What I Ate During Chemo

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Cancer, Cancer, Cancer!

There is so much to learn for anyone going through cancer treatment, and one very important topic is nutrition.

Fighting the beast is a complicated journey, but the best foods to eat while on chemo, shouldn’t be complicated.

What I Ate During Chemo

Omgosh, it hasn’t even been that long since my diagnosis and even I’m tired of hearing about it.


Chances are if you know someone going through chemo, you know someone who is having a hard time eating.

Graphic: what i ate during chemo

My dearly departed Aunt Mimi and FIL ascribed to the philosophy that if you can eat, even when sick, you’re going to be okay.

So, what foods should a patient eat during chemo (and radiation)? 

What did I eat?


Well, that’s partially true. 

While nutrition is important for overcoming chemo and offering fuel to repair cells, sometimes, a chemo patient simply needs calories.

Read that again.

No shaming folks into what’s good for them, if all they can do is simply get something down.

The time will come again when they can eat nutritionally sound meals; until then – whatever it takes to get calories.

Casseroles and huge meals are fine for caregivers and family, but chemo patients need something altogether different.

Foods for cancer patients can vary wildly.

Follow their lead.

Gently offer a variety of foods, but listen to their needs.

What follows is my experience and what I called my chemo diet.

For the first couple of days after my first chemo treatment, I was good.

Eating, napping, hydrating.  Repeat.

About three days post treatment, I developed chemo mouth.

Let’s see if I can adequately describe chemo mouth sores:

* When my mouth was empty, it was sore and tender to the touch, but not horrible.

* When I drank water, my mouth let me know that I best trod carefully.  Don’t be swilling stuff willy-nilly, yo.

* When I ate anything from tiny oyster crackers, that dissolved quickly, to mashed bananas and applesauce, my mouth protested by throwing kerosene around and lighting a match while running around knifing all the raw surfaces.

Yep, like that.

So what the hell to you feed someone going through chemo?

Is there a cancer diet that comes in a handout at your doc visits?

That’s a big fat no.

Most docs have very little training in cancer patient nutrition, so you’re left to your own understanding or research.

Which sucks – cause you’re sick and now you gotta educate yourself – or have someone in your corner taking care of this piece.

Here’s how I approached what I ate during chemo:

#1: Everything that went in my mouth had to be nutrient-packed fuel to build new cells. Period.

#2: When #1 failed, I went with high calorie, soothing, foods. 

Calories are as needed as fuel to make sure my body had the energy to heal from chemo.

When I was at my sickest, when I could barely eat anything, when I was losing a pound a day – all that mattered was that I ate something.

My top list of foods I ate during chemo:

These foods not only nourished my body, but they also fed my soul:

1: Strawberry smoothies.

Strawberry Smoothie with red straw

This smoothie could also have added nut butters or anything else high in nutrition, including other fruits, as long as there were no chunks or even the hint of a chunk.

Chunk = pain. 

No chunks, pls…k…thx.

Using cold frozen strawberries helped ease my pain, and ensured nutrition and much needed fiber.

If you are lactose intolerant, use almond milk.

2: Mashed bananas covered in cold applesauce.

Hello, baby food!

If you know me, you know I despise a ripe banana.  I like ’em on the green side.

So, in order to eat a banana, and partake of its nutritional goodness, I had to let it get spots before mashing.


I looked at it in the bowl and thought I’d hurk, so I covered it in cold applesauce.

While not particularly delish, it worked.

I got it all down.

3: Naan.

Yes, this flies in the face of “it needs to be mush” before I can eat it.

Yet, the softness of Naan allowed me to chew very small bites at the front of my mouth, before I swallowed.

It did produce a fiery pain, but it was worth the carbs!

4: Prunes, when I could stand them.

Moving your bowels during chemo treatments can be difficult because of the drugs they give you, and high fiber prunes got the job done.

You’d be surprised at how much attention is given to poo when you’re going through treatment.

Ewwww! and YAY!!!!

5: Pudding

Some folks will develop an aversion to sweets while on chemo, but if they don’t: pudding!

This cake filling is made with pudding and could be ideal!

cake filling in a blue bowl

It’s extremely light, has lots of milk protein (build those cells!), and you can adjust the pudding to whatever flavor you prefer.

Or Jello, which I can’t stand regardless of chemo.

With lots of whipped cream!

6: Milk

Milk has easy protein. Protein is essential for building cells.

Chemo kills dem cells, so you need an easy protein to rebuild.

7: Scrambled eggs

Scrambled eggs were my BFFs during chemo mouth. 

Easy to digest. 

Easy to make. 

No chewing required.

If your patient can stand it, throw a bit of cheese in the mix, or some milk.

8: Oatmeal

Oatmeal is another meal high in fiber.

Throw in fruit puree and it’s comforting for body and soul (if you’re an oatmeal lover).

9: Easy meals that didn’t work for me, but have for others:

* Ice cream bucket and one spoon.

* Pureed soups.

* Veggies pureed into soups.

10: My favorite go-to meal after chemo was homemade mac and cheese.

Mac and Cheese in bowl

Hold the crunchy breadcrumb topping.

The week prior to each chemo treatment, I would feel pretty good – on the upswing – so I’d make a few meals that could be eaten after chemo.

We lived on mac and cheese.

Lots of protein and carbs, but mostly it was a love hug that assured me I’d get through this storm.

What about supplement drinks?

I tried both Ensure and Boost supplement drinks, but found them difficult to get down.

The texture was fine – it was the taste I found hard to stomach.

Vanilla is least offensive when it’s cold.  Really Cold.  Very cold.

graphic: What I Ate During Chemo

While my docs and I were on the same page about supplement drinks (eat real food first), if you’re not getting your nutritional needs met, have a can.

What about fruits and veggies?

