Iron Deficiency and Fatigue

Frequent Contributor

Iron Deficiency and Fatigue

It'd have been nice to know that Chemo was going to screw up my body's ability to absorb Iron...and the direct relationship between Iron and Fatigue.
Take it from someone who didn't do his research and spent the 2 months of Chemo and Rad mostly in the couch while a backyard was dying to be made beatiful at our new house.
Now Head and Neck cancer patients have the problem that Sooner or Sooner eating (as in appettite) and swallowing (as in serious pain) will cut down the number of calories you can put in your body.
Foods like shredded spinach cooked in butter or your favorite sauce must be an essential part of your diet. Broccoli is also iron rich and was swallowable during my worst of times. Cereals like Total-iron rich-perhaps with hot chocolate or morning coffee would have made a good choice for me.
I've read (I know, don't believe everything you google) that chemo can stop your body's ability to absorb iron by as much as 90%! Now let's be fair and question whether it's the actual stuff they jack you with or just the side effects-including loss of appetite and difficulty swallowing.
One thing you want to do is keep an eye on that blood test you get at every chemo. Google what each item is and do mind everything to do with your red blood cell count and oxygen absorption.
Now apparently there is such a thing as complications arising from too much Iron intake. I really don't see this being a problem while going thru chemo and Rad. I'd use The State of My Energy (as in Fatigue) and I'd use those blood test numbers (as in red blood cell count dropping) as a marker and make Broccoli, Iron rich Cereals and Spinach...and whatever Iron Rich foods I can swallow, a must have item at least twice in my daily tortuous feed sessions.
Now I refused to have a feed tube installed (ask yourself what business does a 62 year old cancer patient has wearing a Speedo bathing suit, but that's totally me-and a feed tube was simply aesthetically intolerable) but I've read that even with direct to stomach feed there might be Iron absorption issues.
You do not want to assume a feed tube guarantees proper diet. Listen to your body, talk to your health practitioners (after all they Practice on You)...and get as much Iron as you need to keep Fatigue and Anemia at bay during and after your treatment.
Now, exactly a month after my last Chemo/Rad I'm maybe a week into this Iron rich diet thing...and its made all the difference in my energy level.
Regards and find laughter

Joe AzTrucker

Cancer Council Team

Re: Iron Deficiency and Fatigue

Wow, that sounds like a real balancing act with the iron @AzjoetruckerSmiley Surprised


Have you got it smoothed out now?





Online Community Manager

Frequent Contributor

Re: Iron Deficiency and Fatigue

Hi Kate...I believe so.  Took thee weeks of ferrous sulfate pills 2x daily and Geritol multivitamin 3x per week.
    Fatigue is now behind me, thanfully!
   Regards, JoeAztrucker.
Post new topic
Talk to a health professional
Cancer Council support and information 13 11 20Mon - Fri 9am - 5pm
Cancer Information and Support

Online resources and support

Access information about support services, online resources and a range of other materials.

Caring for someone with cancer?

Find out what resources and support services are available to assist you.