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Fatigue, Food after Chemo/Rad/PCI


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First of all I want to thank everyone for all your help/support over the last 8 (already?) months. I can't imagine going through this without you, as it's been very reassuring having people who can answer questions we caregivers have. I've been recommending this site to other Lung Cancer patients and care-givers I've encountered on-line.

So thank you thank you THANK YOU!

Mom finished chemo at the end of December. Finished radiation to the chest and PCI at the end of January. We knew there'd be fatigue and it seems to have set in. Blood tests show that she's low on hemoglobin so we're pushing for a blood transfusion (seems we have to push for anything but will do it cause the squeaky wheel gets greased). Blood pressure has also been low but we're working on getting that back to normal as well.

The main problem seems to be appetite. She can't stand Ensure and Carnation Instant Breaky. My suggestions to get her to hold her nose and drink it anyway have fallen on deaf ears. Any appetite she may have seems to disappear when she smells food. Tonight she was actually physically ill after sitting down to dinner. (I don't take this as a reflection of my cooking skills)

I keep telling her she's got to get some calories/nutrition into her so that her body can start generating the components needed to regain strength but it seems to be very difficult. I'd hate to see things get to the point where its either eat-or-you're-going-on-an-IV.

Does anyone have any suggestions or experienced this type of reaction to food? Tips/tricks to get things down that you really don't feel like eating?

I was joking that maybe we should get the Decadron out, but I don't think the Docs would appreciate that.

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Sorry to hear your mother is going through such a hard time right now. Have you asked the doctors about Zofran and Megace? The Zofran will keep the nausea at bay, and the Megace will increase her appetite. My mother relied on it for awhile after treatment and now she is 2 lbs over her weight when she originally got sick.

Hope this helps,


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Maybe try in a blender a bannana, or fruit of any kind she may like, mixed with milk or soy milk which comes in chocolate which is my favorite. I also had a problem with the smell of food. I could not cook or eat anything that had a strong odor. Keep it simple and small portions. Crackers and cheese always worked for me. Peanut butter too.Oh and lets not forget the power of chicken soup. Take care.

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the pci treatments effected me differently than most and have made me very fatigued, sick to my stomach....headache (if i dont take decadron)...docs say it could last until june.....

..i went through a lot of sickness because i didnt want to take steroids...but i've changed my mind about that....as soon as i went on the decadron my appetite came back (too-much) ...... i was still fatigued but otherwise alright...might wana consider the decadron....


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i could not drink ensure/carnation etc

what i ended up drinking to get neutrition was a protean drink from the vitamin store. i used MYLOPLEX its a powder i would make shakes from it with milk juce fruit yogurt stuff like that in it in a blender

i could make it any flavor i wanted and even if i only drank 1/2 of it i thought that was good. i would only use half the package as the whole package made it so thick i couldnet drink it, this was recomended to me from a body builder she said along with any solid food you can eat it will add neutrition and callories to gain weight. at the very minimum you will be drinking netrition that will help you heal you could even add it tto smoothies if you wanted

hope this helps

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It is normal for people who have been through chemo and radiation not to have an appetite for quite a while. My wife still goes through periods where she is not hungry, but at least now she knows she has to eat and is well enough to persevere. She also knows I won't let her get away with not eating.

I agree with the others that a blender is wonderful. You can make all sorts of nutritious drinks with one. You might try Breeze, which is a fruity equivalent of Ensure. Ice cream and milk shakes, yogurt, all those things are good.

Also, instead of trying three meals a day, try small meals or snacks every two-three hours. It gets them in the habit of snacking, and it helps keep the nausea down.

Good luck. Don

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Well I didn't have much luck eating when I was going through my first chemo & rad.I just couldn't stand the smell & ensure was out of the question. I couldn.t swallow due to the radiation tx to the chest (esophogus area) Sorry I don't have any suggestions. Can she swallow? How about milkshakes or fruit smoothies. Much better tasting than ensure. Good luck and get som food & fluids into her. I'll be praying for both of you.


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Hey Deruo,

Sorry to hear your Mom is having a difficult time recovering from her treatment. Appetite is often an issue - Mom was so sickened by Ensure and Carnation Instant Breakfasts that we had to give them away because she didn't want to see them anymore.

There are medications that some doctors are prepared to prescribe to help things out, but often it just takes time. No great words of wisdom here, just some good thoughts to encourage you to keep trying - your Mom will eventually feel her appetite come back.

Before I forget - My Mom suddenly got hankerings for food with lemon in it - lemon meringue pie was of interest to her because it cut the metallic taste in her mouth - she'd never wanted to eat it prior to treatment. Just a thought. I might add it goes down easy.


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I'm just into cycle two of chemo, but my second go around. I also have tumors in my liver and pancreas....so nausea and lack of appetite are much more an issue for me this time. Even when I do eat, it upsets my stomach sometimes. I've lost more weight than I did the first go around...but then I had some padding to lose this time. :roll: Still....I don't want to get too low and lose all that cushion.

I did ask my onc for something to stimulate the appetite...because I was having to force myself to get anything other than a piece of toast and banana down (in the morning)...and the rest of the day and night...well, some cheese and crackers or cottage cheese or yogurt smoothies was about it. He gave me a script for Marinol....which I'm told is about like smoking pot! :shock: Gives you the munchies. My pharmacy had to order it...so haven't take any yet....but since I started cycle 2 of chemo yesterday...the Decadron is helping my appetite already!! I may hold off till after this week of chemo, before I try the Marinol. I don't really want to gain the whole 12 lbs. I lost back in ONE WEEK~! :?

Deruo....ask your mom's onc about either the steroids or an appetite enhancer. I couldn't take the Megace because I'm on a blood thinner due to having a port put in. So my once suggested the "hippie dippie" Marinol for me. There also are lots of protein type additives that can be mixed with milk....to make a good homemade shake, if your mom can tolerate milk shakes. Cottage cheese is high i protein, too...and for those that like it, it slides down pretty easily and doesn't have the odor that cooking meat has. I know that feeling of being completely turned off by the smell of something frying or even the micro pot roast (pre cooked) my hubby discovered. I ate it one night, and it wasn't too bad. Two nights later he served it again and I almost lost my cookies just smelling it. :(

Also...as for her low hemoglobin...maybe a shot of Aranesp or Procrit?? I think mostly transfusions are for when the platelets dip really low. I've been dragging my wagon lately...but doc said I was "borderline" for needing a shot, altho my RBCs, hemoglobin AND hematocrit were all low. Platelets too! They retested.....and HGB finally hit a number where he said I could get the shot. It'll take 2-3 weeks to fully feel the effects...but it should boost Mom's energy.

Ask about one of those shots to help her anemia.....and also about someting for appetite. Hope she'll be feeling better and eating better, soon.

Now, about this Marinol and it's marijuana-like effects :wink: ....I want y'all to know that if I start showing up in Cindi's pub wearing tie-dye, strumming a guitar with a flower wreath around my bald head and flashing y'all the peace sign..............well, forgive me. It's not truly me....it's the drugs! :D:wink:

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