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trouble eating

Posts: 2
Joined: Jun 2001

My mom had squamous cell carcinoma that required a modified radical neck disection with removal of approx. 60 percent of her tongue followed by 30 treatments of radiation therapy which she completed 2 weeks ago. She lost some weight during her radiation but was able to maintain pretty well by drinking high calorie drinks such as "Sport Shakes" and milk. She had nausea and vomiting throughtout her treatment but it only got quite bad at the end of her treatment. It seems now that she is lactose intolerant because whenever she drinks milk or has anything dairy, she throws it back up within the hour. She has been feeling better now that she has stopped drinking milk and the sport shakes, but now she has started to lose weight very quickly since she is now not getting the high calorie drinks that she was using for most of her nutrition and her protein to help her heal. Alot of other stuff burns her tongue and throat although this seems to be just starting to get better as she has been able to eat a few more things these last few days. Does anyone have any ideas to help her get her calories in so she can stop losing weight so quickly? Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks!

Posts: 11
Joined: Oct 2000

I had a radical neck dissection as well as chemo and radiation last May. Before they would start my treatments, they insisted that I have a feeding tube put in. It is a very simple operation where they install a tube in your stomach about 2 inches above the belly button. Then there's a rubber tube that hangs from there that you can put liquid formula (or any liquids for that matter)down it. It's very simple and easy and I am sure that I would not have survived if I hadn't had it. I had trouble taking pills also, so I would crush them up and dump them down the tube. I had it for 5 months and was able to maintain my weight by using 6 cans of prescription food. (I couldn't use Ensure or boost because they also made me sick). I had it taken out in December because it's a little uncomfortable and awkward because you have to kind of coil it up like a snake and tape it to your belly when you're not using it. I probably took it out to soon because I lost weight and struggled to hold my weight for about the next month. Part of that was because they toasted my taste buds and everything tasted awful so I didn't want to eat. She can also try Gatorade orally instead of milk products. That was about the only thing I could tolerate that had lots of calories.
Nutrition is really important in her recovery so keep trying!

Posts: 16
Joined: Nov 2000

The Ensure product line may have lactose intolerant products. Health food stores should also have such items as well as pills that can be taken prior to ingesting dairy products. The burning will slowly but surely improve. Patience. Oh yeah, Campbells's Cream of Chicken soup (made w/water)was one of my mainstays. Blending your own fruit smoothies with non-aciditic fruits such as bananas, frozen peaches and canteloupe (replace milk w/water)are quite nutritious as well. Take care and good luck to your mom.

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