Colon cancer and troubles with eating, bowel movements and nausea

Posted by gra0714 @gra0714, Feb 8 6:56am

My dad is 90 yrs old and has been exceptionally independent and healthy until he was diagnosed with colon cancer 6 months ago. While his cancer was in a good place to operate once He had exploratory surgery they could not because they said the 2 tumors had attached themselves to the pancreas and duodenum . After this surgery he went downhill feeling extremely weak,little appetite and unable to sleep. He was hospitalized for bleeding and given a course of 5 radiation treatments to stop bleeding and hopefully stabilize him. After the radiation nausea,vomiting and diahrrea persisted for 2 weeks and he was unable to eat, and he lost over 30 lbs. throughout this time he was on zofran, an anti nausea medication for cancer patients after treatment, which did not help despite increase in dosage and being told that it was the best medication for nausea.he was again hospitalized where he started to eat a little again. Once home he was eating a little better and was on zofran 4x daily. He then developed constipation which cleared up but now still having difficulty eating , vomiting and afraid to eat because he worries that he will vomit. We try to encourage him to have little sips of foods/drinks he likes but he becomes agitated with us.
Has anyone had any experience with this issue with an elderly parent and what could be done to correct nausea and vomiting to help him eat. He also does not sleep which does not help with his mood(note that prior to all this he never had sleep problems)
Thanks for any feedback.

Hi @gra0714, welcome to the Colorectal Cancer group. Digestive issues and troublesome bowels are not uncommon among colorectal cancer patients. I'd like to bring @virgo1952 @sundance6 @corn50 @1943 @troyhenn22 @kathleenweidmann and @lisag03 into this discussion as they may have some tips to share about managing nausea, diarrhea, constipation and all the variations.

Gra0714, it can be so distressing as a caregiver when a loved one doesn't eat, drink or sleep well. I can also understand your grandfather's agitation. My dad was like that too when we tried to get him to eat or drink. Speaking from our experience, we concentrated on one thing at a time. Perhaps that could be liquids or sleep in your grandfather's situation. For my dad, we made sure a glass full of ice (he liked his water really cold or to suck on ice cubes) at his 3 main resting stations – the easy chair, the chair by the front window and his bed. That way we weren't bringing him the water as soon as he sat down and it seemed less like hovering or pestering to him. Do you leave drinks around for him to sip?

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This is so hard. For me, nausea was managed with medication. Emend IV helped a ton but it was only given with chemo. I drank a lot of protein shakes (core protein pre mixed shakes). They helped. Also, CBD gummies helped with nausea and appetite

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lisag03, My thoughts and blessing go out to you what you are suffering! Just keep being strong! I know that's easier said than done! Have been down that road many years ago, and I'm still here! Know when you post on Connect your pain is sent back by many!! We all care about each other. I know many have been helped by CBD. It is wonderful that a "natural" type medication is available to all!
Sundance(RB)

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Thank you for your words of encouragement ! It means a lot when o hear things from people that know what I am going through

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@colleenyoung

Hi @gra0714, welcome to the Colorectal Cancer group. Digestive issues and troublesome bowels are not uncommon among colorectal cancer patients. I'd like to bring @virgo1952 @sundance6 @corn50 @1943 @troyhenn22 @kathleenweidmann and @lisag03 into this discussion as they may have some tips to share about managing nausea, diarrhea, constipation and all the variations.

Gra0714, it can be so distressing as a caregiver when a loved one doesn't eat, drink or sleep well. I can also understand your grandfather's agitation. My dad was like that too when we tried to get him to eat or drink. Speaking from our experience, we concentrated on one thing at a time. Perhaps that could be liquids or sleep in your grandfather's situation. For my dad, we made sure a glass full of ice (he liked his water really cold or to suck on ice cubes) at his 3 main resting stations – the easy chair, the chair by the front window and his bed. That way we weren't bringing him the water as soon as he sat down and it seemed less like hovering or pestering to him. Do you leave drinks around for him to sip?

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Good morning @gra0714. I’m sorry to hear your Dad is struggling. I remember Coleen’s story about her Dad when I first contacted this discussion group. My frustration with eating, drinking and the “healing” process. Colon resection after testing for cancerous tissue and testing positive. One year this October and still eating, drinking and walking to keep my body functioning as “normal” in my today’s world. I will share with you that I worked in a hospital and care center as a director and social worker Eating and drinking is more challenging (in general) as we age Coleen’s suggestions are very doable without infringing on your Dad’s decision making. My mother was 86 yrs old when she was diagnosed with bladder cancer after removing a large tumor in her bladder, following up with chemo and radiation. Her appetite was up and down. I fixed her whatever she wanted. (Changed daily) I just figured something was better than nothing. She craved Chinese food and (fortunately) I had taken a class and could fix it for her. She also suddenly like cranberry juice, did not nauseate her. Just jeep trying different food/liquid and expect your Dad’s need to change it up. I, myself, could only eat toast with creamy peanut butter and pickles the first two months after my re-section. I think my craving for vinegar from the pickles (bread and butter) helped settle my stomach. I know several people who swear by vinegar for stomach issues. Maybe a supplement drink or one you can make for him daily, packed with good vitamins. Being drinkable may be easier for him. Hydration is a biggie. Well, I hope this is helpful and I want you to know, we all are thinking about you. Don’t hesitate to chat, even when you just need a listening ear. Take care. virgo52

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Hello @gra0714

I would like to add my welcome to you. I'm glad that you posted about your concern over your dad's recovery. At age 90, he has certainly been through a lot when you consider the exploratory surgery, radiation, etc. It is understandable that he would be weak, agitated and not feel well enough to eat.

