By Cheshire Que, RND, RN, RD
Being diagnosed with cancer is devastating. But I always fight with cancer patients no matter how seemingly hopeless their condition may be because when one is faced with something as dreadful as cancer, there is no way to deal with it but to go on battle mode lest you succumb to its clutches and entirely give up on life.
There is nothing mystical about it but I have seen people overcome aggressive types of cancers, even those who were diagnosed to be terminally ill. How? They fought through faith that God is able and willing to completely restore their health. With faith also comes the patience to undergo treatment, the persistence to make lifestyle changes and to be grateful for every progress, big or small.
Perhaps you have been diagnosed with colon cancer and have undergone surgery only to wake up with a stoma and a pouch on your abdominal area. A stoma or ostomy is a small opening that serves as a portal to allow the passage of body wastes in the form of feces or urine. It may be from the large intestine (colostomy), small intestine (ileostomy), or one that diverts the passage of urine from a defective bladder (urostomy).
Being a warrior now, you will meet various challenges as you adjust to having a colostomy or ileostomy bag attached to your abdomen. Therefore you will be needing weapons in the form of knowledge to combat not only cancer but to go through the difficult tasks you have to surpass in order to live a quality life alongside a temporary or permanent ostomy.
When you go into battle, you need to first and foremost know your enemies—blockage, odor, gas, and diarrhea.
Avoid the following foods that may cause bowel blockage:
First two weeks post-surgery: Whole grains, raw vegetables, fruits, and beans
After normal diet has resumed: Apple (unpeeled), cabbage, celery, coconut, corn, dried fruits, grapes, nuts, and popcorn
Avoid the following foods that may cause odor and gas:
Avoid the following foods that may cause diarrhea:
High fat and fried food
Milk and dairy products
Sugar or food with added sugar like desserts
Here are some tips on how to manage side effects:
- When diarrhea occurs, eat foods that will help thicken stools such as apple sauce, pureed peeled apple, banana, cheese (observe if you react then avoid), pasta, potato, rice, smooth peanut butter, and tapioca or cassava.
- To neutralize fecal odor, eat buttermilk, cranberry juice, kefir, parsley, and yogurt.
- If you develop an undersirable reaction to certain foods, discontinue consumption and allow a period of two to three weeks before gradually reintroducing it to your diet in smaller portions.
Don’t fight this battle alone. Arm yourself with the appropriate nutrition intervention through the guidance of a registered nutritionist-dietitian.