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Reversal of Ileostomy and need food help

Posts: 2
Joined: Mar 2008

Hi! And I'm glad I found you! My wife was diagnosed last April with colorectal cancer. She underwent extensive chemoradiation treatment for 1 1/2 months before having the tumor removed surgically. It was stage 2B. No sign of cancer in the nodes or the margin. Infection resulted in a colostomy, which was later taken down and exchanged for an ileostomy. That was taken down this past January. She has pretty much decided against more chemo (pending petcan this Wednesday). Her mental and physical state is wore out. She is getting frustrated and afraid to eat because of diarrhea and then constipation. Does anyone have suggestions on a regiment to follow that will allow her digestive track to get back toward normal? Thanks for everything.


StacyGleaso's picture
Posts: 1249
Joined: Mar 2003


Your wife and I share very similar stories. In 2001, I was diagnosed at age 33 with stage 4. I had chemo & radiation prior to my surgery, woke up with an ileostomy, had more chemo for 6 months, and then had the ileostomy reversed. I was very, very lucky to have had no side effects from chemo or radiation, and have been clear of cancer ever since.

I hear a lot of stories of people getting frustrated with tests, pokes, prods, treatments, and the whole "cancer experience." That is totally understandable. Tell her that she is SO close to being through this experience and that should motivate her to push herself during this last phase of getting healthy.

As far as foods, a good rule of thumb for someone who had an ileostomy reversed is to go by the bland, low ruffage, low spicy diet that she was on the last day of her hospital stay. When I had mine reversed, my doctor advised me to expect bowel changes for up to 36 months. Again, I was lucky enough to be fine from day 1. I also think the amount of food consumed is as important as what foods are consumed. Smaller meals, like 6 small ones daily rather than 3 "core" meals daily make a difference. I also think it's important to introduce a different food slowly into her diet. Too many fruits or vegetables in one sitting can totally work against her.

I am sorry to have rambled, but I hope my experience helped, even if only a little bit.

Best wishes for a terrific future,


KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

Many of us here have a favorite diet whenever our bowels act up....

BRAT....Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Tea...

As Stacy says, start bland, low bulk. And I always stay very hydrated....keeps the constipation at bay. In fact, in the 3 years since my rectum and sig colon removal, I have only had to resort to drugs (immodium, stool softener) 2 times...and that was it....

Hope this helps a bit....

Hugs, Kathi

Posts: 90
Joined: Jan 2007


I agree with the other two postings; keep things simple the first couple of months. my ileostomy reversal was in October last year and eating is a new experience each day.

Some things that didn't go well weeks ago are now ok and vice versa. Just have her be patient.

What has helped me to adjust well has been walking on a regular basis -- at least 4-5 times a week for at least 30 minutes. Early on both my surgeon and oncologist suggested it. Frankly it helped significantly with my mental outlook and getting my bowels working regularly.
Take one day at a time, because this is not easy.

between this website and the National Cancer Institute, you should be able to find quite a bit of treament information and diet information.

Lastly, keep asking your questions here, we've all been down that road and are glad to help.

be well....

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