This is such a personal choice. I found it hard to eat salads or anything crunchy, but you should try and find a way to include them in your diet.

* Nothing acidic, like the Cuties I love so much.

You think your mouth is trying to kill you now, throw in some salad dressing or BBQ sauce and see what the hell happens.

Yep, speaking from personal experience.


* Plain baked potatoes, cut into small bite-sized pieces.

You can try butter or sour cream, if you’re feeling bold.

I couldn’t handle pepper or any seasonings.

* Smoothies are a great way to incorporate fruits and veggies.

If you can handle a smoothie, here are a few to try (you can omit any offending ingredient and add soothing yogurt or bananas).

CAVEAT: Blend the holy hell outta that smoothie! No chunks!

Berry Smoothie

Berry Smoothie in glass

Green Smoothie

green smoothie in a glass

Strawberry Blueberry Smoothie

Strawberry Blueberry Smoothie with a red straw

Eating through chemo mouth proved to be almost the most difficult challenge I faced during chemo. 

I lost weight quickly simply because I couldn’t tolerate anything in my mouth.

I looked at eating as my job – because it became clear early on that if I didn’t eat, my health was going to suffer immensely.

I tried to eat something every two hours, and every two hours I fought with myself to EAT. 

Cause you know, if I ate, everything was gonna be okay. I wanted to be okay, so I tortured myself to EAT.

While experiencing chemo mouth, most days it would take me an hour to eat one scrambled egg. So you can see why I say there is NO SHAME in getting anything into your body during treatment.

Obviously, this list is not exhaustive and is only based purely on my experience.

I know some of you probably have great suggestions to add to this list. 

graphic What Do You Eat When You're Trying To Survive Chemo?

Get to it!

Tell us!



Original Post: July 3, 2015 ~ Updated Post: January 16. 2020

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  1. What a bummer; I never heard of “chemo-mouth” before. And still your writing is upbeat and funny. You are SOMETHING, Lady. Hope you are back to eating whatever you want really soon.

    • BOB! Thanks, bud. I feel like if the funny ever leaves me, then you best get out the funeral dress. There have some spectacularly funny cancer moments, but this ain’t one of them. Thankfully, this side-effect lasts for about a week after chemo, so I have two weeks of catching up on my eating before the next round. 4 down, 2 to go.

  2. I’m just glad it’s almost over for you! I think you have helped a lot of people with your tips and great humor. Long after this has gone away and becomes just an unpleasant memory, people who need your advice and support (who knows? maybe even me!) will come here to read about what to expect and take comfort from it all.

  3. So sorry for you having to go thru this. 3 yrs ago my husband was dx with head/neck cancer. at base of tongue so he had radiation..directly into mouth..with a little chemo served on the side. You describe the mouth issues perfectly. We tried all of the exact things you list too. To him, the chemo made everything taste like metal so I cooked only in my Dutch ovens or skillets with porcelain inside and used only plastic silverware & utensils. That helped a lot. Scrambled eggs were his easiest dish to eat also. For about a month he wanted sausage gravy or homemade creamed chicken (only tiny pieces of chicken…no biscuits to go with it! LOL) His oncologist had never heard of that before but wanted him to get all of the calories he could so he liked the idea. After 2 months of trying so many things every day, he had to have a feeding tube for 6 months. I am so happy to say it seems to be gone from every place. Scans are all clear but we count our blessings everyday and are so apprehensive when the PET scans are due. Wishing the best to you & I truly believe positive attitudes help so much. You certainly have this. Our philosophy for each day was to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY and TREAT THE SYMPTOMS FOR THAT DAY. One day at a time.

    • I’ve been fortunate in the fact that my mouth issues only last about 7-10 days after chemo. Your poor husband. I’m glad you also included the fact that’s he’s through the worse. One day at a time!

  4. Melissa D says

    I read a book earlier this year with a character who is a chef for chemo patients. It was really thought-provoking! Glad you’re more than halfway through your treatments, Patti. High five!

  5. Haeley @ Design Improvised says

    Just a note to say hello, and so glad to hear you have already conquered 4 rounds of chemo. Amazing Patti!! This post was so interesting – I had not heard of chemo mouth. It sounds really rough, and I’m so sorry you are experiencing it. As Joyce said above, I think you are helping a lot of people with your tips and sense of humor. Keep it coming Patti!

    • 5 rounds, with the last being next week! So nice to see you here, Haeley. We’ve gotten a handle on the chemo mouth issue, thank goodness. Thanks for the good thoughts!

  6. Just starting this journey but a lot of comments made already ring bells! So far, for me, scrambled eggs and ice cream (not together!) work but not much else stays down. Still working through the pros & cons. Just coming up to my 2nd round of chemo so time yet to get to grips with the right stuff for me!

    • Oh, Janice, I’m so sorry to read this. I’ll add you to my prayer book as you make this journey.

      I love fruits and veggies and I just couldn’t eat them (much) during chemo. Too rough on the mouth. I needed very soft and easy to digest protein.

      I hope you find what works for you. Hydrate and protein, momma!

  7. did you have shingles as a form of the side effect of the chemo treaments? my sister has been having this

    • Susan, I didn’t, but have heard of this side-effect. I’m sorry you sister is dealing with shingles on top of treatment. She has been added to my prayers.

    • I’m about to have my third of six FEC T rounds, it was postponed for a week as I have shingles pah! So painful. Just looked at the date of your post and hope your sister has finished her chemo and is fit and well by now.

  8. Going for round 2 of chemo tomorrow… thank you for the advice… I too had a hard time with the mouth… they got me l-yisine… not sure of the spelling… and a mouth rinse that has niacin and a numming agent… that really helped!!! Thanks for the good food tips… eating was tough for me bc it went right thru me which was also painful… that’s when I got the probiotics and medicated aloe wipes that I carried with me everywhere!!!! All from from my Naturopathic doctor… I’ve also had itching issues… my legs were itching so bad… I couldn’t stop… I would put lotion on top of lotion. They actually felt bruised from scratching… So we will see what happens now on round two!!! Keep up the good work… sharing is definitely caring!!!

