Renal Cell Live!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Yum, Yum - Part 1

I have lived with one constant since diagnosis in 2000 - much of the time my appetite is suppressed. Often I will happily cook all afternoon and wait with anticipation for dinner, only to find that I'm not very hungry when it comes time to eat. It's not that I can't taste things, or that what I'm eating doesn't taste good, I just can't eat very much.

Over the past 3 years I've had two especially trying periods: first, in early 2005, when I tried the high-dose interleukin 2 therapy, and second, in late 2005, when I was on Sutent. High-dose IL2 is a very aggressive, unpleasant therapy that requires hospitalization and constant monitoring. One of the first things to go is the appetite; often, people are too nauseated to eat anything. I was lucky - I could eat and keep food down, but nothing tasted good. So I didn't eat much for two months while we tried that treatment.

While on Sutent I experienced lots of side effects besides internal bleeding. Nausea and diarrhea were chief among those side effects. I was hungry, and I could eat, but very little stayed down for long - generally within 10 minutes I was in the bathroom vomiting. I worked with a nutritionist at Cleveland Clinic to try to figure out how to combat this. I tried smoothies, the "BRAT" diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast), and eating 5 small meals daily. Nothing worked; of course I had to go off the drug eventually anyway, but I went through another 3 months of not being able to eat.

One rather amusing thing that happened while on IL2: I wasn't able to sleep much and couldn't concentrate, so watched a lot of TV to pass the time. One night I was watching the Food Network (tailgating/BBQ contests) and a nurse asked what was on. She laughed when I told her and commented, "Everyone on this floor is on IL2 or some form of chemo. Almost nobody can eat. Ninety percent of the time, when the TV is on, they're watching the Food Network."

One can dream, can't one?



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