Topic: New supplemental drink might help...
In August of 2007, my husband Richard began feeling ill. It took until December 20 and five specialists to finally diagnose his condition (another long story in itself). He is now two and a half years post-Whipple surgery for stage 2a (just barely) distal cholangiocarcinoma with no lymph node involvement. His surgery by Dr. Jason Fleming at M D Anderson Cancer Center in Houston went very well, but he did develop a severely inflamed pancreas afterwards which necessitated a longer hospital stay and a second drain being inserted post-surgery. The surgery was performed January 15, 2008, and due to the complication and the toll it took on him, his reduced-level chemo and radiation therapies did not begin until the end of May. He received chemo both by IV and orally (the oral was Xeloda) and then continued Xeloda through the radiation treatments. He tolerated both very well, with only a mild case of becoming susceptible to cold temps and tingling in the tips of his fingers at the very end of the chemo. He did well throughout the radiation treatments as well, though by the end he was beginning to be tired. His last five treatments had to be delayed by the onset of Hurricane Ike when it hit the area in September 2008 and shut the hospital's non-essential services down for a few days. Therefore his last few treatments hit him harder than they normally would have, but the effect was mostly to make him extremely tired for a couple of months. He began recovering soon after that with a steady progress and gradual weight gain. By August 2009 he had gained 10 lbs. back of the 85 he had lost since the onset of the disease two years earlier. He had been overweight, and didn't want to gain all of it back, but he finally looked healthy again. Then he developed a pseudo-cyst on what is left of his pancreas, which caused some bleeding and pressing on his stomach. He had to have two units of blood transfused over Labor Day weekend and lost his appetite for about a month, making him lose the weight he had gained. The pseudo-cyst was surrounded by swollen blood vessels and could not be drained. We had to wait and let his body take care of it by itself. It took a few months, but it did; however, he has had trouble putting on any weight since then. He has struggled just to gain even one pound. Twice since then, we have also had to deal with a pocket of infected fluids collecting at the site of the scar on his pancreas left by the pseudo-cyst. Each of these episodes has also destroyed his appetite, though it has returned.
I relate this chronology of events in order for you survivors and co-survivors to have an understanding of where we are. While we don't feel we have to deal with the cancer again (statistically, as I'm sure you are all aware of, if it doesn't come back in two years, it probably won't again), the aftereffects of the Whipple surgery itself are another matter. Richard is not one of those people that has problems with dairy post-surgery, but he has not been able to tolerate Ensure or Boost supplemental drinks. He has not been able to handle much fat at all in his diet, so it's been a struggle to find nutrition-rich, low-fat foods that he likes and can eat. He does take replacement enzymes. He is back at work, and unable to eat several meals during the day as most sites recommend. So you can imagine that he has some symptoms of malabsorbtion, bordering on malnutrition, even with taking vitamin supplements. These episodes of infection affecting his appetite have only aggravated the issue. Luckily, the surgeon told us last week of a new supplemental drink called Enlive! that has just come out. It is fortified like Ensure or Boost, but is based in fruit juice instead of milk, and is more easily tolerated. Think extra-fortified Gatorade in apple and berry flavors. It isn't available here at any stores, but the company that makes it (Abbot Laboratories) ships. We just got our shipment yesterday, and my husband has found that he actually LIKES it!! That's good, considering the surgeon told him he has to look at it like medicine and down two a day for the foreseeable future!
I know that two days isn't much to base anything on, but believe me when I say that it's more encouraging than anything else we've tried. I just wanted to let others who are struggling like we are know about the product so that it might help.