I have had three surgeries of the upper digestive tract for a rare form of cancer, carcinoid cancer. I was younger than your dad when I had my surgeries, but I still have days when food doesn't really appeal to me and my appetite is rather weak.

I would certainly second what others have said regarding giving him whatever tastes good to him. Liquid nutrition drinks can be helpful if you put them in a blender with a banana or some frozen fruit. If there is a particular type of sherbet or ice cream that he likes that might appeal to him as well.

When I'm feeling nauseated, I crave cinnamon and I have no idea why, but it always helps to calm my stomach and I feel better.

I know you are concerned, but remember your dad's age and that he is dealing with some difficult diagnoses and needs time to adjust.

Will you post an update?

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@hopeful33250

Hello @gra0714

I would like to add my welcome to you. I'm glad that you posted about your concern over your dad's recovery. At age 90, he has certainly been through a lot when you consider the exploratory surgery, radiation, etc. It is understandable that he would be weak, agitated and not feel well enough to eat.

I have had three surgeries of the upper digestive tract for a rare form of cancer, carcinoid cancer. I was younger than your dad when I had my surgeries, but I still have days when food doesn't really appeal to me and my appetite is rather weak.

I would certainly second what others have said regarding giving him whatever tastes good to him. Liquid nutrition drinks can be helpful if you put them in a blender with a banana or some frozen fruit. If there is a particular type of sherbet or ice cream that he likes that might appeal to him as well.

When I'm feeling nauseated, I crave cinnamon and I have no idea why, but it always helps to calm my stomach and I feel better.

I know you are concerned, but remember your dad's age and that he is dealing with some difficult diagnoses and needs time to adjust.

Will you post an update?

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Yes soon,thank you.

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So sorry to read your family is struggling. Brought me right back.

I'm in my 60's & lost 40+ lbs. 8 mos. ago stage 2 colon cancer. Tumor, 12" colon removed, open & laprascopic surgery.

I would start with pain. Keep it managed day & night. Husband set alarms, ground pills & put them in applesauce to get them down me.

Nausea, they gave me Ondansetron, 3 X daily. Certainly weaker than what your dad's on; maybe try something different. My stomach felt severely bruised for months & pressure. This helped immensely.

Note: Husband had to advocate for me to get stronger pain & nausea medication. I couldn't eat much of anything until those 2 were under control.

Also note: I knew I was in extreme pain. I knew I was nauseous. I knew I needed to eat. I didn't know what to do about it nor did I have the energy to figure it out. I became very agitated as my husband pressured or sometimes merely offered me food.

Next, eat something every 2 hrs. In the beginning, I lived on chicken & beef broth, applesauce, mashed potatoes. Sometimes 3 tablespoons at a time. This took pressure off all of us. If I was awake, I ate something every 2 hrs. After a few weeks, I found myself starting to develop an appetite again.

Finally, odors. I simply couldn't eat if there were odors in the house. The offensive odors changed from day to day. One day it wouldn't bother me, the next day it made me nauseous.

Slowly introduce soft foods he likes. I had a huge run on ice cream. Sugar is bad for cancer. Being weak & starving is worse.

Anywhere you can, add additional calories. Butter, cream, coconut oil, honey, maple syrup…

Weight is strength. Strength to eat & sleep.

I wish you & your father only the best.
Kathleen

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Thank you.. your response helped answer questions & confusion on my part.
Stay healthy!!

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Hi, my dad, 90 yrs old had once again had to be hospitalized because of continued inability to eat…he would eat his cereal for breakfast and usually be able to keep it down. However he would vomit anything even water for any other meal of the day. Thus he stopped eating. When hospitalized they said that the tumour which was impinging on the duodenum was blocking any food.
At this time the surgeon had said that given that cancer was inoperable they may be able to do a gastrostomy surgery whereby he would be tube fed. My father does not want any more invasive surgery. We will take him home.
Has any one had such surgery and what has experience been. Any suggestions as to how to cope with this; how can we help my dad, he can barely swallow .
Does anyone know if IV is provided at home?
Thank you for any suggestions to make him comfortable.
Gra0714

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gra0714. I’m sorry to hear about your Dad. I placed my Mom in a hospice care facility. I did this so my large family could spend time with her and have a place to be together. Wasn’t optimal, but worked for my family. Where I live there is hospice care available and can be provided in a home setting. This would allow your Dad to receive needed care. I don’t know where you live but even the hospital has information on home care and should have social workers for discharge that can provide assistance to your family. My mother had strict instructions (directive of care) where I could not override her instructions, but I did make sure she remained hydrated. I'm sure other members can share more info. Things you can do to help your Dad. Tough times. Brings back memories. Some bitter sweet. My family (kids,grandkids,etc) were able to spend time together. Was perfect. Hang in there. virgo

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@lisag03

This is so hard. For me, nausea was managed with medication. Emend IV helped a ton but it was only given with chemo. I drank a lot of protein shakes (core protein pre mixed shakes). They helped. Also, CBD gummies helped with nausea and appetite

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CBD gummies have helped me quite a bit regarding vomitting and nausea and maintained my apetite since being diagnosed with colon cancer 4 months ago. Ensure milk shakes have helped me as well and after drinking I do not get nausea. Hope this helps, God Bless!

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