    • Asking for God’s grace and protection for you, Tammy. Adding probiotics to my routine was a huge help; I’m glad you’ve found them. Thank you for the love. Keep focused on killing the beast within and the good days ahead.

  9. Chicken noodle soup!

  10. Hi Patti thanks for this! Starting my first of 4 rounds of chemo in the a.m. Steroids are keeping me awake so I decided to Pinterest! Learned a lot do’s & don’t from your post and from the others posting as well! Christ’s blessing on you and your journey!

    • Debi – May God bless you and keep you on your journey. May his hand be on all who treat and love you. IF there is anything I can help you with, please ask.

      If you’re doc allows, start a good probiotic today. I should have done it from day one, but I was stubborn. Helped tremendously.

      Now, go kick cancer in the keester.

  11. Cathy Young says

    I begin chemo next week. Got a wig had it and my hair styled similarly. Then I saw a video about losing eyelashes and brows, still seeking a few items, NOW SEVERE

    • I’m so sorry that you’re suffering, Cathy. All my hair, eyelashes and brows grew back, so that is temporary. I used a probiotic for diarrhea, and that worked wonders. Ask your doc if that is something you can try.

      The only person who can answer your question, is you. I pray you strength and peace.

      • Hi Cathy, I’m between rounds 3 & 4 of chemo for breast cancer,. It is not fun however it is necessary. Hair will grow back, mouth sore get better, and all the other side effects will go away! I think of it as a bump in the road of my life, and this too shall pass! The Lord peace I pray for u as well! Stay strong!!!

  12. Denise Salazar says

    Thank you for your information. I got tomorrow for my port to be put in and will start chemo next week! I am more worried about the side effect of chemo then the chemo its self but I know it is necessary to kick cancers butt. I am working on my shopping list of must haves for my husband to have on hand when I start!

    • My prayers go with you in this journey, Denise.

      When I was going to chemo, have a warm, yet light blanket helped, as did having a light snack and a good book. Lots of people slept or used ipads or their phones, so the time spent in the chair wasn’t entirely objectionable.

    • Hello my name is Pam and I’m newly diagnosed with breast cancer
      And I’m scared 😟 and confused…. reading these post have helped a lot
      I have a question about getting your port… did it hurt?

      • I’m so sorry for your entry into the suckiest club in the world, Pam. The upshot is that there are amazing warriors counted as members.

        Getting the port was a bit uncomfortable for a few days, but if I’m remembering correctly, I went for a run within five days, so the discomfort passed quickly. Docs will tell you that the thinner you are, the more you will feel your port because there’s not as much padding.

        I pray you a swift road to the best of health.

  13. Cindy Smith says

    One food I found most palatable during chemo mouth was Egg Custard. It might be thought of as a pudding, but to me it was silky protein. Find recipe for Easy Egg Custard on the Epicurious webste. I added one extra egg yolk and made five ramekins instead of six.

  14. Tammy Tubbs says

    Hi there! I am in between chemo #1 and #2. I am so glad to have been able to read all the comments because that’s EXACTLY how I feel! Thank you for the tips and food suggestions! I have 5 more treatments and wonder if I’ll make it through. So I’ll get off my pity bus and get on the “you’re not the only one” bus!! Again thanks!

    • Hang in, Tammy. All of us wondered at some point if we would make it. It’s a tough road for sure, but it sounds like you have fight in you.

      I appreciate your comment and pray you renewed good health.

  15. I’ve got mouth issues from radiation to my neck ( breast cancer that moved to my cervical spine). My throat is on fire! I’m trying not to get discouraged. I’ve tried many of the foods you’ve suggested and they do help. Any cream-based soup works really well for me. I’m done with radiation (hopefully) and I’ll start chemo pills in 10 days. I don’t know what to expect, but I won’t be surprised if it’s more of the same for my mouth. Thank you for your suggestions!

  16. I have finished round #4 of chemo, and have the opposite side effect – cold sensitivity. If I touch anything cold, or Dear Lord try to drink anything cold, I feel thousands of tiny needles invading my hands, face, mouth, throat, etc. Try washing your hands in a public bathroom where warm, much less bot water is non existent. Thank goodness for the moist towelettes. I live in the Midwest where the temperatures forecasted for this 3rd week of July will be in the high 90’s to low 100’s. I have never liked coffee, and love iced tea. Oh, and those protein shakes are best tolerated ice cold. I spend 10 days at least with every chemo treatment trying to get enough liquid in me to stay properly hydrated. I have 8 more treatments to go. I’m planning on fighting this wicked disease with everything I’ve got. Cancer will be sorry it picked me to invade.

    • The treatment can be as harsh as the disease. I’m so sorry for your pain. I got used to using alcohol swipes in bathrooms, and still carry them with me.

      Thanks for popping in. Now, go kick cancer’s ass.

  17. Susan Ostrander says

    I ate bowls of Chili with lots of cheddar cheese. I ate Healthy Choice Steamers. More Chili! Lemonade, water and more water. Tapioca pudding, rice pudding. Yes a whole year and a half on these foods. I was always real good with my numbers. I’m glad that part is over. Now if I can just get through this tomoxifen.

    • Chili! Gave me the shivers thinking about it – there would have been no way I could have tolerated it, but I LOVE that you did! I pray you strength for the rest of the journey.

  18. Ginnie Q.R. says

    Just got home from surgery. Looking at post-opt appt. in two weeks. After that, chemo may be in my future. Didn’t know about chemo mouth. Thanks everyone for the information. Did anyone try yogurt or kefir?

