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Chemotherapy


NeroW
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When my mother was undergoing radiation for colon cancer she was also on a "cocktail" of support meds that seemed to blow out her appetite because of the chalkiness feeling left in her mouth. The lack of appetite made food less appealing and we were trying to get her to eat even more to offset any additional weight loss. My workaround was bringing over varied batches of sorbets. They were cooling, had a little bit of acidity, and had a single pronounced flavor to them. They did their job as palate cleansers and actually worked as an appetite stimulant. PM me off line and I’ll be happy to flip some recipes over to you.

I’ve always felt that the first rule of good food is to nourish and everything else comes next. That nourishment can be both physical and emotional (simply making someone feel good). Good luck with this and I hope there’s a happily ever after for all of you.

(edited for copy corr.)

Edited by marinade (log)

Jim Tarantino

Marinades, Rubs, Brines, Cures, & Glazes

Ten Speed Press

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Thank you everyone for your words. You have all brought tears to my eyes.

It is my longtime boyfriends' father who is starting treatment--he starts the first cycle at University of Michigan today. His daughter--one of my closest friends--has moved home to help out. I really appreciate the suggestion to cook for the helpers as well.

I was at his house Sunday planting vegetables with him--trenching leeks, etc. I hope to be able to pull some of those leeks out in a few months and use them in a special dish for him. He's also planted tomatoes, lettuces, garlic, corn, peppers, and herbs. He has a good attitude.

As the treatment progresses we will all have to see how his appetite changes and what he is in the mood to eat.

Thank you again for your kindness.

Noise is music. All else is food.

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It's really best to take your cues from Pop.

I've undergone voluntary poisoning at the hands of medical professionals twice -- chemo for people WITHOUT cancer! Both times were awful.

The first time I figured out that if I ate hot tamales -- the spicier the better -- before 6:00 a.m., I could keep them down. Otherwise I kept nothing solid down. DOn't ask me how I figured this out, but it worked the whole time I was on the drugs.

The second time -- which just ended in April -- there was no rhyme nor reason to what I wanted. THe drugs dulled my tastebuds a bit, so I would eat things that were highly seasoned so I felt like I was tasting something. I also liked milkshakes. But I've always liked milkshakes, so it might not have been anything to do with treatment.

If Pop is anything like me, he'll just be thrilled to death that anyone cares. Any effort, any small gesture will be greatly appreciated. He might be too ill or too unhappy to say it to you -- so I will. (I still think fondly of the kind and supportive notes I received from my fellow eGulleters!) You are doing a great thing. You and your family are in my thoughts and in my prayers.

Aidan

"Ess! Ess! It's a mitzvah!"

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  • 2 years later...

It's my turn! I'm 35 with breast cancer and 3 months pregnant to boot. I was going to post but thought I would do a search on chemo first. It was great to read all of your input. My husband doesn't really cook so it's good to hear that simple is often best. I have many friends that will help out too. My surgery is monday and then I guess chemo will begin in a month or so. It's amazing the variety of info on this site. I post on the baking forum for the most part but always enjoy the dinner thread. I will live vicariously through all your pictures until I can cook and bake again. :)

Edited by CanadianBakin' (log)

Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden

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My aunt is going through a very tough bout (second time around) with Leukemia.

My uncle, who is one of the most amazing and insparational people I know, cooks EVERY meal for her, and such, has to bring it PIPING hot to the hospital.

She always has different cravings, be it risotto, pasta, or blue popsicles (current fix)

One of the most important things is to keep everything EXTREMELY sanitary. That means - No berries, no lettuce - everything washed extremely well before cooking. Food must be HOT when served, cannot be allowed to cool off.

Other than that, its all about personal preference.

I wish EVERYONE who is battleing with this terrible disease, or knows someone who is, the very best. Be strong, and remember, a good chunk of the battle is MENTAL.

All the best.

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[...]One of the most important things is to keep everything EXTREMELY sanitary.  That means - No berries, no lettuce[...]

Exactly. No salad or raw fruits or vegetables, period. Nothing raw, as a matter of fact.

[...]Be strong, and remember, a good chunk of the battle is MENTAL.[...]

This really cannot be overemphasized. But good nutrition can certainly help.

My heart goes out to everyone undergoing chemotherapy. Fight hard.

And for those with loved ones who are fighting cancer, remember that by visiting and being positive -- and bringing food, if they want it -- you can increase the chances of their having a good recovery. Your friends and loved ones need you now, so make the time to be with them, and if you can't make it there, call them.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Wow, this is a great thread.

I just want to add a recommendation for electrolytes and especially more salt than you would normally use. If you are having trouble keeping food down and your weight and hydration up, even a can of Campbell's soup can make you feel better for a while.

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Wish I could help other than to say good luck to anyone who has to go through the treatment rounds, but since I fed through a tube for nine months or so as I couldn't eat by mouth at all when I was going through my own, taste wasn't really all that big an issue for me. I will say that overly strong food smells would make me ill in a violent way that the antinausea drugs couldn't touch, so be aware that your loved one might react poorly to things like that (and that ventilation is a good thing indeed).

