I was in the clinic the other day and the snack cart rolled by. I'm always mystified by that cart. I wonder why people with cancer are being offered every processed food option known to man as they sit and wait for a chemo infusion: Oreos, chips, apple juice, soda and (my personal favorite) M&Ms. My six-year-old thinks heaven is having a cart roll up to your chair, offering treats and a sugary drink for no apparent reason, but this is not a boon for those getting chemo or on dexamethasone. On dex, too much sugar can even cause "steroid diabetes," either temporarily while in treatment, or permanently if someone is already susceptible to it. Doctors, nurses and even hospital nutritionists can tread lightly when it comes to diet recommendations for cancer patients. When I was first diagnosed, I asked the nutritionist what I should eat to better my chances at effective treatment and recovery. "I'll eat kale all day long if you tell me to," I promised (and for a few days following diagnosis really meant it), wanting anything to stop the cancer from growing. She looked at me with a blank stare and then reviewed neutropenic options (i.e. canned soup) with me for my upcoming transplant. I understand why there are not strict guidelines - patients aren't feeling stellar before, during or after treatment. They sometimes have a hard time eating anything at all, so many times the recommendation is to "eat what you want." But food is still chemistry and I'm a foodie to boot. So here's my epicurean clinic fantasy: a rolling fresh juice bar/taco cart/souvlaki stand. I may even ask for another bag of electrolytes to wait for that to come around twice. Who ever said infusions should be replaced by oral proteasome inhibitors anyway?
about the author
Myeloma survivor, patient advocate, wife, mom of 6. Believer that patients can help accelerate a cure by weighing in and participating in clinical research. Founder of HealthTree Foundation (formerly Myeloma Crowd).