  19. I have round 4 of 6 next week of my breast cancer chemo and I’ve had chemo mouth tne whole time. No sores, little pain but nothing and I mean nothing tastes right. Everything has a texture of corn meal or sand and sweet things are very bitter. I’m going to try eating ice chips during my next chemo and see if that helps. I’ll try the plastic utensils tomorrow. I’m living on tomato soup and oatmeal, tne only things tolerable right now. I try to eat some Greek yogurt for protein. i can only eat small amounts but I need to eat every 2 hours. They say this will all end after chemo. Let’s hope so 🙂

    • I’m so sorry. On the bright side, you will (most likely) get your taste buds back, and what a glorious day that will be!

      Scrambled eggs were my go-to for protein. I resigned myself to the fact that nothing would taste good, so I tried like hell to eat the most nutrient-packed foods my mouth would allow.

      Hang in, Laura. We’ll pray you through.

  20. Surviving my first cycle of chemo. Feeling weak and tired. I am grateful that I can eat. Do the side effects come as the chemo cycles continue? I have 5 more cycles to go and 3 radiation. Guess I will be finished by mid January 2018. Can hardly wait. Praying for all of you.

    • My experience with chemo side-effects was that they got stronger with each cycle and my recovery was longer with each cycle. They would last about a weekish and then I’d feel a bit better, then back for another round. BUT – I was always able to live my life. Prayers go with you. Come on January!

  21. On my last round, this time. I’m a repeater.
    I also have a gastric bypass. So eating is doubly hard.
    First two days I’m Okay, the next week, I stay away from anything with grease. I trY very hard to stay hydrated. I have a protein shake every day. Chocolate is my preference. Sometimes I throw a banana in for calories and a change of flavor. I use a bullet type mixer and some ice. The bypass makes any protein tough and during chemo it’s worse.
    I cut my hair short as soon as I knew I was going into chemo. It was mid back length. Less fuss, less hair all over the place when it comes out. I love a soft bandana to cover my head when I’m in public, but I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t care very much. :). The softer the better though.

  22. Hi, my daughter of 8 was recently diagnosed with Leukimia AML it hasnt been easy for me at all since day 1 she has already finished her first round of chemo which took horrible 8 days, on and off, runny stomach,cramps,vomitting,now mouth chemo,she has appetite but her mouth is sore,its not easy for me as i feel helpless…

    • Oh, Lesedi, I am so sorry. Going through chemo ourselves is hard, but it is doubly harder watching someone you love go through it.

      My prayers go with you, your daughter and all who care for her.

  23. I had chemo #6, out of 6, 3 weeks ago. I did not have trouble with mouth sores but my tongue would feel numb, causing foods to not taste good. My husband would make me mashed potatoes. They tasted good with butter or with a light gravy. I also ate scrambled eggs, macaroni and cheese. Keep looking towards your goal and keep praying!

  24. Helen scalabrino says

    I have had 7 chemos and 21 to go, once a week. Day 2 after chemo is really taxing and torrid
    with nausea, diarrhea and steroid cheeks. No appetite, and drink rehydrate as that us all I can keep
    down. I’m going to get up now and with my iPad as a recipe book cook up a storm of baby food.
    Helen, Cape Town,

  25. Anyone have issues with numbness in the fingers and toes? I have had it for 2 weeks after my 2nd chemo cycle.

    • Yes, it’s most likely chemo-induced neuropathy. I had it throughout my treatment and some lingers today, albeit much less than while in active treatment. B vitamins can be helpful.

      The Mayo Clinic has a list of things you can try HERE.

  26. Thank you for this it was really helpful. I have my 3rd chemo tomorrow and am dreading it. I can cope with all the side effects except for the complete lack of taste and an awful smell (Nobody else smells it)- it is so vile ..it’s s struggle to eat or drink- even water tastes stagnant . Last round all I could get down for a week was ice cold coke through a straw ( I don’t even like coke) and baked potato or boiled egg. I’m lucky I’ve not had any soreness ( touch wood) but just the thought of the smell makes me nauseas. Even toothpaste and mouthwash tastes like the smell…

    • Oh, Karen, I’m so sorry. I know this suffering all too well and my prayer is that after your FULL recovery, it will be a distant memory.

      I had an extremely hard time with brushing my teeth. My mouth wanted nothing to do with it – the smells – the tastes – the pain.

      Do the best you can at any moment. It’s all you can do.

      Hang in. You have the collective us praying.

      • Ginnie Q.R. says

        Hi,This is for Karen. Does the smell of orange, lemon or lavendar also smell vile? Maybe a scented oil near you would help.
        Prayers to all.

      • Thank you so much for the replies and suggestions.. I bought supplies for smoothies etc but once the smell hit there was no way I could get them down. I figure I just have to eat what I can and make up for it later. Just don’t need the extra stress. Anyway this week has been a good one and I’m enjoying that and trying not to think about the next chemo on Tuesday. One day at a time. Good luck and best wishes to everyone on their journey.
        Ps Ginnie thanks for the essential
        Oil suggestion. I can’t smell them at all but have been using Peppermint oil- (can’t smell it either tho get the coolness) but have been told it should still help with a queasy tummy..

  27. I just ran across this today, thought I’d read. I’m so surprised not of these comments used a high alkaline food diet. So much available to make great juices or smoothies. You must start this before chemo. Build your body up and keep drinking! One more thing plesse… not one comment mentioned CBD cannibus oil? Such a powerful natural remedy. God put these plants on earth for our survival.

    • Mary, I WANTED to eat a healthier diet – I WAS aware that what I was eating wasn’t the absolute best, but it came down to what my mouth and body would tolerate. There was no way I could get down a smoothie.

      From diagnosis to the start of chemo was less than a week and my diet was already chock full of fruits and veggies.