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Having gone through this with a close family member for the last year, the best I can say is: it depends. It depends on their reaction to the drugs and the stage of the cancer. My brother sailed through his first round of extremely intensive chemo and ate anything I would bring him, the higher in fat the better. The second round of chemo, he lost his appetite completely and I was happy if I could get a can or two of Ensure into him everyday. Recently he underwent radiation therapy and while he was ravenous, the therapy induced severe heartburn, so all foods had to be really really bland and soft. I'd say if your patient wants it, try it. Be guided by what they ask for. If your patient is an in patient, most hospital floors at least have a microwave to warm stuff up in. Good thing since my brother wasn't even going to try the hospital food.

Don't worry if they don't eat everything you bring right away. They'll eat it all eventually. And there is no doubt a lot of this is mental. I could literally see my brother make up his mind he was not going to get sick from his treatment. I swear. And he's not supposed to be here now. but he is.

Edited by Marlene (log)

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I've been handling my nausea by drinking immense amounts of Caffeine Free Diet Coke. One of my oncologists says that the only good thing, in the respect that no one caught the T-Cell Lymphoma during my other treatments, is that I had a year of steroids and the accompanying weight gain, before this cancer was discovered. I have a lot of extra weight to hold me up. I'd give it up in a heartbeat to have had the extra year to fight, though. I'm a single mom, and I just can't leave yet! :blink:

More Than Salt

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My mother was on lots of different bouts of chemo - (side note: amazing the progress doctors have made. My uncle-by-marriage has the same kind of cancer my mother did (just 9 years later) and they're only giving him one round of chemo and believe that he will be cured. So always be optimistic and keep the fight up!)

A couple of things to note:

the effects are cumulative. So you might not start out so nauseous but by the end of the course it will be a different story. Try to enjoy what you can now!

If you are undergoing radiation, particularly anywhere close to the head-neck region, expect things to taste differently. My mother was a 6-10 cups of coffee a day drinker who couldn't stand the stuff after radiation

She wanted different things at different times. At one point it was keep the weight on fried chicken, biscuits, etc. Later it was the simpleness and restorative power of miso soup. And mostly, it was ensure or just water.

Drink water, water, water! Keep the chemicals flushing though your body.

Mostly, I'd just say its a hard road but one that can be done, one step in front of the other.

And family members who are caregivers, don't forget to take care of yourselves. Ultimately you will be a far better caregiver if you allow yourself to get away for an afternoon regularly. And staying with the patient while you are gone gives well-meaning friends a way to feel useful.

The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

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Amazing.

My wife has been going through chemotherapy for a couple of months now, and I was condsidering starting a thread like this myself.

She seems to like the stronger-flavored foods, though, contrary to some other posts here. I made very lime-y fajitas a week ago, and that was one of her favorites since this started.

But then, I made mac and cheese a couple days ago, and she liked that too.

Who knows. At least she's eating, and doing well.

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Many physicians are surreptitiously recommending that their patients take *ahem* contraband to assist with the nausea associated.

Special brownies may help...

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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I went through this myself almost 5 years ago (hallelujah! - couldn't have made it through without my Basilman) - the only thing I could stomach was bacon and eggs. Oh, and I remember drinking a LOT of red wine. ??? Probably not the best idea...but it got me through at the time.

I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.

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I have a friend who is in his fourth week of chemo and radiation (tonsil cancer). He hasn't been able to eat at all so they put a feeding tube in. He had been drinking a lot of Ensure and Ensure-based smoothies, but now he can't stand the smell of the vanilla Ensure. He said they're going to switch to the chocolate flavor but doesn't know how long he'll be able to stand it.

He's lost a lot of his sense of taste. His doctor said his taste buds may not come back after the radiation treatment which has really saddened my friend. He's not a foodie, per se, but loves to eat good food and dreads the thought of not having the pleasure of tasting. I try to be optimistic and remind him that he could be one of the lucky ones and they could come back.

He discovered that the time-release pain medication he was on was a major cause of his nausea. And he has used the herbal medication :wink: and says it does help lessen his overall nausea quite a bit.

Right now he can't eat anything acidic (it gives him mouth sores) or strong-flavored so he's on a bland diet when he can eat.

Thanks to everyone for the tip about drinking lots of water. I'll make sure to mention it to his wife.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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It took my brother's taste buds a bit to come back after radiation therapy (for lung cancer). Tell your friend to be patient. They should come back at least some but not until treatment is completed.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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It took my brother's taste buds a bit to come back after radiation therapy (for lung cancer).  Tell your friend to be patient.  They should come back at least some but not until treatment is completed.

Thanks, Marlene. I will pass on the info. We're all hoping for the best.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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When my dad went through chemo 20 years ago for brain cancer, at the end of the line my mom pumped him full of milkshakes since that was all he could handle. Raw eggs, protein powder - everything went into that thing.

Everyone has given such great advice, I don't have much else to add except best wishes to everyone and for all the helpers out there - you're more of a help than you can imagine.

Eating pizza with a fork and knife is like making love through an interpreter.
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*sigh*

Last year, my then 34 year old husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer (total shock out of left field) and had surgery and radiation to combat the tumor.

