After cancer treatment I still can't gain a pound. What should I do?

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I had cancer over a year ago and I can't gain a pound? It was tonsil cancer. I'm free of it now, but I lost weight while going through treatment. I fed myself through a tube. Afted treatment I had to have it removed right away due to an infection in my stomach by the bubble inside of course connected to the tube. I feel sick a lot ever since. I eat but not a lot so I started eating a lot of little meals. I'm just worried because I've gotten real weak. What should I do? I'm seeing my Doctor at the end of the month.

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Befun, this is an issue best asked to your doctor.

But I do remember back decades I had lost quite a bit of weight after having surgery. I found by drinking Carnation Instant Breakfast, the packets, helped me to slowly put back on the weight. The chocolate was pretty good :)
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Reply to freqflyer
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I would suggest something like Ensure Plus for the nutrition and the calories. It is what I had to give to my DH to keep his weight stable. As his meals became smaller, I had to pack as much nutrition and calories as possible into every meal.

My solution for him was to make him Hot Cocoa using the Ensure Plus as a base and adding ice cream. Bless his heart, he never lost a pound in the 2+ years that I had to do that.
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Reply to RayLinStephens
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You need to see ur Doctor before then.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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I’m sorry you are having trouble recovering from the cancer treatment.
Recently someone told me that they were having trouble gaining after two major surgeries and they tried Ensure Plus. I wouldn’t think that was the healthiest thing but it worked for them. When my aunt began to lose a lot of weight from Parkinson’s she said she had to eat bread. It may have worked for awhile but she is less than 100 lbs now. Personally I would add probiotics daily, make sure you are getting protein like eggs and fish. Bone broth. Healing fruits and veggies and healthy fats like avocado, nuts and olive oil and coconut oil. Since you are weak the Ensure Plus might be the easiest for you. Plus the bone broth. I hope you can get help from your doctor visit. Try to see a top rated gastroenterologist. Pay attention to how you feel after you eat something. You should feel better. Stronger. Nourished. I hope you feel better soon.
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Reply to 97yroldmom
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Dear befun1959,

Hopefully you can see your doctor sooner. You have a right to be concerned. Most people need at least 1200 calories a day. It was hard for my dad to put on weight after the stroke. He just couldn't eat enough because of the side effects of the medications. I wonder if that might be the case in your situation as well.

I tried to offer my dad Ensure, Boost and additional snacks and all his favorite foods. It's hard sometimes to maintain one's weight after a major illness. I hope you can find something that works for you.
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Reply to cdnreader
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I’m having a similar problem. I’ve been scanned, probed and questioned, to no avail, by a gastrointestinal doc. Everything in my GI tract looks normal I’m told. Go see my internist, I’m told.

I lost 40 pounds in two months! And get zero suggestions as to what causes me to have retching, vomiting and nausea. So I’m not a simple obvious galaxy of symptoms and doctors hate that.

I’ve been in this condition since February. So it’s up to me. I’m doing the same as you, eating 4-5 times a day, after spending a month figuring out what I won’t vomit up. But it’s not static what makes me sick so it’s sudden vomiting regularly, in public, in my sleep, etc.

I’m not sure if I’ve gained weight but I’ve gotten slightly stronger over the last month. It’s just keeping down a little food and digesting it. It is hard I know, to eat when you don’t feel like it.

The infection you had in your stomach around the feeding tube site could be affecting your absorption from the food. That’s a guess. Also, are you on a lot of medication? Your poor stomach has been through an ordeal, it might just need to heal.

I’m slowly having a few ‘good’ days when I do keep some food down (not much or up it comes)! I did try some liquid nutrition in bottles, (Carnation) it was more something for extra nutrition for athletes. Up it came.

I have totally lost faith in the US medical system. I’ve been misdiagnosed or told DEAL WITH IT. I’ve begun to deal with it myself.

I suspect part of my problem was being on too many medications. I’m cutting out all but the necessary ones.

Of course you’ve had a completely different experience but we’re both underweight and what we try to eat isn’t helping us. Not Yet anyway.

The strength issues will slowly get better if you just keep moving. I have a Rollator and just shuffling around the house with that has strengthened me slightly. Apparently recovery is SLOW.
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Reply to HolidayEnd
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Ask your Dr for a referral to a dietician, they can guide you to healthy high calorie foods. Be sure an ask for one that has experience with cancer survivors and the unique challenges faced coming off a feed tube and throat treatment.

Also, ask about physical therapy to help with the weakness. Cancer treatments leave a body in chaos and it takes time and proper nutrition. One person said a probiotic, that is a must along with a prebiotic, i order from Swansons vitamins online and save a ton of money, your system needs to rebuild everything at this point to do what it was created to do. Be patient and proactive with your recovery.

God has obviously blessed you with healing, I am doing a happy dance for you right now. You are a survivor and this too shall pass.

I have sent you a pm with the brand etc.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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I can't recommend Ensure or Boost because these products are pure garbage. Also, cancer feeds on sugar. So it's good to cut out sugar. Doctors have no to practically no training in nutrition. A nutritionist has training in nutrition. 

