Meeting with a dietitian during cancer treatment: What to expect

While there are no foods that can kill cancer cells, the foods you eat during cancer treatment can have a big impact. Changes to your diet can ease side effects or help your body stay strong and healthy during treatment. “Your nutrition is an important part of your cancer treatment and overall well-being,” says Randi Nicholson, a clinical dietitian at MD Anderson. “True, it’s just one part of the puzzle when it comes to your treatment. But it’s an important part.” For this reason, each clinic at MD Anderson has an assigned dietitian who is available to help patients at all stages of their cancer treatment. Patients can ask their care team to connect them with a dietitian. For many patients, meeting with a dietitian is a new experience. We asked Nicholson what you can expect. Here’s what she had to say. Prepare before your appointment with a dietitian It’s important to prepare for your first appointment with a dietitian to make sure you get the most out of it. Nicholson recommends bringing the following to your appointment: Any supplements or vitamins you’ve been taking. If you can’t bring the actual supplement with you, take a picture of the package, including any ingredients or directions, so your dietitian can consider how this may be affecting you or interacting with your diet. A list of any side effects you’ve been experiencing. Include when you experience the side effects. Your dietitian may be able to make changes to your diet that could ease side effects like nausea, upset stomach, headaches or fatigue.  A food log. Keep track of what you’ve been...

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor finds help, hope

Random nose bleeds and unexplained bruises were Edgar Villalta’s first clues that something was wrong. Then little red dots appeared all over his body. Doctors in his home state of Alabama misdiagnosed him three times.  “At this point, I was getting bleeding from my head. I also was getting some bleeding inside my mouth,” he says. “The more time that passed by, I was getting weaker and more tired.” A rare non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis Then one day in October 2009, Edgar collapsed at work. He was taken to the emergency room and was hospitalized for a week. “My platelet count was at 3,000, which is exceptionally low,” he says. After a platelets transfusion, a bone marrow test finally revealed his diagnosis: stage IV mantle cell lymphoma. Doctors told Edgar to find an oncologist who specialized in this rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma treatment at MD Anderson During his search for the right oncologist, a co-worker suggested he look into MD Anderson. “I just knew that I needed to get the best help I could get, no matter what,” he says. Edgar made his first 12-hour drive to Houston that November. “I was very impressed with MD Anderson, and the staff was friendly. Everybody was helpful, so it felt it right. I was glad I was there because I just had a feeling that I was going to get the right help that I needed,” he says. Michael Wang, M.D., put Edgar on a treatment plan that included eight cycles of the chemotherapy drugs Adriamycin and Hyper-CVAD, as well as prednisone, a steroid. His side effects were mild....