• Patient not eating enough is she dying? How do you know that? Treatment seems to be working except this.

    Asked by ML05059 on Thursday, September 11, 2014

    Patient not eating enough is she dying? How do you know that? Treatment seems to be working except this.

    19 Answers from the Community

    19 answers
    • lilymadeline's Avatar
      lilymadeline

      Talk to her oncologist immediately! Call tomorrow morning and report this and ask for help, if you don’t get it immediately then keep calling and calling. It doesn’t mean that she is dying at all especially if her treatment is working, it only means that she lost her appetite and this is a common problem.
      First off she is my age and she should realize how important that it is to take care of her body because her survival depends on it. Anti-depressants might help her if she is feeling hopeless, I’m stage IV as well and it is easy to go there. But many of us live for decades so there is really no reason to feel that way. Anti-depressants might help her have a more positive frame of mind so that she will force herself to eat a little, I did. I took tiny bites and sipped on healthy smoothies and soups. You can get a lot down if you just take tiny bits and sips. I still have to force myself to eat sometimes due to medications that cause appetite loss. It is surprising to me because I used to be a chow hound, but it is what it is.
      OK, so having a good attitude will help her take care of her body and feed it, also if she is on chemo is she taking her anti nausea medications as they are written every 4 hours or so? That is very important! Is she constipated and just can’t talk about it? That will cause a loss in appetite. Miralax can help but you need to discuss this with her and her oncologist.
      And my last idea is steroids- which are regularly given to cancer patients along with chemo therapy for many reasons but partly because they can greatly increase appetite! Ask her oncologist about putting her on a low dosage of steroids maybe every other day for awhile until she gets eating again. There are risks to steroids but not particularly for short term usage, and it is more important that she eats.
      Hopefully others will have ideas for you as well!!!
      So sorry that this has happened but hopefully she will get through this quickly.
      Good luck to both of you and God bless!

      about 5 years ago
    • melanomamama's Avatar
      melanomamama

      Marijuana equals munchies.

      about 5 years ago
    • geekling's Avatar
      geekling

      She can manage with less food for a time but not without water.

      I hope you have a juicer for her. If not, head to a fresh juice bar. The liquids both hydrate and fuel her.

      Celery, cucumber and an herb like ginger or parsley or mint are both hydrating and refreshing and I haven't heard about the particular concoction making anyone very nauseous.

      Cold fruit soups will, most likely, be very well tolerated. Best wishes

      about 5 years ago
    • Bb31565's Avatar
      Bb31565

      Loss of appetite is a side effect of some drugs. Call the oncologist tomorrow and get ideas. Dehydration is serious if she doesn't get fluids

      about 5 years ago
    • RosiePosey's Avatar
      RosiePosey

      I know exactly what you are going through. My husband has stage IV colon cancer with Mets to his lung and brain. After whole brain radiation, stereoscopic radiation on the brain tumors after WBR didn't even slow them down, and 8 treatments so far with FOLFIRI chemo all of his tumors are shrinking. He has that metallic chemo taste when he eats though so it's hard to get him to take anything in. Very frustrating, very! He's losing weight (wasting away it seems) and really the only thing he's taking in reliably is orange juice. The doctor started him on marinol (basically the main ingredient in marijuana but in pill form so it's legal for us). We just upped his dose so I am hopeful this will help.

      about 5 years ago
    • cam32505's Avatar
      cam32505

      I didn't eat or drink real well during chemo, but I tried the week before the next chemo (as that was my best time). If the patient isn't eating, you need to know if it's depression (anti-depressant medicine needed) or physical (pain, anti-nausea, anti-anxiety medicine needed). Ask her onc.

      about 5 years ago
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar
      LiveWithCancer

      How long has she not been eating? When I got traditional chemo, I wouldn't eat or drink much at all for the first week. The result of not drinking or moving around much was severe constipation that makes you sooooo miserable. Good luck! You have gotten some great advice here - especially to call the doctor right away!

      about 5 years ago
    • barryboomer's Avatar
      barryboomer

      When you say not eating enough....what exactly do you mean. It's not about quantity as much as quality. You can eat LOTS less calories, get skinnier than the average overweight American and be very healthy...SO it all depends.
      BUT cancer is insidious and can cause you to lose your appetite and it's called cachexia I THINK...

      about 5 years ago
    • melanomamama's Avatar
      melanomamama

      I have observed that lack of appetite can signal different things at different stages of this disease. If the lack of appetite occurs during chemotherapy, and the person is otherwise able to get around most of the time, all of the advice about dealing with chemo-related lack of appetite is good. But if the person has pretty much stopped functioning, and is on hospice, no longer getting chemo, and the person can no longer eat, that could mean the end is near, but hospice workers know how to judge this stage of end-of-life treatment. There is a time to continue to encourage the dying patient to eat, maybe giving them bites of yoghurt and sips of water, but at the end, when their digestive system no longer functions, it is somewhat cruel to encourage this, because they will end up with painful bloating, and painful constipation.

