Being a nurse doesn't help when its y... - The Roy Castle Lu...

The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation

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Being a nurse doesn't help when its your own family!

jaynerebecca profile image

My husband was diagnosed with stage 3 non small cell lung cancer affectiong 2 nodes and 1 met.Following successful radiotherapy treatment of prostate cancer 4 years ago.This is a new primary cancer not linked.

He completed his second course of chemotherapy 7 days ago and this is where we are at loggerheads.He barely eats during his first seven days post chemo, saying he feels blocked and bloated and his weight loss is noticeable.However because his blood counts were normal after 3 weeks following his first course he takes this as a sign that his lack of appetite had little effect on his recovery.Is he right am I worrying uneccesarily ?

I was a community nurse specialising in latter stage palliative care before I retired last year you would think that I would have all the answers but Im falling into all the pit falls I used to advise my patients and families against.


7 Replies

Hi jaynerebecca,

Of course its completely different when its your own family, and your practical head has lost its way!

While it is great that your husbands bloods are normal, its important that he knows that diet plays a significant part in fighting the disease,in conjuction with the chemotherapy.

Its understandable to lack appetite when he feels as you describe, so try and encourage him to eat small portions regularly.

If he can't face eating at all, try a nourishing drink or ask the dietician to prescribe some supplement drinks. (Take a look at our section on diet in our Inspire magazine page 19 then go to How we can help/our publications/inspire magazine spring summer 2012)

I hope this helps, but I'm sure you knew it anyway.

Best Wishes,


thanks Beth,I am managing to get small amounts into him three times a day but its a battle each time.Build up drinks are a complete no no we've tried all types.Fortunately today seems to be the day his appetite is returning so its all peace until the 27th,Wish me luck.

Hi Jane,

sorry that you are going through this I think it's very hard for the carers. I am a nurse too but also now a patient. It is important for him to get nutrients into his system despite his bloods being ok he will need to be in tip top form to keep his immune system healthy and be able to fight any infection he may come across. I didn't have traditional chemo so I have no idea what it's like however I do know that to give myself a fighting chance I must remain as healthy as possible and that means a well balanced diet with all the nutrients I need. You know this anyway.

The 'Penny Brohn Cancer care' center may be able to help you:

They specialise in the well being of all cancer patients.

Once he picks up you will find your nursing experience and background a god send. I wish you luck best wished to you both.


Hi Lynn ,

I felt exactly the same as your husband ... after the first twenty four hours it seemed like swallowing molten lead .

My poor husband would try and tempt me with little delicacies and out of gratitude to him I did my best to swallow them. It sounds ridiculous but for the first week it was revolting.

The following week I could stomach a small amounts of food ...Although it still tasted appalling .... The third I could eat with more appetite and have a glass of wine!

Then it was time to start again!

I think the best you can do for him is to get as much nutrition in to him when he is able to stomach it.

It is not an easy path for either of you .... but I am speaking seven years on from ex treatment .

I wish you both strength and very best wishes for the future,


ho i hope it gos well for him

thanks for your kind replies,I do agree with everything you say but when he refuses to eat I feel helpless and end up being angry which is the last thing he deserves or needs .

Hi ,I can understand how you both feel ,I was a nurse ,had chemo post lobectomy surgery however food just tasted yuk .When my blood counts were down something changed and I think I could eat meat like a cannibal .I remember getting a roast chicken out of the oven for the family when it crossed my mind I could just nip out into the garden and eat it all in one sitting. My message is your body tells you what you need .The week after chemo I would lose at least 6Ilbs and later I would pile it back on again until the next cycle. Milk based products were definitely off my menu ,green teas were definitely helpful .I concentrated on drinking lots of sparkling water and also egg on toast went down ok .

It cannot be easy for either of you ,it is a slow process nibbling a bit here and there is better than nothing .Everything I usually ate and enjoyed tasted revolting during chemo and something's that I associate with chemo I still avoid now .

I wish you both well ,having been a nurse makes it difficult for you ,nursing close family is difficult and more challenging as is nursing yourself .Thinking of you both hope things improve .Diane.

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