He began suffering from nausea almost immediately. So I prepared dinner meals that were bland like soup, roast chicken, white rice, mashed potatoes and cooked soft veggies like spinach. No raw foods were allowed and greasy foods were a no-no as well. The one time he got a craving for a steak dinner, he suffered from diarrhea all night. That was the last heavy/greasy meal he had while in treatment.

He didn't lose his appetite though and he liked eating a hearty breakfast of eggs, toast and coffee every morning after his treatments (which were early in the A.M.). And he went to work almost every day during the treatments. He wanted to keep his mind focused elsewhere and I think that working helped in his recovery.

For the last year, his tests have been coming back negative. So I have a lot to be thankful for.

Everyone who is suffering from this disease or who has a loved one suffering from it - I wish you all the best.

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I can chime in on the taste bud issue, Toliver, from personal experience: taste does come back for almost everyone, so he shouldn't worry too much about that. There may be random things that don't quite taste like they used to, but trust me, getting anything back is better than nothing. My biggest problem right now, beyond the physical act of eating, is that I'm a chilehead, and even the mildest chiles set my mouth on fire due to continual healing. Bummer. On the plus side, the early recovery issues with food tasting...muted (for lack of a better word) are getting better, although they are by no means gone. This is one of the reasons why the nutrition/dietician folks highly recommend using a variety of ingredients to spice things up a little. Lemon and other tart things are good not just for taste factor, for instance, but for the spit factor, since radiation to the mouth/neck area does a number on the salivary glands. And anything that gets recovering patients to eat is a good thing.

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I can chime in on the taste bud issue, Toliver, from personal experience: taste does come back for almost everyone, so he shouldn't worry too much about that....

Thank you for posting your experiences. My friend still has a way to go (only half way through his treatments). I'll pass on the info in hopes of reassuring him.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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  • 2 weeks later...
Thank you everyone for your words.  You have all brought tears to my eyes.

It is my longtime boyfriends' father who is starting treatment--he starts the first cycle at University of Michigan today.  His daughter--one of my closest friends--has moved home to help out.  I really appreciate the suggestion to cook for the helpers as well. 

I was at his house Sunday planting vegetables with him--trenching leeks, etc.  I hope to be able to pull some of those leeks out in a few months and use them in a special dish for him.  He's also planted tomatoes, lettuces, garlic, corn, peppers, and herbs.  He has a good attitude. 

As the treatment progresses we will all have to see how his appetite changes and what he is in the mood to eat. 

Thank you again for your kindness.

I know that it is a little off topic but I wanted to share the best gift I have ever given. I was in a similar situation as you. The week before a close friend, her mom and her granddaughter were to come to my home for dinner, the diagnoses was made of an advanced and fast moving cancer. Originally they cancelled, however my husband and I decided to move the dinner to the hosptial. We contacted the hospital, got a community room and proceeeded to turn it into our living room. Complete with fresh flowers, fine china and candles (Scared the nurses to death, beacuse the mom was on oxygen!) I made no changes to the menu and brought all 5 courses I had planned to serve at home. The daughter had invited family members to join us.

This woman sat with her loved ones enjoying conversation and a "home cooked" meal. Having worked in the medical field, I knew the implication of the prognosis, I'm not sure that the family did at that time. I still consider this to be the best gift I have ever given.

If you have a chance to cook for your friend and his dad, invite his family. The memories that are made over your meal wiill be something your boyfriend will treasure forever.

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If you have a chance to cook for your friend and his dad, invite his family.  The memories that are made over your meal wiill be something your boyfriend will treasure forever.

i cannot stress this point strongly enough. We had a year with my brother which we used to have huge family meals and get togethers. The memories we built over the last year are ones that will stay in my mind forever. We are getting into the final weeks now, where he's not eating much and is in a lot of pain, but when I walk into his hospital room the things we talk about are the memories we bulid over this last year, all of which revolved around food. "Remember that awesome steak? That lazagna you made me was the best ever." He's even planned his wake in which he has been very specific about the food he wants served. That's my bro. Food brings it all home and completes the circle. Food is comfort and really can help with the healing process as well for both the patient and the ones suffering along with them. Cook your brains out, would be my advice.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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  • 3 months later...

I have scanned through your posts and understand how much you want to use your skill and your heart's effort to help your loved ones and friends. It is especially hard when one your ways of showing care seems irrelevant when someone is undergoing chemo. We just try to do the best we can.

So here is my try-- my father, a cancer patient whose surgery has placed an output that is at the meeting of the small and large intesting, cannot digestively process many of the calories he consumes. I know we are not doctors--or acting that capacity--, but I have not found too much help in the hospital or online. What I am trying to figure out is if beyond Ensure there is much you can do for calorie supplement. I do not think there is a plain flavor (like yogurt) you can add and I do not think you can heat Ensure. What could I add as a caloric agent to food that is not a high dairy fat?

Please PM or post if you have any thoughts.

Best to you all,

Buttercup

edited because I was very unclear

Edited by buttercup (log)
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