I was in contact with the nutritionist several times throughout the first few months, more often prior to chemo. During my follow-ups with the radio-oncologist, I would head over to the nutritionist’s office, only a few steps away, for some new ideas.
She tried to help me get extra calories, over the ones I would receive from the feeding bag. Protein powder mixed in with my soups, meal replacement drinks, and high calorie foods were her favourites. I used the powder only a few times in my sweet potatoe puree soup, but not in my drinks. The sandy texture took away any appeal from the food I already didn’t have a taste for. The meal replacements were awful – my palette savouring only chemicals. They were also filled with lactose, which I was now allergic to. So those were left out as well.
My taste buds were more intricate now. Recognizing only the chemicals in processed foods, they became unappetizing. I managed homemade soups and fruit from baby-food jars prior to chemo starting, but once the treatments began, I was too nauseated to eat.
The doctors and nutritionist made it clear that getting as many calories as possible was important prior to chemo commencing. My surgeon told me, “Eat whatever you want.”
They all made it seem so simple, but it was far from that. Even the patients I mentor express similar difficulties. They have fear about trying any foods, and how much they can eat in one sitting. There was also the lack of feeling a need to eat, since recognizing hunger was no longer there.
If I wasn’t nauseated, I ate what I remember enjoying prior to surgery. The quantity was my concern, and the frequent vomiting and blockages were not helping. I had to learn what and how much was acceptable by my new anatomy. With the new restrictions, and the constant nausea, I soon realized that I was on my own to discover what works.