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Eating during chemo
3 Posts
My best friend just had her second chemo treatment for Breast Cancer. She is so so sick. She is finding her mouth very dry so even when she tries to force herself to eat something like a cracker or toast it makes her gag because she has no saliva. Her doctor has advised her to stay away from dairy so we haven’t tried Ensure. Any suggestions would be helpful? Thank you in advance.
10 Replies
PinkPal‍ Thanks for reaching out. Chemo is very dehydrating. Staying hydrated is critical. There are various things that people to help with the inside of the mouth. Sometimes people develop white spots in their mouth. When I was going through chemo I used to use Biotene to help take care of my mouth. 

As for Ensure, I read that there is a plant-based one that is dairy free.

As for the nausea, if the pills are not working, this is information to share with the oncologist. Something can be done to help.

2094 Posts
PinkPal‍  Boy...can i relate.  I had no idea how brutal dry mouth was until i was in chemo. 

 I agree with cancertakesflight‍ , I used Biotene - it was a little pricey but worth every penny.  It can be found in any drug store - over the counter.  It really made a difference.

I also found that the dry mouth eased up after a number of days - until the next round of chemo.

Here are some other suggestions -  I tried these but found Biotene to be the most effective.

You are a great friend!  Kim

Managing dry mouth

If you have dry mouth during chemotherapy, talk to you doctor. Artificial salivas are available that can help.

Other tips to ease dry mouth:

  • Sucking on hard candy or chewing sugarless gum can help your salivary glands produce more saliva.
  • Sip water or other sugarless drinks often. Keep a container of water nearby at all times. Drinking a lot of water while you're eating will make chewing and swallowing easier. It may also make the food taste better.
  • Use a straw when you drink.
  • Take small bites and chew your food well.
  • Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic drinks and commercial mouthwashes.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Avoid spicy and salty foods. They can irritate a dry mouth.
  • Eat soft, moist foods that are cool or at room temperature. Put fruits and vegetables in a blender to soften and smooth them. Try soft-cooked chicken and fish, cereal soaked in milk, and sugarless popsicles. Avoid foods that stick to the roof of your mouth, such as peanut butter.
  • Moisten food with broth, soup, sauces, gravy, or yogurt.
  • Use a cool mist humidifier at night.
  • Keep your mouth clean. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush and rinse your mouth before and after eating with plain water or a mild mouth rinse (1 quart water, mixed with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking soda). Regularly floss your teeth.
12 Posts
Not certain which chemo she is getting. I have just completed 6 cycles with DOCEtaxel and carboplatin with 2 biologics. I had days where I did not really want to eat, but knew I had too. Dry foods were like eating cardboard or sawdust. I found the best thing was just drinking warm broth.  My appetite was most affected by reflux from the dexamethasone and the chemo, Pepcid did help, as well as pure ginger cubes when I felt a bit nauseated. I also made bone broth In my instant pot when I felt good and froze it in ice cube trays, then put them in a ziplock bag. That way I could have that warmed up in a cup to drink.  Homemade soups with cauliflower, sweet potato, potato were also appealing and easier to eat.  Constipation also has a very detrimental effect on appetite, make sure that the gut stays as healthy as possible. Hydration is key but it is very difficult to drink when you just feel rotten. I had to change my fluid variety often, herbal teas, lemonade, water, flat gingerale, non alcoholic ginger beer, otherwise it was difficult to get enough fluids as you just tire of certain things. 
21 Posts
My dentist recommended Previ-dent 5000 toothpaste to use during chemo. It was great as it prevented mouth sores, dry mouth, and enamel loss.

I survived the chemo treatments with hardly any side effects except for hair loss and being tired for a few days after treatment. I had no trouble with appetite and ate everything in moderation, and limit acidic foods like oranges and tomatoes .

The main issue was a lot of stomach pain after taking the anti-nausea pills on day 2 and 3 after chemo. My doctor said that dexamethasone is a steroid that caused my stomach pain. It eats away at your stomach if your stomach is empty. 

My doctor told me not to take it and prescribed another pill for nausea.  So I did not take dexamethasone for the remainder of the chemo treatments.
However, I did not have any nausea at all during these rounds of chemo so no need for any pills.

