope all is well with you my friend, keep me posted :). Aaron

Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3's picture
Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 1217
Joined: May 2012

I am blessed, Aaron.

Your fatigue will get worse, most likely. I am just letting you know. When you get tired, sleep (Sounds profound, right ?)

I found very little difference between the days in my cycle, except that on infusiuon day I felt like the Michelin Man, bloated with so much fluid. The rest is just an indiscriminate blur.

I tested negative for Hep C (or any forms of Hep), and my liver enzymes seem to be returning to normal, so I dodged another bullet there. Thank you for recalling my concern.

About a week after your third or fourth infusion, they most likely will send you for a CT, to see how things are coming along. I know you are going to be fine; I just have an intuition about these things, and have never been wrong to date. I recall that at my first CT on therapy, the tumors had shrunk about 60-70 %, which the doc said was fantastic, and well on schedule for CR.

Bless you guys,

max

Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3's picture
Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 1217
Joined: May 2012

I wrote a longer reply but it crashed.

I am blessed. Your fatigue will increse with additional treatments. You most likely will go for a CT after this or the next treatment to see how things are working. I have nothing but good vibes about your treatment, and I am very seldom wrong.

I tested negative for any form of Hep, and my enzymes are getting back to normal, so I dodged another bullet. I give thanks.

The neulasta is almost always very effective. Do you take En-med for nausea ? It is highly effective -- I never had nausea that I can recall.

Bless you guys,

max

po18guy
Posts: 245
Joined: Nov 2011

Cancer cells use a lot of energy in their hyper-cloning process. So, it seems to make sense that by limiting sugar intake, you can also limit cancer's ability to clone itself. Except that each normal cell in your body also uses energy to replace itself. We need a level of blood sugar, within a normal range, in order to maintain even a healthy body. If you eliminate dietary sugar completely, your liver will then begin using stored fat in its effort to maintain your blood sugar level. Once your fat runs out, it seeks other sources. Not good. No, fighting cancer requires us to eat when we can, what we can, as even less-than optimum food is better than none at all. Certainly, we can expend some effort to ensure that we are not provoking the cancer by eating food with pesticide or herbicide residues on it. While neither may cause cancer directly, they are associated with various forms of lymphoma. The bottom line is that we cannot starve the cancer without also starving the rest of our bodies.

Folks24
Posts: 104
Joined: Feb 2007

My onocologist and nurse just told me to eat anything I have a mind to. I am taking prednisone for 5 days (5 pills) after each chemo treatment and it has not made me a bit hungry or helped me gain weight. I am 5' and normally 105 lbs. I am down to 92 lbs on my 5th of 6th chemo treatment.

By the way, fast food has the most calories in it - especially Culver's if you have one. I got a calorie book to help me eat what has the most calories.

Unless your doctor has nixed it, I would eat anything that tastes good to gain the weight and calories and your mouth can handle. That is if you need to put it on like I do.
Good Luck!

Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3's picture
Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 1217
Joined: May 2012

Folks,

That is pretty much my attitude, and the attitude of the doc I had, who is part of US Oncology, which has 1,400 MDs networked together across the US.

I did a little looking at the Antioxidant issue. I found the following to be interesting. The Journal "Science Daily" (4-27-2007) ran an article cowritten ny Dr. Robert Newman (MD), Professor of Cancer Medicine at MD Anderson:

"Impact of Antioxidant Supplementation on Chemotherapeudic Efficacy..."

The study reviewed 845 scholarly studies and reviews on the subject. It concluded that persons taking antioxidants did as well or better than persons avoiding antioxidants, and that there was zero net indication that antioxidants interfer with chemotherapy efficiency.

I would say to anyone: Do what you are comfortable with, and trust your won doctor.

This is NOT a debate, just a sharing among friends. I did find this study cogent, personally, however.

Bless everyone, with or without green tea !

max

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Go_go_Gi_gi
Posts: 84
Joined: Aug 2011

Hi everyone,

I think the majority of you are correct---especially when someone is underweight or losing--eat what you can tolerate, and what you enjoy. Nutritionists are available to discuss helpful hints for diet, etc.

My hematologist/oncologist also trained at Anderson---as to supplements, stated there is no indication of positive or negative with regard to chemotherapy--; he did indicate there is some indication that additional supplements may feed the cancer as well as the rest of our body--- though like Max says, trust your doctor, (or if not get a new one)--and do what is comfortable and eat what's tasty to you!!

Bless each and every one of you and may the positive force of energy, strength, from food and the Lord be with you--

susan
(currently on Rituxan maintenance; 8 week intervals; steroid IV just prior to treatments.

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