      Personally, I only heard of CBD cannibus oil in the last 6 months, and I’m willing to bet many others haven’t heard of it either prior to diagnosis.

      This post was meant as a jumping-off place of ideas for those already struggling.

  28. 2 of 6 chemo. No chemo mouth yet. But I have horrible headaches and my legs are very crampy for the first week after treatment. It’s so bad I can’t walk. Nothing seems to taste very good however I do eat yogurt and flavored water. I have more constipation issues than anything else in that area. Hoping these are all the side effects and no more show up! Cancer Sucks but Chemo, sucks just as bad!

  29. I’m coming up on eight years since my diagnosis of breast cancer. I had six rounds of chemo. The best way i can describe chemo is the worst hangover imaginable coupled with the worst morning sickness imaginable for 3-4 days after each treatment. I describe my chemo diet much like my pregnancy diet: I ate what I could eat when I could eat it. Period. Water didn’t even taste good with chemo and I love water. My husband made toast one morning and the smell was unbearable. How can you not like the smell of toast? Regarding chemo mouth, I still have it. And my tongue is very sensitive to cold things like ice cream. But I still eat it.

    • I am a HUGE water drinker and I could barely tolerate it through chemo. I approached eating and drinking as a job. I didn’t like it, but I would do it.

      Thanks for sharing, Caryl. And keep on eating that ice cream!

  30. Patti
    You made me laugh hard! Thank you – I have just begun with the chemo mouth and you have allowed me to find the silver lining in all this Hell with your humor!
    Thank you and God Bless!

    • Judy – hang in. Focus on kicking the holy hell out of your cancer. Thank you for your comment. It’s a joy for me when anyone tells me I made them laugh.

      God bless you and all who care for you.

  31. Going through chemo now. I rinse my mouth 3 Times a day with quarter teaspoon of baking soda and half a teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water and had no issues with mouth sores. Ask your oncologist? Mine recommended. Finished number 5 today and 4 to go! Prayers with all of you! You got this thing

  32. Debby Forrester says

    I am sending a huge thank you for these ideas that you have written. As a family member whose sister is in her first stages of chemo it helps me understand some of what she is going through. Now I also can help her with foods that will help her. Though she is allergic to eggs I now have better ideas of what to bring for her to keep her strength up. Thank you so much for your inspiration and especially your humor. Praying for all of y’all. This information is so helpful to me and so many others that want to help but don’t know how. Thank you

  33. Thank you so much for the ideas. I start radiation and chemo next week. Trying to prepare now, rinsing mouth with warm salt water and making smoothies. Not looking forward to the year ahead, but
    t looking forward to be cancer free

    • Shawn – I know you must be feeling terrified before you start down the path of treatment. You are one step ahead of where I was when I started – you have found a place to help. I pray your treatment does its job and that in a year you are cancer-free and we can all virtually high-five you!

      For radiation: Miaderm is extremely helpful: https://ohmrstucker.com/miaderm-radiation-relief-cream/

      I have also written other posts about cancer – simply write “cancer” into search tab and they’ll pop up.

      Our prayers go with you, Shawn. Go kill stuff.

  34. Ginnie Q.R. says

    Hi everybody, Finished 6 rounds of chemo and 3 rounds of radiation. Had my first CAT scan, all clear. To all facing chemo and radiation, yes it seems like it will never end. Take it one day at a time. Pamper yourself any way you can. Pray. Know you are not alone and that you will beat that cancer. Prayers for everyone.

  35. Hi there,
    I’ll be going for a mastectomy soon and then onto chemo treatment, I was wondering if you are still able to work during the treatment?

    • I was able to work and run all the way through treatment, albeit modified. There will be days it feels like you can’t, then days where you can. Listen to your body. Treat yourself with care. I pray you a swift recovery and good health, Jacqui.

  36. Jo Hopkinson says

    Thank you so much for this information. I start chemo next week only three weeks after diagnosis so it’s been very quick. I’m also a Type 1 diabetic so hoping I am able to eat something! Will be making a note of some of the suggestions.

  37. I just finished 4 cycles of Doxorubicin and Cyclophosphamide dense dose. I had my first of 12 weekly doses of Paclitaxel 2 days ago. Prior to all of this, I went to my dentist, who had just gone through his daughter’s cancer with his wife, his dental hygienist. I had a cleaning and check up and got some excellent pointers that helped me avoid mouth sores.
    At the first sign of any tenderness, I would rinse my mouth with slightly warm water with a bit of baking soda dissolved in it. I would swish it around really well. The PH in your mouth is very important and this worked wonders for me.
    Also, brushing teeth can be a challenge for some. They told me to buy a Sonicare toothbrush. It vibrates rather than rotates and is so much gentler on sensitive gums. The rotating brushes can tear up your gums. This has also been very helpful to me.
    I have alchohol-free mouthwash that I dilute with water, (half wash, half water) and Biotene moisturizing mouth spray for when I wake in the night with chemo dry mouth.
    These are things that have helped me. I realize everyone reacts differently, but these things has been good for me. I appreciate having this information at the beginning of my journey as I have only had 1 mouth sore and it lasted only 2 days because of the baking soda rinsed.
    I hope this helps someone else. God give you strength and courage as you find your path through this journey.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience, Linda. I agree that everyone reacts differently, but it’s helpful to have information that has helped others. It’s a try and see method.

      The dental issues were the most surprising for me (no one tells you that, do they?)

      I have had impacted wisdom teeth since my 20s. THEY CAME FULLY IN DURING CHEMO. My DIL, who is studying to become a dentist said that my situation was NOT unusual. I was shocked.

      Now, in my 50s, I may need braces since everything has shifted.

      Gotta laugh!

      Thanks again for caring enough to share with us.

      We’ll pray you through.

  38. Having a sister that is now 27 years cancer free gave me a heads up on some things that might happen. That is why I went to my dentist soon after my diagnosis. The mouth is kind of an indicator for a lot of health issues.

