Beth-W-Breast

Seven nutrition changes I made after gallbladder cancer

Bernice M. was diagnosed with gallbladder cancer in 2012. While undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), she overhauled her diet and her exercise regimen. Now, she’s sharing the seven swaps she found most beneficial.

  1. Eliminate fine sugar. I love sweets—pastries, cookies, etc.—but excess sugar can lead to excess pounds, and being overweight is a risk factor for cancer and other serious diseases. My journey with gallbladder cancer made me even more aware of my health, and a healthy lifestyle starts with balanced nutrition, and cutting excess sugars. So I took time to carefully read the labels when shopping for groceries, because many products contain sugar, and I stopped using fine sugar altogether.
  2. Replace sodas and sugary drinks with water. While undergoing chemotherapy, I craved ginger ale to ease the nausea I experienced during my treatments. But, wanting to cut down on sugary sodas, I found that freshly brewed ginger tea satisfied the craving and helped with the nausea. Although ginger is very spicy, I would often chew on a small piece for severe cases of nausea.
  3. Limit fast food intake. I consciously chose not to consume greasy and/or fried foods, including pizza, which I’ve always loved. Although I experienced nausea, I never vomited during months of chemotherapy, which I believe was attributed to eating well.
  4. Implement a vegetarian diet and limit consumption of meat to twice per week. I chose to eat a variety of cruciferous vegetables, beans, berries and other fruits. I initially decided not to eat meat—poultry, beef or fish—but my oncologist and oncology-trained nutritionist informed me that I needed the protein while undergoing chemotherapy. Instead of making meat an everyday staple, I ate it twice a week. Also, I had to maintain a stable weight that coincided with the prescribed dosage of my chemotherapy treatments. I selected organic meats and vegetables, with a specific awareness of the EWG’s Dirty Dozen™ list.
  5. Manage and maintain an appetite by eating smaller meals more frequently. While undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy, I often experienced a loss of appetite and severe constipation. I could no longer eat an entire meal in one sitting. Instead, I ate smaller portions, spread over six meals instead of three. I also swapped my silverware for plasticware to help with the taste changes from chemotherapy.
  6. Reduce the consumption of dairy products and replace them with dairy-free products such as almond and coconut milk. In lieu of yogurt made with dairy, I switched to dairy-free yogurt. I also drank plenty of water and occasionally added lemon to alleviate my constipation, caused by the type of chemotherapy drugs I received. I also began taking a stimulant laxative three days before treatment and continued taking it up to three days after treatment to prevent constipation.
  7. Continue to exercise three times per week. Prior to the cancer diagnosis, I exercised at the gym three to four times per week. After my treatment began, I purchased an elliptical for my home. The treatment schedule made it difficult to go to the gym, but exercising at home gave me the energy I needed to keep going.