I have a good friend whose father is a cancer survivor. A couple of weeks ago we met for coffee and she shared that when he was undergoing treatment for the cancer she was worried not only about him beating the disease, but also about the weight loss he might incur as a result of chemotherapy. It seems her father is a really thin man to begin with, and she was concerned that losing even a few pounds would really weaken his body.
Along with the oral chemotherapies that he sometimes took in addition to the intravenous ones, he was also given anti-nausea pills with strict orders to take them. She said he did, and he was happy and actually felt pretty good on most days. But you know what? He still lost weight—about 10-15 pounds or so, even with the pills. He told my friend that on many days, food just didn’t taste good to him. So even though he didn’t feel like he wanted to throw up, he just didn’t feel like eating anything.
Fortunately, my friend’s dad came through his chemotherapy treatments with a clean bill of health and is now in remission. And she said his appetite returned to normal pretty quickly and now he’s back to his usual weight.
But not everyone feels as good during chemotherapy as my friend’s dad. Many people still feel nausea while undergoing chemotherapy. Some throw up, and some, like my friend’s father, end up eating a lot less than usual and end up losing a lot of weight.
And what about the people who have to have surgery as part of their treatment and end up staying for several days in the hospital? Or the folks who spend all day at a clinic getting chemotherapy? These poor souls not only have to try to continue eating, but they have to rely on hospital food for their meals. With all due respect to the hard-working people in the hospital cafeterias, no one ever eats hospital food because they want to.
I decided to research this subject to find out why cancer patients have such a challenge with eating and weight loss. I found that many of them have an altered sense of smell and taste due to their treatments.