Should I be more concerned about nutrition or just make sure I eat?

My oncologist at Vanderbilt university medical center ( which is a very well respected hospital among cancer treatment professionals ) told me he wasn't concerned about trying to control my nutrition , his only requirement in that department is that I don't loose any weight. But this is the one time in my life I was actually looking forward to starting a new diet and know I was doing everything possible for my health. So next time I saw him I tried to bring it up in a different way, I asked if he would refer me to a nutritionist so I can make sure I'm on the right track. Again he said" if you want to see a nutritionist that's up to you however there is no science that backs any of this up , however if you do I must insist you let me know exactly what changes you plan to make before you actually make them because they can disrupt treatment , and again said the most important thing is don't loose any weight. Has anyone else ran into this problem? I know I should follow doc orders above all but this seams to be a very strange position for a doc to take. But again he is an oncologist and professor at one of the best cancer institutions in the country. And other docs here seem to have same mindset. Anyway I bought a couple books people suggested but I'm reluctant to make many changes.



15 Replies

  • At a certain point the chemo will affect your tastebuds. Things that you love today may taste awful tomorrow. For me coffee was the worst. I love coffee but it tasted like I was chewing the grounds. Don't worry though your taste will return to normal.

    Right now eating is most important. The Anti Cancer book that someone here mentioned before is a good guide. Try to stay away from refined sugars but know that cancer is a smart little cell and it knows how to make the sugars it needs to feed itself from other tissues and cells in your body including your muscles. The heart and brain burn a lot of energy and need some sugars in order to function well but those found naturally in foods is best.

    Some foods, especially grapefruit, interfere with the chemo. I'll find the list if I can.

    I had ice cream with fudge sauce nearly everyday of my treatment.

  • Ok , well I guess I'm starting to overthink the nutrition thing now I just hadn't yet decided a clear path for that but I guess I can adjust a little at a time. I just can't believe one doc would put so much importance on it then the next puts none at all.

    Thanks for info,


  • @RwHayes Hi I was told the same thing gain weght. I was in the hospital seven days after my lobectomy. When I got out I weighed 121 which was normal for me. they kept after me to gain.When I started chemo they didn't make me sick it actually made hungry. I wasn't a breakfast eater I started eating a big breakfast and ate off and on all day. I was on two chemos once a week for three weeks than off a week. My dr didn't tell me to eat certain foods he just wanted me to gain. I gained 25lbs which put me over ahundred forty some lbs. I was on chemo for six months no radiation. I get a ct scan every six months and a lung xray every three. Its been three years i've been told that i'm cancer free,but I still have to do tests until my fifth year. I had stage 3 and in my lyphmnodes it is all gone. That is all there worried about that you gain weight it doesn't matter what you eat. Sorry i'm very talkative to day. I hope this has helped Jo Taylor

  • Thanks jo,

    I guess I'm overthinking everything now just nerves I guess



  • What kind of treatment were u on. To get to this position? Thanks

  • Cisplatin,etoposide. 3 days in row then break for 3 weeks.and concurrent radiation on 2nd or third round

  • Jo, your answer brought a smile to my face. Well do I remember the steroid induced hunger! Lots of things tasted awful but lots of things were really great. Cheese and crackers were my thing.

  • My Oncologist told me the same thing that there is no scientific proof that nutrition plays a role in cancer recovery. I agree with Dr. Servan Schreiber who wrote an excellent book, Anti cancer the New Way of Life (yellow sticker on book has newer studies) talks about the role nutrition plays in your recovery. He refers to it as changing your terrain. He includes how the need to increase food production after WWII caused the ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6's to change ratio from 1:1 to 1:6 and how how Omega 3 decrease inflammation and Omega 6's increase inflammation. There is so much good information and hope within this book that I, being a stage IV Non small cell adenocarcinoma lung cancer survivor (diagnosed December 2014) without evidence of disease give this book to anyone newly diagnosed with cancer and to all of my family members who are healthy. I do believe it is a combination of medication, nutrition, prayer, avoidance of negativity and stress. A positive mental attitude is so important.

    I wish you well.

  • Dr. Michael Greger ( has reported that most physicians actually get very little training in nutrition. One exception is doctors trained in lifestyle medicine. Also, there is a shortage of rigorous scientific studies on nutritional impact on cancer because there just isn't a lot of profit to be made off regular foods in comparison to chemo drugs. For myself, improving my nutrition to make my body as inhospitable to cancer as possible was a key piece in feeling like I was taking a more active role in my treatment- being proactive rather than solely reactive, and acting rather than being acted upon. Don't underestimate the psychological benefits! That being said, do make sure to let your oncologist know about any major dietary changes you make.

  • Yes, my oncologist similarly said he will likely support anything that makes me feel better (acupuncture, yoga, reflexology ) except a radical change in diet. I met with a dietician at my cancer center and feel that her guidelines are enough of a challenge. We hVe to balance quality of life with all of the treatment and lifestyle changes and challenges. Radical diets may give an illusion and feeling of control over this disease, but I think a moderate approach is best ( healthy changes to diet without eliminating all sugar or all fat or all Anything, and without supplements that could have unintended effects--who knows what's in there or how it affects treatment??) Eat well, rest well, love and respect your body, enjoy your food and lifestyle. Make sure chemo/treatments/etc and nutrition are tools to live well with cancer: don't live for chemo/diet etc but makes those tools for living well.

  • Rw, I agree with what others here have said, and I would add that if you feel interested in this, then I would make an appointment with a dietitian and have a chat. They can teach you a lot, and help you find ways to fight nausea, fatigue, etc. You don't have to follow their suggestions, but it gives you useful tools. And, yes, please let your doctor know if you make any big changes.

    It is likely that if the dietitian is associated with Vanderbilt, they will be very knowledgeable about what you can and cannot eat while on chemo.

    So, if you are interested, go see what they have to say - knowledge is power. If you do, let us know how that goes, we'll be curious to hear.

  • @Denzie pop corn was mine Jo

  • @RwHayes Don't give up keep fighting I know its really hard.The rest of us will be right there with you.Jo Taylor

  • Hi RW. I was going threw a Viral Upper Throat Pneumonia for a month. I had to cancel my Intensity-Modulated Radiation treatment 5x's. NOT GOOD !!! But I was so sick + weak, anyway my home Doc. put me on some prednisone 10 mgs and I started to drink Ensure High protein shake daily. 5 days later I felt so much better and was ready to go in for my radiation's. I did my 3 day's for 20 minute treatments of IMRT. 3/27-28+29. Today is 3/31. I feel like I've been Zapped . lol Doc. up my prednisone to 20mg for 5 days and I'm drinking 4 protein drinks daily now in which I should of done b4 treatments ~~~ Live + Learn !. SO if I was you !!! GET to drinking Ensure High Protein shakes it does help out a lot when we go threw Radiation or Chemo. My weight b4 I started drinks was 116 today I'm a 119 still wet and wild but GOD is so GREAT. Praying for you RW. Believe in Jesus and you will BE HEALED . God Bless . Praying for you..

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