Chemotherapy is not a one-size-fits-all experience. When faced with chemotherapy, many cancer patients turn to online research, but reading about the recommendations only goes so far. Oftentimes, talking with other patients or survivors regarding how to cope with the uncomfortable side effects of treatment can be more helpful.
Cytotoxic drugs are designed to inhibit the proliferation of rapidly dividing cancer cells – but they also affect some of the healthy cells in the body. Because of this, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy lose their hair, suffer from fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, mouth sores, and anemia.
During our 25 years of experience in the legal field, hundreds of our clients shared the stories of their diagnosis, treatment, and life after cancer. As they told us about their challenges and fears, they revealed their strength, courage, and resilience, and in the process, they each gave us hope that a positive outcome lies ahead.
Eating Tips That Can Help You Cope With Chemotherapy-Associated Side Effects
- Eat smaller meals for managing chemotherapy-induced nausea. Nausea is one of the biggest pitfalls of undergoing chemotherapy. Not everybody will experience this uncomfortable side effect, and oftentimes, symptoms may be only mild. Although nausea may seem like a minor side effect of chemotherapy, it can lead to a loss of appetite. In turn, a loss of appetite can lead to weight loss, malnutrition, and loss of muscle mass, which can be serious. Knowing how to control nausea and vomiting is important to staying healthy during your treatment. Avoid eating or drinking too much in one sitting; feeling overly full will make nausea even more intense. You can have small, light meals.
- Using food to combat the cancer-related fatigue post-treatment. Feeling very tired and lacking energy can be a common side effect of almost any type of cancer treatment, including chemotherapy. Nutrition can have a significant impact on the debilitating effects of fatigue during cancer treatment. Proper and adequate nutrition is critically important for maintaining energy levels, retaining muscle mass, and preventing nutrient deficiencies. Eat as much as possible at your best time of day, for example, if fatigue worsens later in the day, eat a larger breakfast or lunch.
- Extra fluids and easy-to-digest foods can help you cope with chemotherapy-induced diarrhea. Some chemotherapy drugs cause diarrhea. When you have diarrhea, you lose vital fluids and minerals with each bowel movement; replacing those lost fluids and electrolytes is essential and should be done by drinking clear fluids like fruit juices without pulp, such as apple or white grape juice, fruit-flavored beverages, such as fruit punch or lemonade, in addition to your recommended daily intake of water. Manage diarrhea by eating bland, small meals that are easy to digest. Try broths, bananas, applesauce, crackers, noodles, eggs, and yogurt. Avoid dairy products, raw fruits and vegetables, nuts, and greasy, fried foods. Think of foods that absorb water and have a sticky quality after preparation or cooking, such as oats, barley, and plain white rice.
- Eat foods that limit the loss of appetite and taste changes. Some chemotherapy drugs can change the way the receptors within your mouth and nose tell your brain what you are tasting or smelling. Suddenly, foods lack flavor and taste bland. Before eating, try rinsing your mouth with beverages like mint tea, ginger ale, or baking soda dissolved in water. Citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons and grapefruit can also help stimulate the taste buds. Loss of appetite and taste changes can lead to weight loss, nutritional deficiencies, and loss of strength. No matter how long your appetite loss lasts, it is still vitally important to make sure your body is getting the nutrition it needs – even if you don’t feel hungry.
How Our Cancer Clients Cope With Eating Problems Such as Loss of Appetite and Taste Changes
Many people with cancer, such as Joe S. – a client of ours whom we met two years ago when he decided to pursue a claim for compensation – have had to come up with their own tried-and-true ways to combat cancer treatments’ common and difficult side effects like “chemo mouth,” nausea, fatigue, and more.
Joe S. was falling sick too often and then he decided to consult a doctor to find out what was wrong. The verdict was severe but somehow expected. He was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer due to long-term exposure to asbestos. When he was in the thick of his first go-round of chemotherapy, it was a struggle to figure out his daily meals. His doctors started him on a chemo regimen with some brutal side effects. After trying out different foods that hurt too much to eat or didn’t appeal to his temporarily scrambled taste buds, Joe found he could stomach cereal or graham crackers soaked in lukewarm milk until they were soft and mushy.
During the complex and difficult cancer journey, some burdens can be shared, others have to be carried alone. This distinction is essential and worth thinking about when coping with some of the challenges of chemotherapy. It is important to focus on eating the right kinds of foods that can help you feel better and stay stronger. Awareness of your own tools makes it possible to use them with greater enlightenment and that can be helpful.
This is a sponsored post by Environmental Litigation Group