I am caring for my mum who has stage 4 bowel cancer. She has had no chemo in 5 weeks or so due to an adverse reaction. That was our final chemotherapy option. She cannot eat solid food, and I am running out of ideas to try. I have had success with home made bone broths, but that’s about it. She does have some Sustagen during the day also. Just wondering if anyone else had been through this and had some ideas about what I could try to feed her?
I'll start this by noting I am caring for my BFF. This is a recent diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and because she was so weak we were told prognosis was poor and chemo was off the table. We have now done 3 weeks of radiotherapy and have managed to build up her strength and increase her weight during that. Her prognosis is now longer than first thought and we are starting chemo next week. Below are some of the things I did to build up her weight.
Our dietician recommended making every mouthful count, so I kept trying different things. My friend would eat one thing, like mashed potato, then not want it again. So we have gone through a lot of options.
I found the quantity on the plate was putting my friend off eating, so I gave her meals on a side plate, just teaspoon amounts, usually about 3. For example a teaspoon of mashed potato and a piece of chicken breast about the size of a 50c piece and a similar size of pumpkin. She was able to face the smaller size and would get through that. Once I got her eating those small quantities I started to increase them very slowly so she didn't notice she was eating more.
I always ate with her as that seemed to encourage her to eat as well. If you do this I would advise watching what you eat as I put on a lot of weight! But she would eat something if I was eating it too.
You can get Sustagen in different flavours, and in the powder version you can mix it up, like 2 scoops of chocolate and 1 scoop of coffee for a mocha flavour. You can also add Sustagen Neutral to savoury foods. Up&Go is another good product to try and is easy to take with you if you're going out.
Try fruit juices like Nudie, which have veggies and vitamins added. We also add Hydralite to water for her to sip on - it replaces any lost nutrients and you can't drink too much of it, your body will just discard what it doesn't need.
Jellies are an option - I make up a sachet and put it into 5 small containers so she just grabs one out of the fridge to eat. I get vanilla ice cream bars at Woolies, they can be a bit hard to find, they're in the section with all the boxes of individual ice creams. Peters makes them. You can cut them into quarters. Brioche buns are sweet - you can buy small ones and cut those into quarters which is about two mouthfuls. Once my friend started eating sweet things, she was able to eat a few savoury things too. I got those cheese and biscuit packs from the supermarket for a quick snack for her. I also bought the carrot sticks - you can prep these yourself but I was looking for convenience. Small tubs of yoghurt - the ones for kids. Basically small things that she could get for herself if she felt like it, that were easy to open. If it took time to prepare, she wouldn't do it.
And after treatment I have a snack pack ready for her, with blueberries, a couple of small squares of hard cheese and a fruit juice. We started with about 6 blueberries and one square of cheese, and I slowly increased the quantity. Whenever I take her to appointments I always pack something for her to eat, so she rarely goes more than a couple of hours between eating. I include a few choices, such as a juice box and an Up&Go box, a brioche bun and a cheese and biscuit pack. She likes to be able to choose, it gives her some control.
I hope some of these ideas help.
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