    Thank you for your prayers. They mean so much to me. Blessings❤

  39. I’m so glad I found your blog. I just had a bilateral mastectomy and will be starting chemo in a couple of weeks. You and your readers have given me so many good ideas as far as foods to eat, ways to treat mouth sores, etc. I thank you for adding humor to this horrible disease/treatment. Keeping a good attitude with humor where you can find it will really help me get thru this. Thanks again!

  40. Bilal Freeman says

    Hi just found your blog and I’m glad I did. I’ve just been diagnosed with Prostate cancer and have a lot to go through in the future. Knowing that there are people out there willing to share experience sis a relief. Feeling very nervous and a tad scared at the moment.

    • Welcome, Bilal. Being diagnosed is difficult enough, but now there is the unknown of treatment ahead. We understand. It is scary. I hope these pages will offer a bit of relief. Praying for your successful outcome.

  41. Marybeth Wantz says

    My heart goes out to you and I am so glad that you found things that worked for you! However, a person going through chemo would be better served to stay away from all sugar- it is counterproductive to fighting cancer in that it feeds cancer and promotes inflammation in the body. Also, there are great homemade recipes to create calorie shakes like boost without all of the artificial ingredients and by products!! Clean eating and feeding your body for strength and calories is going to be the best approach! There is a great book written by a doctor that survived stage 4 ovarian cancer by taking on the metabolic approach! It not only helps you to feel better , it helps you get and STAY well!

    • Marybeth – thank you for your comment.

      As one who has gone through treatment, and had extreme trouble eating (in the beginning, I was losing a pound a day), I can tell you that while eating as clean as possible is the always the goal, many times it isn’t doable. I am a life-long athlete and I have a deep understanding of nutrition and what is needed for strength and well-being.

      That being said, it came down to eating what I could tolerate.

      Also, many folks going through treatment have no energy to research a new way of eating or preparing new foods. My mantra was to simply eat – to get something in me that my body wouldn’t reject. To eat one scrambled egg took me two hours of forcefully willing myself to get it down.

      I say all this for insight. When we are well – YES! – please eat as healthy as possible. But, if, when you’re in the fight of your life, and maybe you’re the one that has to cook for yourself and you have no energy to spare, then eat what you can, when you can.

      Throughout my treatment, I had many who offered me advice, yet had not walked in my shoes. It was exhausting, confusing and many times hurtful, during a time I needed to focus my energies elsewhere.

      I say all this with love, knowing that you mean well. In ideal situations, yes, please eat a healthy diet. When one is fighting for their life, when one can’t eat as they would like, you do what you can do, when you can do it.

      • Ruth Hays says

        I agree with everything you have written. Since chemo I just eat whatever sounds good to me…potato chips or ice cream, Just get through it! I ate healthy for years and exercised and still got breast cancer. The day I found out I had cancer I told my husband we were going for a doughnut! Lol. He couldn’t believe it!
        And don’t listen to advice from anyone who has not had chemo. Chemo mouth is one of the hardest side effects.

        • As a lifelong runner, lifter and healthy eater, I can say that there are no guarantees against cancer. I loved that y’all went for a donut!

          When one is in the all-consuming-fire of treatment, one does what one can to get through it – even if it means eating a not so clean diet. You do what ya gotta do.

          I continued to run through chemo and radiation (albeit modified) and ate as healthy as I could when I could, but there were days when only ice cream would do. Chemo mouth is real, yo! Ain’t no getting around that.

          Thanks for weighing in and I pray your journey is one of victory!

    • Melinda Thompson says

      When nothing tastes good, most of us can’t limit what we eat. The “sugar feeds cancer” thing is not helpful. Those of us who can barely eat really don’t need advice from the alternative method group. I’m really not trying to be unkind. Most don’t know what they’d do until they go through it. I’ve been given advice about the keto diet, the alkaline diet, taking vitamin C, and so on. The keto diet actually is showing evidence of making breast cancer WORSE; you can’t change the pH of your blood through diet; and vitamin C counteracts the medication that I’m on. Please don’t insult me with suggestions if you’re not a doctor. We come here for support, not more reasons to feel guilty if we can’t eat what we know to be healthy.

      Admins… if this is too hostile. I understand if you don’t post it.

      • Not too hostile; I like to think of it as righteous anger. I felt the exact same during treatment.

        We understand the basis of a good diet. We desperately want to be healthy and give our bodies food that will help with repair, but there are days when only a milkshake with full fat ice cream will do. For every meal.

        There is a time and a place for care shown by offering what you know through diet, but in the throes of beatdown treatment, may not be ideal.

        May your journey through the fire be swift and may you enjoy good health from there on out.

        • Melinda Thompson says

          Thank you! During radiation, when I could barely swallow my own saliva, I drank milkshakes. I’ll be on some form of treatment for the rest of my life since my stage IV breast cancer is in my blood. I want to eat fruits and veggies, but some days that tastes like diet to me. I eat whatever I can. I’ve lost 65 pounds (I has it to lose) but the last thing I want is guilt for eating sugar. Some days, I have to remind myself to eat something, anything!

          My scans are currently stable; no growth in current lesions and no evidence of disease in my brain. I’ll take it for however long my body responds! We have to support each other!!

          • I was just reading last night that so many think of breast cancer as “the easy cancer” and I thought that rang true for me. No cancer is easy, especially at the advanced stages.

            Praying for those scans to remain stable and that the disease does not progress. (I have a friend who has metastatic breast cancer – she’s in her 20 (ish) year of fighting. We do the best we can, as we can.

            Thanks for joining the conversation here, Melinda.