Homemade yogurt, avocados, and nuts are healthy and calorie-dense. Of the three, only yogurt contains sugar, but it's only a little bit and the probiotics should have eaten up most of it. (You should be able to tell by the taste.) When you make your yogurt, make sure you get a yogurt starter that doesn't contain maltodextrin. I make coconut yogurt using a probiotic supplement and raw, unrefined coconut sugar (1 can coconut cream, 1 tablespoon coconut sugar, and 1 VSL#3 probiotic).

Then there's chocolate, which is calorie dense. Most contain sugar. Montezuma’s Absolute Black 100% Dark Chocolate with Cocoa Nibs is pure chocolate.

Bananas are also healthy and calorie dense. They contain a bit more sugar though.

If you want something such as Boost or Ensure without all the junk, then you can get one of Haagen-Dazs' five-ingredient ice creams, which contain no corn syrups, gums, etc. It's vanilla bean ice cream contains only cream, skim milk, cane sugar, egg yolks, and ground vanilla beans. Add a multi-vitamin and you should have all the fat, sugar, and "nutrients" that Boost and Ensure have. You can also add the 100% chocolate to get chocolate flavor or use Haagen-Dazs' strawberry ice cream (which contains only cream, skim milk, strawberries, cane sugar, and egg yolks) to get strawberry flavor. Still, cancer is known to feed on sugar. It's best to avoid it entirely.

I hope you get better. Look into the Paleo Diet. It has a lot of recipes that are very low in sugar and carbs and high in fat and protein. Make sure you drink a lot of water too. Most of our body is made of water. We loose a lot of weight and become very weak when we're dehydrated.

To get my calories, I make macadamia nut butter with 100% chocolate. I slice the chocolate into little bits and set aside. Add the nuts to a food processor. Mix the nuts until smooth enough (2-3 minutes). Then add the chocolate and mix again (2-5 seconds). Macadamia nuts mix very quickly and aren't high in omega-6's like some of the other nuts. I eat the nut butter alone or with a banana. Sometimes I wrap it in a Nuco cinnamon coconut wrap, which I get at a nearby food store and can be bought online from Thrive Markets. The wrap contains only coconut and cinnamon. 
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Reply to Subduedjoy
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As far as nutritional content in Nutritional Drinks: you are looking to gain weight, if you can get it down, drink it. Don't worry about nutritional values.
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Reply to Sunset3339
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I battle with this myself though not for lack of holding anything down the way it sounds like Holidayend does. My problem is probably more like yours Befun, I have no apatite and have to force myself to eat (easier said then done) for periods of time, I don't absorb nutrients, store fat or absorb nutrients. I have Lyme Disease and as a result go through these periods of time where I have these weight issues. I have found that making my own milk keifer and then drinking that in shakes, my favorite is banana and dark cherries whizzed up in the Nutri Bullet with the milk keifer, helps repopulate my gut with the stuff it needs to function properly. MK also provides a lot of nutrients and helps my body absorb them, many people who are lactose intolerant can drink MK even because of the the way the grains convert the lactose. As someone else mentioned bone broth (I make it in my Insta Pot) try chicken soup made with bone broth, miso soup and or salad dressing and there are specialized sport drinks similar to the Ensure idea but better quality and designed to absorb easier, more expensive too as well as sport electrolyte drinks worth trying. The electrolyte drinks in particular might help you Holidayend, it has a dramatic benefit for people with food poisoning and the kind of symptoms you are having because that depletes your system even faster of electrolytes and hydration needed to function, it can make a dramatic change in your energy quickly when you can't keep anything down.

Then while focusing on rebuilding your system from the inside out a bit, I'm back to the keifer, miso soup, bone broth, chicken soup etc apatite and nourishment building, also work on your body from the outside in by exercising. I don't mean go run a mile or work out in the gym but just doing a little regular exercising be it yoga or lifting soup cans, things that seem far too basic to you to do anything but are things you have the energy to do even 5, then, 10, 15, 20 min a day, build up as you can or get in the pool which is great for this but not always easy logistically. As much as you can without over doing it or overwhelming yourself trying to re-fire your muscles and then re-build muscle a little at a time because it all feeds into the body process of food and energy. None of this replaces trying to get to the bottom of why and what is happening in your body of course, see the doctor and any specialists they want to send you to, if you can get them to send you to PT and get it covered by insurance, do it! Just be warned that it may take a long time and lots of hoops to get the the root of whats wrong and as someone else mentioned they may not really find the answer at all so I encourage you to be proactive as you have been by asking this question and address this on your own at the same time, no point in suffering longer while you wait for doctors to do their thing, the worst that can happen is you don't find things that help you either but that wont put you any further behind then you will be just waiting for the medical world to figure things out and you are more likely to at least help yourself a little but maybe you will help yourself a lot too.

Take care of yourself, I know just how much this kind of problem affects your entire life.
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Reply to Lymie61
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