A diagnoses of malignant mesothelioma can be difficult, but most patients know that life goes on. After all, you have friends to socialize with and hobbies to enjoy. Additionally, visits with family members are as precious now as they ever were, if not more so.
However, one of the most common symptoms of mesothelioma and its treatment is fatigue, which can seriously impact your ability to engage in the world around you. At Mesothelioma Circle, we know that nutrition plays a major role in how fatigue develops, and that certain dietary adjustments can help you cope with this complication.
Fatigue affects nearly all cancer patients
Medical experts describe the fatigue that hurts cancer patients as being distinct from the type of fatigue that affects healthy people. In the latter case, rest and sleep are sufficient to relieve the problem. However, this dip in energy can be persistent among cancer patients, no matter how much rest they get. Furthermore, people with malignant diseases tend to get more tired after engaging in less activity than healthy individuals.
Doctors from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center (U-M) estimate that 96 percent of cancer patients develop fatigue. However, scientists are not entirely clear on how this complication develops. Experts say that it can result from both the malignancy and its treatment.
For example, physicians from the Cleveland Clinic say that both radiation and chemotherapy can cause fatigue. Cisplatin, a common medication for mesothelioma patients, is sometimes associated with fatigue. When it comes to radiation, the effects on one’s energy can accumulate over time as treatment progresses.
Pain, anemia and insomnia are also factors that may contribute to fatigue.
Cancer can impact body’s use of food
The National Cancer Institute also says that a malignant disease can negatively affect the way that your body uses food. Specifically, you may not be able to absorb as many nutrients from what you consume as possible. Additionally, the body may burn up more energy trying to fight the malignancy. A decrease in appetite due to nausea, vomiting or diarrhea will also affect how much energy you have.
We understand that when you are experiencing gastrointestinal issues, food may be the last thing on your mind. Of course, you still have to eat. The trick is to make changes in how and what you ingest. That way, you will have an easier time keeping food down and you may even be able to boost your energy levels.
The Cleveland Clinic estimates that cancer patients need to consume 15 calories for every pound of their weight. That should include between 0.5 grams and 0.6 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
At U-M, physicians recommend eating small and frequent meals, rather than three large ones. It can be useful to stock up on high-calorie, high-protein products, such as protein shakes, nutrition bars, meat, fish, and powdered milk. In order to cut down on the amount of energy you spend on food preparation, select items such as yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, peanut butter, string cheese, tuna and cream-based soups. You can also cut down on food preparation by asking friends and family members if they would be willing to help cook.
Also, we cannot overemphasize how important your medical team is. Be sure to discuss your concerns about fatigue with a dietitian. He or she can give you valuable tips on what to eat, how to cope with gastrointestinal problems and what vitamin supplements will be useful.