If you have stomach pain in the days right after the anti-nausea pills , talk to your doctor about it. Maybe your doctor can prescribe something else.
501 Posts
I too had to change my toothpaste to something milder. Mouth sores got me bad. Dispute rinsing all the time.
Appetite is just starting to come back. Food just starting to not taste like cardboard. I had to be reminded to eat for the last 5 months. And with the month sores some days I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Boost helps. I'm in week 3 from last chemo. Mouth not normal yet and food not yet tasting right, but getting there, so I am hopeful. Constipation still no improvement, but that may be related to new tumor as doc thinks its not normal to suffer so much. I am a fan of dexamethasone, it was the only thing that stopped my nausea and gave me some energy. Although I suffered from no sleep and some rage. I was on doxorubicin. 
Not sure there is anything helpful in there but wanted to share.
10 Posts
I also had trouble swallowing, some problems with dairy and issues with how horribly everything tasted. There was so few things I could tolerate the taste of. Sweet and butter really brought out the horrible🙄. I am 3 1/2 months past the last docetaxel and food finally tastes mostly like it should, I still have bad aftertaste some of the time. These few things were my lifesaver ( some may never be eaten or drunk again😉):
Vanilla Chai Smoothie. Bolthouse.... made with soy milk 
Mango juice
Coconut sugar 

Going to chemo an hours drive away I would make a smoothie at home and have it in a travel mug to sip on during chemo. I took chemo in the initial Covid lockdown and there was no food options open that worked and it was a huge process to find a washroom even open.

One other tip for ‘chemo goopy, crusty eyes’ , I used 'Boogie Wipes' meant for childrens noses to keep my eyes clear and clean They are saline wipes and were gentle enough to clean without making my eyes sore from repeated washing
All the best
85 Posts
I am not sure whaf type of chemo your friend is on but I am doing AC-PACL (aka AC-T) for breast cancer right now and during the AC portion I had to be extremely intentional about what I ate. I had to really think about whaf I felt like eating and then eat it within a short period of time or my appetite could change entirely. Peanut butter toast was a favourite of mine many days. You mentioned her dry mouth being severe so maybe instead of sticky PB, jam or margarine (since ber doctor has recommended no dairy) may help with some added moisture?

Also, as others have said hydration is also critical. I drank 1-2 Gatorade a day plus close to 2L of water when I was on the AC portion to keep myself hydrated. Gatorade does have a nice bit of sugar though and I tried to keep it to 1 a day at my doctor’s request.

My dry mouth only lasted a couple days after each treatment but I sucked on hard candies and found that very helpful + rinsing with the baking soda/salt water mouth wash someone else has already posted.

I’m not having the same issues on the Taxel portion of the chemo, so if your friend happens to be on a similar regime hopefully relief will only be a couple treatments away (if not sooner).
166 Posts
The living kitchen - Healing recipes to support your body during cancer treatment and recovery. The recipes are coded to help manage specific side effects of cancer and treatments. I use it all the time and have gifted it to other cancer patients. 
743 Posts
I was warned about dry mouth so
started with biotene mouthwash twice a day the week before I started chemo and then everyday after and probably for a month after my last treatment. I did not get any sores or struggle with dry mouth. There is also a spray you can use. The mouthwash is very soothing and mild tasting (not at all like regular mouthwash). 

What a great person you are for reaching out on behalf your friend. I hope she can find some relief. 
22 Posts
The pills I took during Chemo worked very well for me, I was actually surprised they worked so well. (SCLC) Here they are:

Nausea - Metonia  10 mg.
Heartburn - Mylan Pantoprazole Magnesium 40 mg.

I took them as soon as I would feel "something" not quite right with my guts, I did not wait for full on discomfort (Which I never had, even once).

I would take both at the same time, since I didn't necessarily know which I would need, when I felt "something" not quite right with my guts. Sometimes twice a day, usually only once. Most days not at all. I always took with a small glass of milk, which (dairy) I have fortunately never had a problem with.

I had some fairly "rough" days, but never experienced anything really "awful". Knock on wood.

I had 6 rounds consisting of 3 days of chemo followed by 18 days of rest. I finished about a month ago. Each session was worse than the last.

Just letting you know my experience, everyone is different of course.

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