Diana, I am undergoing treatments for cancer and am not eating well.
What should I do?
receive many inquiries that have different variations on this important
question. Unfortunately, I no longer consult with people on an individual
basis, and general answers are often simply not adequate to address
the full scope of the many concerns that are unique to your situation.
I strongly urge
you to seek out the Registered Dietitian (RD) on staff at your cancer
center/clinic. She (or he) is educated to thoroughly review your medical
information, discuss the particulars of your case with all appropriate
members of your health care team, make an individualized nutritional
plan specific to your needs, abilities, and desires, and then follow
you with both encouragement and refinements in the recommendations as
the situation changes. Be pro-active about asking for an appointment
with an RD. Do not wait until your symptoms are severe or you have lost
If your cancer
center does not have an RD on staff or is so short-staffed that you
need to wait weeks to see her or there are other *systems problems*
that prohibit you from receiving pro-active, in-depth, individualized
nutritional care within a reasonable time-frame, I suggest the following
1. look in
your phone book for a Registered Dietitian (RD) in private practice
- they can either be listed under Dietitians or Nutritionists.
2. Call The
American Dietetic Association (ADA) at 1-800-877-1600 or use the ADA's
website or visit the Dietitians
of Canada website to find a local Registered Dietitian in private
3. Call the
American Institute for Cancer Research (1-800-843-8114) and ask to
speak to one of their Registered Dietitians for some general information.
4. Read the
book "Eating Hints for Cancer Patients" by The National
Cancer Institute. It is available free of charge by calling 1-800-4-CANCER.
Your cancer center may have a free copy to give you, or read the entire
on the Internet.
5. Read the
book The Cancer Survival Cookbook : 200 Quick & Easy Recipes With
Helpful Eating Hints by Donna L. Weihofen, MS, RD, and Christina Marino,
MD. This is available for purchase from my website,
or your cancer center may have a copy to loan you.
When/if you have
the time and/or desire, please advocate on behalf of yourself and other
patients at your own cancer center for increased access to a Registered
Dietitian as a beneficial component of your total cancer recovery care.
Ask to speak to the medical and also the administrative directors of
the center/clinic about your request.
requirements need to be addressed in a pro-active, in-depth, and individualized
manner with appropriate follow-up monitoring. Registered Dietitians
are the members of the health care team that have the education and
skills to do this in a specialized manner. However, they are often staffed
simply as an *after-thought* in cancer centers and then at staffing
levels that are woefully inadequate for the size and complexity of the
patient population's needs. RNs and MDs trying to fill in the gaps without
the necessary time or thorough training to do so.
I am hopeful
and believe this common situation of inadequately staffing RDs in cancer
centers can change when the patients themselves (ie the customers) start
requesting appropriate nutritional care from their health care system
as part of the total approach to healing and recovery after a cancer
I hope this answer
has been helpful. I send you my best wishes for health, healing, and
to Main QandA
Concerns during Cancer Treatment (related
to side effects)
you provide a list of all chemotherapy drugs called alkylating agents that
may potentially have interactions with antioxidant supplements during chemotherapy?
Diana, I am undergoing treatments for cancer and am not eating well. What
should I do? posted
I drink your soy shake recipes if my oncologist or dietitian has recommended
that I follow a neutropenic diet due to my low white blood cell counts?
5/00, updated 7/01, updated 11/02, updated 8/03
I consume antioxidants during my cancer therapy? posted
12/01, updated 10/02
herbs interact with any of the chemotherapy drugs? posted
4/01, updated 9/02
there any diet changes to help relieve bloating during abdominal radiation?
you have diet suggestions for someone who has diarrhea after
radiation therapy for rectal cancer? posted
1/04, updated 4/04, 11/04, 1/05
it safe to drink green tea if I have a port for administration of my chemotherapy?
you tell me foods to eat to reduce the acid in my urine and pain in my bladder
and ureters? posted
2/04, updated 5/05
can I eat a diet as healthy as you suggest if I need to be
hospitalized for more than a day or two? posted
husband is having chemotherapy treatments and has lost his sense
of taste after one treatment. Are there any foods I can prepare that will
give him some relief?
there a good web site describing the nutrition related side effects from
chemo drugs? posted
I stop drinking green tea during chemotherapy to avoid consuming too many
antioxidants? posted 7/05
can I use the diet recommendations on your web site and in your book
to both increase my intake of cancer fighting foods for optimizing
my cancer recovery and lose weight at the same time? posted
tips do you have to stay on a healthy diet during the holiday season? posted
These questions and answers
are intended to be of a general informative nature. Please consult with
the Registered Dietitian in your cancer center or your health care provider
for nutritional advice that can be individualized to your specific medical