(10/01/12) - Among the many struggles faced by patients - both during and after treatment - is extreme fatigue. In fact, a study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology finds, soon after surgery, one in four women experience fatigue. By the end of treatment, one in three have it. For some, it continued for up to a year after treatment ended.
Kellie Trombitas battled breast cancer and won, but treatment to knock-out the disease led to constant fatigue. "I slept a lot. Chemo takes a lot out of you."
But, registered dietician Stacy Bursuk says women can fight that fatigue with food. "When you're choosing foods that help you fight fatigue during and after cancer treatment, you want to try and choose foods of all different colors."
She adds red peppers are great for fatigue-fighting anti-oxidants. "They're also an excellent source of vitamin C."
But she recommends breast cancer patients avoid acai and noni juices. "Because your cancer treatment is trying to destroy those bad cells and those high anti-oxidant juices might actually protect those cells."
Up to three servings a day of whole soy foods like tofu, soy milk and edamame can also help keep calorie levels up. But women struggling with exhaustion should steer clear of soy protein isolate, found in some protein bars and shakes.
Bursuk says red meat can be a good source of protein for breast cancer survivors, but garbonzo beans are a great alternative. "In a little bit of beans you can get as much protein as you can in a couple ounces of meat."
After 10 months of exhaustive treatment, Kellie says she has her energy back. "It's just a good feeling."
The folks at breastcancer.org recommend survivors dealing with fatigue eat half a gram of protein for each pound they weigh, every day. For a 140 pound woman, that's 70 grams. Bursuk says that protein should be distributed throughout the day during meals and snacks.
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