Sunday, June 22, 2008

Malnutrition meets Radiation

This is what happens when you think you can make it without a feeding tube in place when you do the radiation treatments. Now If I would have been overweight, maybe I could have gotten by with it. But I have a high metabolism and did not get so lucky. I was extremely dehydrated and was loosing my mental faculties. I was in week 6 and started out with 150 pounds. I weighed 123 in this picture. Tis a far cry from the normal pic on the right.

It cost me a night in the hospital and some pain, but I am now on the road to recovery. I consume 7-8 cans of food each day via a peg tube and I am gaining back my weight and have my mind back. I was home from the hospital about three days and took a look in the mirror. It was only then I seen how horrible I was looking. I had seen myself before, but my mind was not processing information properly. I felt like I was ready to go 6 feet under. I think I was closer that I thought. But WAS is a big word now. It is all in the past. I am doing very well now and the Doctors expect a full recovery, not only from this, but from the cancer as well.

I have 5 more treatments to go and then I am DONE. My neck is getting burned and very dry. This is now my major area of concern. I have the creams to put on it, but they only do so much. I have seen a few people walk out of the last treatment kinda fried. I hope that does not happen to me. We shall see by the end of next week. The Doctor had a hard time finding the tumors. I had to find them for him last week. But this week, I can not even find the tumors any more. Good sign!
It is amazing that the very machine that can cure the cancer, can also cause so much discomfort and so many side affects. Anything from loss of taste to skin burns to depression and malnutrition. Thank Goodness all these things we are able to recover from. But still, the irony of it all astounds me at times.


Jeanne said...

John--thanks for putting up this post. Sorry to see you looking so thin, but glad to hear that you are starting to bounce back.

I've had radiation several times (well, FIVE times), and the side effects have varied tremendously depending on what part of my body was radiated.

I think the neck is pretty sensitive. Have you checked in with the Cheeky Librarian? I think she had radiation for her cancer, which was in her cheek (obviously).

Here's the link to her blog:

Take care,


Teresa Hartman said...

Thinking about you, John. I went on baby food myself about midway through radiation, then even that was too rough on the mouth. I still take a protein supplement in milk daily (whey, not soy) that I order off of Amazon - at the last of the treatments and when I started healing, that was all I drank for food. I lost some weight, but since my throat was not in the radiation port, I didn't go on the stomach tube. Those things are life-savers - I am glad you have one, so you can get your strength back! The trick will be to get used to food in the mouth again (was for me, and I never had the tube - food without taste was, and still is, something to get used to) - but food equals strength and life. Stay close to your nurses - they are the ones that will really help you cope with the side effects. Face it - they have seen and dealt with it all, so they may have some tricks up their sleeves that will help you out. Mine told me that the two weeks after radiation stopped would be the worst - I think they were right, but since I was at home and didn't have to clean the soothing cream off my face any more for treatment, I didn't care. Know you are being thought of, and that I am sending strength to you. Let me know if I can help with any information for you or your healthcare team. You will be on the other side of this before you know it! Check out my 2006 posts on my blog when I was going through radiation, if they will be of any help to you. And if they haven't given you cream like Thermazene (spelling may be incorrect) for the burns, ask for it - that helped me way more than any other cream, even when the burn went to a higher level. Great news that the tumors are shrinking - all this drama will be so worth it!

Anonymous said...

Hey, I've been there and done that... You wont gain much weight with the tube, but you shouldn't loose much more either... I waited like you, almost too long to finally ask for a feeding tube. They made it out like you could get one in a minutes notice. But I was informed it would take about 5 more days. I went from 165 lbs to 120 lbs. They also don't tell you that you have to leave the tube in a min. of 6 weeks. But you will start gaining you weight back about 2 months after your treatments. Now the taste buds take much longer, but they do come back (but I had chemo at the same time, and that kills your taste for food).

As for the burnt neck.... its part of it. Just keep the high-dollar creams on it and it will go away in about 2 weeks after your last treatment.

My email is if you would like to know what to expect from here! I know that everyone has their own story and I don't share my very often but hey, if it can help, I will!!!