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My Neutropenic Not Pregnant Pregnancy Diet

My Neutropenic Not Pregnant Pregnancy Diet

When I was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, I knew that it was a life-changing diagnosis. The word cancer strikes fear into your heart like nothing else. The thing I didn’t anticipate was the change in diet. Before my PET scan, I adjusted my diet to low carbohydrates and high protein. The nurse talked about the cancer feeding off of sugar. If the cancer wasn’t hungry it wouldn’t absorb the glucose solution that helps light up during the scan. It got me thinking about whether I am feeding my cancer when I eat sugar or carbohydrates. I ate appropriately and the scan found my cancer.

Shifting diets

I had one lymph node removed for my biopsy, but the scan found two more next to it and one in my chest nearby. I am currently undergoing standard ABVD treatment. The second diet shift came with chemotherapy. I went from the scan diet to fighting nausea and being neutropenic. I shifted from obsessing over the evils of sugar to eating anything I can keep down. Sometimes that means soup or broth. Sometimes comfort food carbs are the only thing that is palatable.

After my first two chemotherapy treatments, my neutrophils, infection-fighting white blood cells, were abysmal which means I am now neutropenic. It is not uncommon for this to happen during chemo. Many patients will receive a shot to jump-start the white blood cells, but the Bleomycin I am taking has potential pulmonary toxicity which would mean too many pulmonary risks with the shot. I have to stay well as I cannot fight infection of any kind, even the slightest cold could mean a hospital stay which could delay treatment. Delaying treatment could affect the outcome of success.

Respecting my body

I am in hibernation for the fall and winter. I have lots of Lysol and hand sanitizer stationed around the house. My biggest threats are my three school-age boys and my husband who travels for work. They are in the outside world in schools, gyms, airplanes, and public venues during flu season.

Being neutropenic means I have a new diet to follow. The diet reminds me of when I was pregnant. Because of the risk of infection, I cannot eat undercooked meats or eggs, raw foods, lettuces, fruits, and vegetables must be carefully washed, and I am avoiding soft cheeses. I have always shopped organic and avoided unnatural foods, yet I think it is okay to treat yourself to indulgence in moderation. I imagine I will always be mindful of my eating and my health forever from this battle. While I am neutropenic I will stay on this pregnancy diet. I am not pregnant with a child and likely now never will be again, but instead, I am pregnant with cancer. When I am no longer neutropenic I will treat myself to sushi or a filet mignon to celebrate. The birth of life after cancer will be filled with a grateful heart and healthful respect for my body.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • ScottChristiansen moderator
    10 months ago

    Enjoyed reading your article quite a bit. Being able to conjoin your diet protocol with a solid practical attitude is key I think. Best wishes in 2019!

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    10 months ago

    Hi Amber,
    Its so interesting how everything in one’s life changes, even down to what and how they eat. I commend you for hanging in there and making mindful adjustments as needed, with coping with your new life. The adjustments are not easy, but we move on and do the best we can. Best!

  • bluchs
    10 months ago

    Good for you!
    If this diet works for you Bravo.
    I live alone, so infection for me is not as difficult as it must be for you, since, you have germs being brought in from the outside world.
    It is very scary, having a compromised immune system, I also keep hand sanitizer everywhere, especially in my car, I use it every time I touch anything in the outside world.
    After my 3rd hospital stay of 29 days, I came out at 104 LBS, I was 170 LBS before I got sick, and I was between 170 and 165 LBS my whole life.
    I did a lot of research on diet and cancer, and I never indulge in any food not on my cancer fighting diet, never.
    Perhaps that is just me, we must all follow our own hearts, and the advice of our doctors.
    May God Bless You, and see you through to a full recovery.
    I will Pray for You, I hope your family, are also taking good infection control steps for your safety? ( it is so very important)

  • Daniel Malito moderator
    10 months ago

    @amber-lynch I doubt a deep fryer off amazon the day I got out of the hospital. I was down to 115lbs from 155lbs. Thge stupid hospital woudlnt even let me eat for two weeks. You’d be shocked how long a person can go without eating when you aren’t doing anything but lying down. When i got home I deepfried everything I could get my hands on to put weight back on. With the anti-nausea drugs I was able to, thankfully. Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

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