Cancer Care BlogBlogs-contributors, Cancer Blogs, Dr. Diane Hastings — By Dr. Hastings on December 3, 2010 at 5:14 am
Many of us put off taking really good care of ourselves until a diagnosis of cancer forces us to pause and focus on our own needs. Then, between treatments and trying to maintain their health, patients often tell me that they feel as if it is a full time job.
Given the challenges of radiation or chemotherapy, it does require tremendous energy to drink enough fluids, eat sufficiently to maintain your weight and follow up with the numerous medical appointments for treatments and evaluations.
Many patients are anxious to do everything perfectly to get through this time. If you are an overachiever, you will put even more pressure on yourself during treatment. Now is the time to slow down and set small goals.
There will be time for your major self-improvement campaign after you complete your treatment. Even if your weight is not exactly where you would like to be, weight loss and cancer treatment don’t mix!
Side effects from treatment are more likely and more severe and the risk of infection is greater if you lose weight during your treatment. Your first goal is simply to pay attention to your weight. Most treatment centers will weigh you weekly, but if not, you will need to remind them to check your weight and write it down yourself.
Weight loss during treatment can occur because of difficulty consuming enough protein and calories, or because of poor absorption in the gut. Either way, protein calorie malnutrition is very common during treatment. Staying well-nourished can require a major effort on your part. It is well worth your persistence though, as your body needs to make protein for full recovery from your cancer and its’ treatment.
The goal of the Cancer Care Blog is to provide cancer related information in a supportive way so that the recent and up-to-date information on care and treatment is accessible. Diane Hastings is a certified physician assistant in Maryland at a Radiation Oncology practice; with an Ed.D. and MPH in Nutrition and Health Education from Columbia University.