  42. We need a CURE!!!anyone know anything about dandelion root and turmeric?

  43. Patti, or anyone else if others can see this,
    First off, thanks for the great eating tips. I also appreciate the “eat anything you can” advice which is the same thing my oncology nurse said.
    I’m having chemo for recurrent breast cancer. I have a total of 4 treatments, three weeks apart. I’ve had my first treatment and will have the next in less than a week. I know that everyone reacts differently and that symptoms can depend on the chemo drugs used and for what, where. I am taking Taxotere (generic Docetaxel) and Cytoxan (generic Cyclophosphamide) and I’ve paid close attention to all my symptoms/reactions to this first round of treatment. All in all I’ve not had a too rough of a time. My question is is each treatment going to get progressively worse? I’ve not had mouth sores, no throwing up, manageable diarrhea, and manageable eating issues.

    • Nancy Gadbois says

      Hi Lynn: Sorry to hear you are having to go through chemo. It sounds like I am dealing with the same thing you are. This is my 2nd time around with breast cancer, 17 years since my last dx. I was diagnosed this time with triple negative breast cancer and have undergone 5 treatments out of 6 (3 weeks apart) of Taxotere and Carboplatin. Like you, I have not experienced mouth sores, stomach issues, and constipation/diarrhea is manageable. I have found that my side effects have gotten progressively worse with, of course, loss of hair after my 2nd treatment, loss of appetite, most things taste terrible, like a bitter flavor for the first 10 days or so after treatment, and fatigue, which really became worse after my 4th treatment. I did have swelling and pain of my right foot, which the doctors could not figure out why. I was tested for a blood clot, but that was negative, and after a few weeks, these symptoms went away. So that is a mystery. But all in all, the side effects have not been too terrible. I would recommend that you make sure you get plenty of rest, take the meds recommended by your doctor for nausea, etc., eat what you can get down, drink plenty of water, and if you are able to get out and walk daily, that will help fight off the fatigue. Good luck with your treatments and best wishes for a full recovery!

      • Nancy,
        Thank you for responding. There has only been a little over a year between my diagnoses’. The first time around I had genetic counseling and discovered an abnormality in the BRCA2 so I opted for a nipple sparing bilateral mastectomy (I kept my skin and nipples) and had expanders at the same time for reconstruction. I found that my recovery wasn’t near as bad as I had researched. Getting the implants weren’t as bad as the research suggested it could be either. And again, after my laparoscopic hysterectomy I recovered quite easily. Ive already indicated how this first round of chemo went. I started losing my head hair exactly at week two. Thank you for sharing your experience, it helps put into perspective what the rest of my journey might be like. Preparing mentally is a huge comfort for me, it gives me back a bit of control and you have helped with that. It sounds like you will be done with your treatments soon and I wish you all the best now and for the future. I’m looking forward to the day that we will not have to worry about cancer, or any illness, ever again. (Isaiah 33:24)

    • There is much judgement about what chemo patients should eat, but my experience was that on some days I ate what I could stomach…end of debate.

      To answer your question: most folks do find it harder as treatment progresses. The caveat is: it’s temporary. Take each day as it comes. Focus on doing the best you can, then do it all over again the next day. Soon, you’ll be at the end of treatment and the full recovery can begin.

      I pray you strength for the day, grace for the awful and the ability to laugh at the the ridiculous.

  44. So true this is horrible and you are so sick that you just carry on and never mind all the people who think they know of something you can eat and then…..no its to soar swallowing. I am cancer free since March this year. Glory be to God

  45. Omg that is so great, and made me laugh out loud, just had first chemo today, so need that

  46. At the very slightest hint that my mouth was getting tender, I did as my dental hygienist advised and rinsed my mouth with baking soda and water. I used room temp water. I never had sores. Just an off taste. The PH of your mouth is very critical.

    After my mastectomy, I had 4 cycles of dense dose doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide. Then I had 12 weekly doses of paclitaxel. I will be getting my port removed tomorrow. Woo hoo!!

  47. Kim Fordham says

    Hi, I am joining the ranks of chemo. I will be starting in the next couple of weeks. As with everyone, I appreciate the wisdom of those who have walked before me. Have been fearful of the side effects of the chemo. With aggressive NHL I have made the decision that chemo is necessary. Have been doing lots of research on cancer killing foods. But sounds like the reality might just be to keep something, anything in the body for nutrition. Have about 50 pounds to lose but want to keep myself healthy to fight the fight. i will keep coming back here for support. Thanks!

    • Welcome, Kim. I’m so sorry for your diagnosis, but LOVE that you’re already thinking about nutrition throughout treatment.

      Yes, some days might be just eat what you can. Don’t worry about those days.

      On other days, you’ll feel better and eat better.

      One thing I have added since treatment is ground flax seeds. The nutrition is stunning and there is a study on breast cancer and the benefits of adding to your diet.


      I pray you strength and wisdom for the fight. Come back any time.

  48. I’m lazy, so I chose some easy fast foods like Taco bell bean burritos or Popeyes red beans and rice. I also found canned soup to be my best friend, since it’s soft. 🙂

  49. Barbara Kennedy says

    Was diagnosed 2 weeks ago with stage 1 – grade 3 breast cancer. am learning so much from all of you. appreciate all the advice. will start chemo on Monday and not looking forward to it. you have taken some of the fear and helped so much with the foods to eat .as one of you said, “It’s just a bump in the road” God speed to all of you.

  50. Oral cancer for me. Radiation for 30 days. Everything you went through I’m going through. Its been 3 months since last treatment and its still hard to eat anything, drinking ensure and found a 500 calorie shake from hormel that is really good but pricey is whats getting me through everyday. Back to work full time,gaining alittle weight. Im happy about 5 pounds drs are not. Radiation burns are called muconitis they tell me. Look like big white heads. The big guy has helped me along this far guess i can do it!! Thanks for listening.

