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Words from the Wise


Tips on how to overcome some of the common problems suffered by upper gastrointestinal cancer patients from former patients & carers

General Advice


1 Don't suffer in silence, let those close to you know how you are and how you feel.

2 Join a support group, these are people who have experienced everything you are going through.

3 Listen and try to do what people who "know" advise, they really do want to help.

4 Stick to your dietary needs, think before you eat. You may suffer later.

5 Your tastes will change after treatment for Upper GI cancers, try different foods.

6 Eat little and often. Choose foods with plenty of protein and vitamins to maintain energy.

7 Use a smaller plate, It's usual to make the meal fit the plate, and being faced with a large amount of food can put you off eating.

8 Have a small glass of sherry about 20/30 minutes before a meal, it increases your appetite.

9 Have a glass of cola at your meal. If food starts to stick a small sip of a fizzy drink often helps. Cola works best.

10 Don't be afraid of "dumping syndrome", everyone goes through it and you will recover.

11 If you have a problem with swallowing liquids try drinking through a straw. Wider diameter straws such as those supplied by MacDonalds work better than thinner straws. Use these for both hot and cold drinks.

12 Butterkist! If you have a problem with food sticking in your gullet try eating Butterkist. It sounds improbable but this toffee popcorn is one of the best things to clear a blockage. We have known people who have practically lived on this product as it has been the only thing they have been able to swallow, but it must be this particular brand. Nothing else seems to work so well.

13 As a carer have plenty of patience and understanding of the patients own frustrations.

14 As a patient, try not to snap at or argue with your carer they are doing their best to help.

Post-Op Advice


15 Use a walking stick when you are out. You may be able to cover quite a long distance if you walk at a steady pace, but a lot of us find that it is painful to stand. Use a stick to rest on, it eases the pressure on your ribs.

16 Don't try to over reach or stretch, and don't try to lift heavy weights.

17 Don't worry about vomiting after a meal. Your system will take a long time to adjust to your new dietary requirements.

18 When in bed lie at an angle of between 45 to 60 degrees, this helps prevent reflux.

19 When using extra pillows layer them so that they form a wedge rather than a mound. This helps prevent kinks in your digestive system.

20 Instead of using extra pillows put blocks under the head of your bed. This helps to prevent a curve in the body around your midriff that could cause a blockage in your digestive system. It also means that if you share a bed, your head is not 6 inches above that of your partner.

21 If you find that you slide down the bed with the head of the bed raised try placing a thin pillow under your legs by your knees. This helps prevent you slipping.

22 Use a walking stick when you are out. You may be able to cover quite a long distance if you walk at a steady pace, but a lot of us find that it is painful to stand. Use a stick to rest on, it eases the pressure on your ribs.

23 Don't try to over reach or stretch, and don't try to lift heavy weights.

24 Don't take every piece of advice as gospel, we are all individuals and different things work for different folks. If something doesn't work for you try doing the opposite?

Brian Childs, Chairman Upper G.I. Blues.

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Site created by: Roger Van-Cauter.
©Copyright 2007 Roger Van-Cauter & U.G.I. Upper G.I. Blues.
Last updated:17/11/11

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