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What do you have to live with after chemo, radiation, and surgery? Anyone having other medical issues after surgery?

Posts: 17
Joined: Oct 2009

I feel very blessed that my Mom is still with me one year after her surgery. Since then however she has never regained any appetite and now has severe heartburn, back pain and anemia. She weighs 100 pounds on a 5'2" frame. Needless to say she looks bad and that has caused her to be a bit of a recluse. She has visited her various doctors on numerous occasions for all of these things and they have given her medications to deal with these other issues. Scans have also (thankfully) come up clean.

I am looking for suggestions regarding weight gain and if anyone has experienced any of the aforementioned problems themselves post surgery. My mother is allergic to eggs and therefore many of the protein bars and drinks out there are of no use. She does drink Ensure everyday but it is a struggle for her just to get that down. Most tastes and thoughts of food make her feel nauseous. Any advice?

Posts: 95
Joined: Dec 2010

My husband had surgery in December. He still has no appetite to speak of and can only eat a small amount at a time. Try to get your Mom to drink Boost or Ensure more than once a day until she is able to eat better. I wish I had better advice. It is a difficult surgery to recover from but there is hope as you can see on this Web site. It can be a life line. I'll keep your Mom in my prayers.

sandy1943's picture
Posts: 883
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi, I lost a lot of unexplained weight after surgery, even though my appetite did come back. She needs to force herself to eat at least 5 times a day, even if it is a few bites. I found out things I liked before, I didn't want and things I didn't eat before, were very good. I lost 98 pds and have only gained back 9, but even though I am skinney, I'm healthy. Can she eat peanut butter? Donna 70 said that helped her with weight gain.
My only problem with reflux is when I sleep without a wedge ,to keep me elivated. Does your mom sleep with a wedge?
It's so aggravating when doctors don't have the answers we need. It was frustating to me, to have the weight dropping , and none of my doctors had an explanation as to why. I was scared for a while. I'm glad to finally start gaining a little.
Hope someone has the answers for the problems,

Donna70's picture
Posts: 921
Joined: Aug 2009

So sorry your Mom is having so many problems with eating. I lost a lot of weight after my post op chemo and then was found to have permanent lung damage, my weight picked up after I was put on meds and stopped coughing so much that I threw up my food. Now I have occasional vomiting with the coughing. I did try a high calorie drink you order on the internet, it is made by the Nestle company and is lactose free and has 560 calories a can. I cannot think of the exact name but if you go on and google high calorie supplement drinks it will pop up. I used to just sip it all thru the day. And I am the famous peanut butter queen. I swear I gained the most weight with eating creamy peanut butter. Now your Mom needs to discuss the heartburn issues with her gastro dr. Is she sleeping propped up on a wedge and pillows? If I get reflux I go and sleep on a recliner almost sitting straight up. My dr gave me liquid Zantac that I take before bedtime, and I drink some Mylanta if I have been having problems. Now if you check the under 40 posting, you will see David White a young man who has had problems for about 4+ years since his surgery. He has had to keep a j tube most of the time to keep his nutrition levels up. That is about all I can tell you. I hope your Mom improves and gets some help. take care,

paul61's picture
Posts: 1266
Joined: Apr 2010


I am sorry to hear that your Mom is having diet issues post surgery. I think most of us have at least some issues post surgery and getting enough calories and back pain are common issues for people who have had Ivor Lewis surgery.

I have found that Nestle is a good source for high calorie supplements. Two items that seem to work well are:

RESOURCE BENECALORIE (his neutral-flavored liquid blends right into portions of favorite foods for more nutrition—7 grams of protein and 100% of the RDI for vitamins C and E in a tiny 1.5-oz serving.)

CARNATION INSTANT BREAKFAST LACTOSE FREE VHC (Ideal for low appetites or fluid-restricted diets, this instant breakfast includes vitamins and minerals, 560 calories and 22.5 grams of protein into every 250 mL serving.)

You can find information about these products at the web site below:


A caution about the instant breakfast. Drink it slowly over an extended period of time. Drinking it all in one setting can cause Dumping Syndrome (e.g diarrhea).

For acid reflux I have purchased an adjustable bed that allows me to sleep with my upper body elevated. The nice thing about an adjustable bed is that it allows me to elevate my legs as well so I don’t have a tendency to slide down off the incline while I am sleeping.

I also take omeprozale prior to going to bed to reduce acid reflux. I have also found eating a peeled apple about two hours prior to bedtime reduces acid reflux issues. And of course I am sure your Mom’s GI has advised against spicy foods and carbonated beverages.

Back pain (particularly in the area of the large incision if your Mom had Ivor Lewis surgery) is an issue that just has to improve with time. I am about 15 months out from IL surgery and I still have back pain when I am doing something that requires any about of effort using the muscles around my right shoulder blade. But it has improved from sharp pain to more of a feeling of pressure.

I hope this is helpful,

Best Regards,

Paul Adams
McCormick, South Carolina

DX 10/22/2009 T2N1M0 Stage IIB
12/03/2009 Ivor Lewis
2/8 through 6/14/2010 Adjuvant Chemo Cisplatin, Epirubicin, 5 FU
6/21/2010 CT Scan NED

Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here we might as well dance!

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