  51. Breast and lung cancer here, both primary. I’ve had my surgeries (mastectomy and lymph node clearance then 1/3 lung out a week later) and now half way through chemo. I’m very lucky that I’m not suffering with the sore mouth, just the horrible metallic taste. Not being nauseous 24/7 for the first 10 days would be lovely though! Strength and love to all you fellow warriors.

  52. Less than two weeks ago I was diagnosed with Stage II Anal Cancer. I will start radiation and chemo therapy in a week. I am having 30 consecutive radiation treatments and with that will take mytomycin and 5-FU chemo. I’m afraid. I know everyone reacts differently and not everyone has the same side effects. Thank you all for sharing your experiences. The information about food is appreciated. Prayers for everyone going through this disease.

    • As my beloved grandmother used to say, “Keep the faith.”

      I pray you will have few side effects and are able to handle all that is thrown at you, as you battle back to good health.

      Fear is normal. May God go with you, as will we.

  53. Hi! I just had my second AC chemo dose dense- every 2 weeks. Doing really well so far. 3 drug antinausea cocktail is doing a splendid job and I can eat pretty normally!!!! No mouth sores so far/ my hubby is a retired dentist who also did cancer related research. He had the dr prescribe Chlorhexidene mouth rinse to be used twice daily as it has been found good for prevention and treatment of mouth sores. Also I had my teeth cleaned before starting chemo and it is imperative that you have really good oral hygiene and brushing habits and FLOSS!!! So far I have been lucky. I also get 7 days of white blood cell booster shots in between each chemo. Such a unique and difficult journey for all of us, but God gives me peace and joy along the way. God bless you all❤️

    • You were lucky to have your husband advocate and research for you. I agree with all, but there were times when there was no way a toothbrush was getting put in my mouth – and forget flossing. It was brutal.

  54. I’m stage 4 endometrial cancer and currently going through 6 cycles of chemo that are 3 weeks each with no break in between. I’ve had issues with no taste as well. Worst ti.es are first 4-5 days after chemo. I resonate with the scrambled eggs and have found that red apples that are very cold (cant handle the peel) is very soothing along with canned mandarin oranges. Strawberries and pineapple have no taste for me. I’ve also managed new England clam chowder and canned ravioli. Chickfilas chicken noodle soup has been good (I really focus on broth and chicken) as the noodles taste like cardboard. My biggest go to when I’m hungry and just need filling is the local Chinese place where I get shrimp fried rice (without onions) it’s really bland and filling. I’ve also ordered in grilled shrimp and baked potato quite often. It seems to agree with my taste buds. Hope this helps.

  55. I found texture to be a big problem as in potatoes were like sand, chicken was like sand… Cream of mushroom soup was doable and I could handle some crackers soaked in the soup. Yogurt and pudding and eggs were staples even though they often tasted like baking soda – a lot of stuff tasted like baking soda or metal. Using a numbing rinse before eating helped a bit too.

    • Yes, to all of this. It’s such a hard and horrible experience, but I’m grateful you found some foods doable enough to get down.

      I lived for the day when food tasted like food again.

  56. I started chemo last week for the 3rd time in 6 years. This is the first time I have experienced everything you mention. Not to mention every orifice with mucus membranes being on fire and esophagus being raw. Had a smoothie yesterday and did ok. Going to try the banana and applesauce now. Yogurt is soothing too. Good luck to you.

    • Oh, Susan – our prayers go with you.

      I can remember the pain of what you’re experiencing and I’m hoping the banana and applesauce will be something you can tolerate.

      It’s a horrible ordeal. We are with you.

  57. I had BC 5 years ago and wish i had known this recipe i got from Mayo with my latest cancer,liver and bile duct). It is: 1quart water, I Tablespoon Baking Soda, 1Tsp- Salt. Swish in mouth especially after meal and DO NOT SWALLOW. So simple and works wonderful. My son in law used it when he had strep throat and said it was the bomb. Sometime i mix up just smaller portions.

    Even when you have had a clear diagnosis insist on always getting a follow up CT, MRI or Pet Scan yearly. I found out last year i have advanced liver and bile duct cancer(cholanchiocarcinoma). Wish some one had advised me and this might could have been found sooner. My tumor is inoperable and it is only chemo from now on indefinately.

    • Ginnieqr. says

      Hi Susan, After having 3 CT scans my oncologist said I was in the clear from endometrial cancer. I get bloodwork done. I asked if the bloodwork and CTscans would show any other cancer starting up in my body. She said no, they only check for a reoccurence of cancer in the same area you had your cancer. I told her that there should be something that would signal a cancer beginning anywhere in your body. After all, we have millions of body cells and any one of them can mutate into cancer. I asked her to pass it on to other doctors. Sombody should be researching this area.
      I will pray for you that your chemo will defeat your cancer again. God bless.

    • I’m so sorry for your new diagnosis. My prayers go with you.

      I did try the baking soda remedy to no help – BUT – am so glad it worked for you (and others will find this helpful).

  58. Vickie Wiggins says

    My husband is going through throat cancer right now. In addition, he had to have most of his teeth pulled prior to chemo/radiation. This has presented a BIG problem with his eating. I am at my wits end. He is sick of the Ensure/Fortify nutrition drinks, sick of pudding, sick of jello, sick of blended anything. He fought the metal taste and I suggested he use plastic utensils, which has helped a lot. But He still does not eat enough to withstand the treatments he has to take for his cancer. He has lost so much in the short 2 weeks since his treatment began, already down by 35 lbs. Since he started at over 300 lbs, it isn’t drastic yet, but it is noticeable and I still worry about his surviving the treatments.

    • Vickie, I’m so sorry to read this. Treatment is not only difficult to endure, it’s scary as hell for everyone.

      Can he stand eggs? I practically survived on scrambled eggs made with milk. Lots of protein.

      I’d try every high calorie anything, just to get the calories in him.

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