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Cancer Answers: Kelly Tomita

QUESTION: Are you coping with cancer-related fatigue?

We all have experienced the feeling of being tired. If you are an individual living with cancer, you also know how it feels to have genuine fatigue.

Fatigue is an overwhelming lack of energy, extreme tiredness and constant state of lethargy that is frequently seen with cancer patients as a common side effect of treatment. However, unlike normal tiredness, fatigue may not improve even when receiving adequate amounts of sleep and rest.

The good news is that there are several ways to help you cope with and reduce cancer-related fatigue. One of the most important ways to manage fatigue is through maintaining a balanced, nutritious diet. Cancer treatment increases the nutritional demands of the body causing patients to require more protein and calories than usual. Inadequate food and nutrient intake can lead to fatigue, thus making balanced meals an essential part of your cancer treatment. Increasing your protein and calorie intake will help to repair body tissue and strengthen your immune system. It is also important to be sure to drink enough water to avoid dehydration. The recommendation for fluid consumption is approximately 8 cups daily.

Trying to incorporate healthy eating habits into our lives can be a challenge during cancer treatment. If possible, ask friends and family to assist you with grocery shopping, meal preparation and cooking. Stock your pantry and refrigerator with easy-to-prepare foods and healthy, ready-to-go convenience foods. Having premade or easy-to-cook meals and snacks available can help ensure adequate and balanced nutrition. Try to eat small, frequent meals and snacks throughout the day, approximately every two to three hours. Incorporate foods and drinks into your meals and snacks that are a good source of calories and protein. Nutritional supplements, such as a liquid meal replacement, can make it easier to consume when you are feeling fatigued.

Consuming nutritious food may not eliminate fatigue completely, but is vital in providing the body the energy it needs to heal.

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For more suggestions about eating well during cancer treatment, join us today, Tuesday, Feb. 13, for our Fighting Cancer with Your Fork class at 10 a.m. at the Mission Hope Cancer Center Conference Room. “Overcoming a Lost Appetite and Weight Loss” will be addressed. To make a reservation, call 219-4673.

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"Your Cancer Answers" is a weekly column produced by Marian Regional Medical Center, Cancer Program. Have a question? Email it to mariancancercare@dignityhealth.org.

As a registered dietitian with Marian Regional Medical Center, Kelly Tomita works with cancer patients at the Mission Hope Cancer Center to provide appropriate nutritional counseling, information and recommendations at no charge for cancer patients.

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