No Energy and Appetite Poor

Hi there just looking for some chat … My mum is currently going through chemo treatment… She is 79 years of age and it’s really tough on her … She has no appetite and eats very little, try to get her to drink supplement drinks but she fights me on that at times too … In the last month her energy levels have practically disappeared … Is this the chemo or is this the cancer taking its toll? We are so concerned as she was a very sprightly woman for her age. We try food little and often but when she eats she can be sick too … We are finding this difficult and hard to watch … Has anyone any advice?


Hi @Mandy2

Great post!

Fatigue hits most people with age and moreso with people with blood cancer.

When you have the weight of a cancer diagnosis it’s sometimes difficult to do anything to benefit the long term as it’s easy to have a “what’s the point” mentality. Which to be honest is very much justifiable.

We know we should be doing a lot more but finding the energy and motivation is really tough at times.

The best way is to mask it and not force it upon anyone!

Just sitting with them with some dry snacks and having a chat and drink may encourage them to drink more. Thinking to my parents of a similar age, going to the park with my little nephew and niece certainly gets them moving. And accompanying them for a walk or even going going to the shops and supermarket gets those steps in.

I’m rubbish for drinking water but having small glasses and a bottle of water to refill is better than having a litre bottle is proving better for me. It’s a bit like food where if you see a huge plate full of food the mere sight can fill you up!

Doing anything by yourself is always a challenge but with the right company it can get the ball rolling! :slight_smile:


Hi @Mandy2 it must be so, so hard for you watching your mum having very little appetite and eating very little and of course if we do not eat we loose energy and weight.
I think it is natural not to want to eat if that might make me sick too.
Perhaps just leave a drink, a food supplement and a couple of foods she can pick at have within reach so she does not feel pressurised and watched to eat.
Personally (not a medical response) I think any food is better than none, drinking is obviously important,
You ask whether this is the chemo or cancer, that is a question for your mum’s medical team and your mum really needs to tell them how she is feeling and that she is not eating or drinking. Will she let you go to medical appointments with her.
How are you doing?
The Blood Cancer UK nurses are there for you @BloodCancerUK_Nurses and the Blood Cancer UK support line is 0808 2080 888
Please look after yourself as well as you look after your mum and please keep posting.

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Hi Erica, your advice is very welcomed but probably what I’ve been trying to do. I feel I’m putting mum under pressure by trying to get her to eat and drink more than what she is capable of doing. … she is also coeliac as well which makes food choices more difficult To be honest we sometimes end up having words (all out of love) then I feel the guilt … Especially when she then throws up because she is trying to please me. I today resurrected our bullet smoothie maker, I made her a smoothie which she said was easy to drink, banana, porridge oats and peaches with milk, she doesn’t know but I also sneaked a wee 1/2 of supplement vanilla drink so that was good!! I think I might get some recipes for those if it’s getting goodness into her.
Mums specialist nurse is due to ring her tomorrow, so we will find out then if she can get her chemo on Tuesday. Any good smoothie recipes I’d welcome lol!
As mums main carer it’s a tough journey but we still look forward to brighter days ahead after treatment.
Thanks all


Hi Rammie, thanks for your message, you are so right. Unfortunately at the minute for mum to even go to the next room is a struggle … She would love to get to the shops but impossible at the minute.
I spend time with her a lot now … but it would be nice to share good times rather than talking about food and drink . We might just have to do online shopping lol
Better days ahead x


Apologies I definitely misread the situation…

Definitely small steps to build it up… like some chair exercises. Me and my sisters brought that revitalive that Ian boatham has marketed that helps with circulation. (Basically a vibrating plate)

Yes not being alone and spending time together is definitely a superb course of medicine

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Chemo nausea and sickness is debilitating
The thought and smell of food makes it worse
Is mum on any anti sickness medication

Once Chemo sickness starts it can often be hard to break the cycle too.

Chemo also alters the taste of food some foods can taste like cardboard and make the mouth dry.

Little and often of foods that she enjoys cake chocolate anything it doesn’t matter as long as it’s something

Food supplement drinks taste and smell awful at times

Your smoothies sound lovely maybe add a bit of ice cream into the mix
Homemade soup

Lucozade is tolerable as long as not fizzy

Just keep in mind chemo alters taste and how your mouth feels and sense of smell can be heightened making nausea worse

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Hi @Mandy2, thank you for sharing and I’m so sorry to hear about this- appreciate it must be so tough for you. It’s good to hear your mum has a call with the Clinical Nurse Specialist soon- perhaps these concerns can be raised then? The team may be able offer further support and advice and perhaps even a referral to a dietitian may be indicated?

As others have said please don’t hesitate to reach out to to us if you’d like to talk this through at all. We also have these webpages on the topic of eating well that also link to further resources, in case this is useful at all.

Take good care and remember we’re here for you.
Best wishes,


Hello Bea, I was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) 9 months ago and experiencing similar symptons as your dad. My taste is not affected but I have the lack of energy and appetite. I also experience bouts of anxiety (not normal for me) I have lost 2st in weight (now weighing 6st.) despite my family’s efforts to ‘build me up’. I feel nauseas at the very thought of drinking those milky meal supplements. I’m not having any treatment yet - just on Watch and wait so these symptons are down to the cancer. My consultants don’t seem to be concerned about my weight as long as it remains stable.
I’ve adopted a ‘little and often’ eating plan which suits me as long as I avoid junk food!!
My best wishes to you and dad. angie18


Hi @Mandy2
Just a thought, but has your mum been given anti-sickness tablets? I am on cycle 11 of my treatment and was prescribed Metoclopramide for nausea and they are a miracle drug - taking away any sicky feeling withing 20 minutes!
Also, I wonder whether, in your desire to be caring and helpful, you are making this more of an issue for your mum? I know that I would not take kindly to my son frequently mentioning food and drink! Sounds like your mom is bright and intelligent as so probably knows herself what she ‘should’ do, but then, as in my case, taking action is a more complex matter. Perhaps just drop the subject and let her take back control - when one is already being controlled by blood cancer and the treatment, the last thing you need is even more loss of control.
Hope this doesn’t come across as harsh, but I can so easily put myself in your mom’s shoes and this reflects what I would feel and need from my son.


Agree with the metoclopromide anti sickness

I’m a single parent so I took charge of my food and told my kids what I wanted to eat

I don’t think I would have tolerated them keeping on about food either
It was bad enough having to keep filling a menu in in hospital when I couldn’t eat and being sick.

I stocked up my freeezer with Anabel Karmel toddler meals
My favourite was chicken tikka as I could taste that


Hi, I don’t have any advice but wanted to thank you for the smoothie idea with oats. I am going to make it for my Mum.
My mum is 68, she has Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) with complications and has been in hospital now for 5 weeks, she had a week of intensive chemo 4 weeks ago and is also refusing to eat. Today the dr said if she doesnt eat she will end up being tube fed. Trying everything we can to get food into her. She will have supplement drinks, but only 1 or 2 a day which is only 300-600 calories.
Fingers crossed for the smoothie.

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