How do I motivate my Dad with cancer t... - Lung Cancer Support

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How do I motivate my Dad with cancer to eat and exercise

Diane_B_Daughter profile image

My father is on Chemo. This form he takes at home. My father is withering away. He doesn’t refuse to eat or move, he promises to do it later and doesn’t. Begging and threats do no good. When I ask him if he has given up he says “no, you just don’t know how bad I feel”. He tells the doctors what they want to hear so there is no support there.

Please share any tricks you may have. Thank you!

10 Replies

My short answer is that he simply speaks the truth about how bad he feels; Bless his heart. I have told many people that the word “fatigue” doesn’t begin to describe the experience. The glass of water next to the chair weighs too much to bring it to my lips during the worst times (and I am 48 still playing volleyball and working out with a fitness trainer in the best times between treatments.) Too say fatigue is similar to being very tired is a ridiculous understatent and comparison. I did find that even when I wasn’t hungry, I could drink some of a homemade smoothie or a milkshake or chocolate cake or Chinese food. Another friend was facing a feeding tube—it had to get to that desperate of a health issue before she was able to “force herself” to eat. I know I’m not offering the “tricks” you are looking for, but please continue to be patient with him. Offer anything that sounds good to him even if a dietician would cringe In a different situation. Hopefully with spring weather you can get him outdoors to just walk to the end of the block. Or if he has grandkids who play sports that he could attend?...even the getting out the door, through a parking lot, and to an event like that will be movement. And if you do think he is depressed or would be open minded about therapy, ask your cancer center if they have psychologists on staff. University of Kansas and many centers have onco-psychologists who specialize in working with cancer patients. Mine is a Godsend.

Best wishes and prayers,


If nausea is an issue, someone on inspire has posted about Sancusa patches that worked well for her and she never got sick on them. i'm about to so start chemo, but my dr said that i can't get insurance won't pay for the patches until i've demonstrated that i've used and tolerated the use of oral / anti- nausea meds in the form of pills. wonderful, i was hoping to avoid getting sick in the first place, but i'll have to see how it if goes. everyone is different, but i would imagine that that keeping up the nutition up is important. if he doesn't have an appetite, don't make a while plate of anything that looks like a lot of food or too sweet or too thick or whatever that would make it turn him off food but he might be able to in tolerate small bites. of a variety of different things. and see if he can put away just a sampler plattter of just a few bites, it could add up better than trying to force feed a shake or ensure. i love shakes but i do not like to feel too full.

as for fatigue, it is hard to drag someone out of bed , but a physical therapist can show you/ him some easy exercises that will keep him from getting deconditioned. like with getting a child to eat well, you can;t beg or threaten them into it. setting acheivable goals might help and he might listen to someone else like a therapist or dietitien or the cute nice neighbor across the street. i love my sister but i find myself snapping at her when she pushes a bit too hard. it's hard to be a caretaker. just do your best

Where do you live? Edible marijuana is best it’s worked for many.

Another suggestion more practical is to do small steps — BJ Fogg the Stanford behavioral dr speaks s lot online about it.

One day it’s the stairs

Next day stairs and end of driveway



Go one step further

But it is REALLY TOUGH because as Jennifer notes it’s not fatigue it’s a bone viscera weariness that often taps into depression

Small steps

Drs are useless here

But nurses are quite helpful

Ensure drinks are also good because of calories and proteins

Be strong

I live in Massachusetts. I am going to get some edibles today. Thanks!

Hi Diane, when I was on Zykadia, I couldn’t eat. Had no appetite. My caregivers offered everything. Only when I was told by doctor if I didn’t start eating it would be necessary to put in a feeding tube within a couple of weeks. Only then did I force myself and started with soup. It is hard to explain how bad you feel. The fatigue is so bad you don’t feel like you can make the effort to chew or swallow. I didn’t worry about exercise during treatment. Just normal movement was hard enough. It didn’t mean I was giving up. I am a person who never gives up. My diagnosis was stage four in 2013 and given eight months to live. I am still here and just celebrated my 72nd birthday.

Praying for your dad


Thank you for your insight.

I agree with the comments above, and would like to add the possibility of depression. The fatigue from cancer combined with the fatigue from depression can make things impossible. Talk to his oncologist and speak the truth instead of your dad's sugar-coating. They need to know what is really happening so they can treat him appropriately. It is possible there is nothing they can do, but it gives them a heads up as to what is really happening

Denzie profile image

Lots of good advice so far. Would just like to add that if medical marijuana is not available for him there are several Rx appetite stimulants that can help.

I would especially be concerned about the depression.

Medical marijuana. Only thing that worked on nausea.

Glucerna nutrition drinks, chocolate flavor and add chocolate ice cream on top and shake. Tastes like a milkshake.

When I was at my worst, the following foods got me ‘ some’ nutrition and something in my tummy; soft creamy pudding, jello ,malts, milkshakes and importantly softly scrambled and well salted scrambled eggs. Equally important , all food had a terrible metallic taste, so I used only plastic silverware. Exercise can be tricky, when you are really at a low point , just getting up and walking around the house, or to and from the mailbox may be about all you can do at that time . People do not like to believe that about exercise , but sometimes it really is too difficult. It will get better . See if you can slowly get him up an start moving inside and just outside thehouse. Been there and Done that, All the Best! judg69

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