      about 5 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar
      GregP_WN

      Most all of us have a decreased appetite at some point through the process. Some are worse than others. I lost 45 - 50 # during each of my diagnoses. My mother and father were on hospice during their final bouts with cancer, each were given terminal diagnoses, both ate fairly well up until the very end then stopped eating. But we are talking about people that are bed ridden and just waiting out time with no treatment going on. Your case sounds like she is still doing fair except for not eating. I always tried to eat as many times a day as I could stomach it, small bites, several times a day even if I didn't like it. I had to offer mom and dad little bites of different things the same way. We wish the best for her.

      about 5 years ago
    • barryboomer's Avatar
      barryboomer

      Make Mellon Balls.....cold....and put in a bowl near her.
      Small delicious bowels of healthy things at her side can help.
      If the melons aren't sweet....add stevia....make them good.
      Bowel of Strawberries, Raspberries and Blueberries......Mixed together in a soup bowl with lots of stevia on it and then some cool whip....ummmmmmm....
      AND some delicious pop corn or raw almonds....ummmmm.
      Must be at her side when she is OUT of the kitchen.....it won't feel like a meal...snack all day on delicious tasting healthy foods.....Great Fruit Smoothies are great too.

      about 5 years ago
    • TammyR's Avatar
      TammyR

      Lemon head candy helps me. I have found everything you eat and drink tastes like metal. I cannot drink from plastic cups or glass. I bought Dixie paper cups and that works better form me. I carry the lemon heads candy with me. When I take the steroids night before chemo and morning of chemo I immediately suck on lemon heads. Hope this helps

      about 5 years ago
    • kalindria's Avatar
      kalindria

      Some here have already suggested that we can all lives on fewer calories than we are accustomed to eating so perhaps writing down exactly what she's eating so you can accurately track her calories will help. I lost about 40 lbs. when I was first diagnosed and started chemo, partly because my tumor was causing so many problems and then I was feeling badly from the chemo too. I sipped juices, tea and soups but there were days when I really didn't eat much at all. I DID stay hydrated and always had a bottle of water by my side. We got Ensure and other nutritional beverages but I couldn't stand those.

      I would definitely call her doctor and let them know what's going on and see if they are as concerned as you are. They should also be able to give you helpful suggestions as well as adjusting her drugs if they deem necessary. Good luck and remember we're here for you.

      about 5 years ago
    • lilymadeline's Avatar
      lilymadeline

      If she is on chemo: Citrus is good at that time. I found I drank more water if I put lemon juice or extract in it. TammyR is totally right about not being able to drink out of plastic or glass, I went through that as well but had completely forgotten about it. And lemon head candy is a great idea! But any citrus might help her palate on chemo, so it is worth trying.

      about 5 years ago
    • Ejourneys' Avatar
      Ejourneys

      Many good suggestions here. Chemo changes the taste of foods, so old favorites can become repulsive. Finding food that's palatable can be trial and error. As has already been said, constipation can be an issue as well.

      Hydration is key (I drink at least 10 glasses/day). If sipping water is too difficult, suck on ice chips. Even mild exercise can help with appetite and with decreasing side effects -- the day I got A/C chemo, all I could manage was walking throughout the house a few times. The next day, I would resume exercise at a lower intensity and slowly build back up.

      If constipation is a factor, hydration helps with that, too, as does prune juice. Colace if you need harder stuff.

      I carry my water bottle everywhere, and also a small bottle of lemon juice, which I include when I need to refill my water. It helps combat metallic chemo mouth.

      A/C also gave me heartburn, which interfered with my eating. My ARNP prescribed Prilosec 40 mg. Report everything to the medical team, because they have solutions. To combat nausea I get IV steroids (Decadron), IV Aloxi, and I had Emend while on A/C, plus Ondansetron (which I didn't need). Those last three drugs are all anti-nausea, which is also one of the properties of the steroid.

      about 5 years ago
    • Ejourneys' Avatar
      Ejourneys

      PS: Chemo can also cause mouth sores, which would also interfere with eating. Let the team know if that is happening. There are various remedies for mouth sores, depending on severity.

      about 5 years ago
    • Norahs63's Avatar
      Norahs63

      Get her to drink ensure, works for me when I can't eat, but she should see her Dr.

      about 5 years ago
    • geekling's Avatar
      geekling

      Chemotherapy is NOT a stage of DISEASE.

      Chemotherapy is a treatment which is thought to be of help by the medical community.

      Because the theory is based on killing the growing cancer by poisoning it prior to the expiration of the human patient, the patient is ALWAYS weakened by its use.

      I did not mean by my suggestions that you can leave the doctor out of the picture.

      If you are going to lemonate or lime water, use the whole fruit and squeeze some fresh juice into a bottle or glass. It will last for a few days refrigerated and through a full day if not refrigerated but also not left outside in 80+ degree weather. The bottled extracts have additives which are entirely unhelpful to human well being and, with time, the extracts have little of the original goodness of the citrus fruit.

      about 5 years ago
    • Judt1940's Avatar
      Judt1940

      Baked potatoes and cream of wheat were my go tos. Don't put large amounts of anything in front of her and don't insist.

      about 5 years ago

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