When can I start eating salads, soft cheese and the like?

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I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February this year, surgery in March (lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy), more surgery in April (axillary clearance - 32 nodes in total), chemo started beginning of May and finished 3.5 weeks ago. Radiation started last week and will finish mid December. I’m so looking forward to having salad including Camembert. When can I start eating these types of food again? Thank you 
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  • Afraser
    Afraser Member Posts: 4,388
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    I didn’t have any radiation but salad was one of the few things I could taste during chemo (it affected my tastebuds). No one suggested I shouldn’t have it. 
  • Bluehibiscus
    Bluehibiscus Member Posts: 8
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    Thanks. The advice I got was no fruit or vegetables that either couldn’t be cooked or peeled while having chemo so that left a few salad vegetables out. I usually leave the skin on cucumbers but diligently peeled them. I bought a lettuce, tomatoes etc this morning but now second guessing myself. 
  • Afraser
    Afraser Member Posts: 4,388
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    It seems that some advice centres around washing raw vegetables, which is pretty normal with salad anyway. All I can add is that I ate a lot of salad and had no ill effects! 
  • Bluehibiscus
    Bluehibiscus Member Posts: 8
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    Yes, definitely wash them well. So salad is back on the menu thank goodness. I’m really missing Camembert and Brie, hopefully I can find an answer to that as well (and it’s a positive “yes, you can eat that too” 🥰)
    Thank you @Afraser
  • Cath62
    Cath62 Member Posts: 1,311
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    I never heard of any food being off the menu during active treatment. I ate whatever I wanted to and no harm done. I eat very healthy ie lots vegetables and fruit, a little protein, nuts, grains but I don't eat sugary things or high carbs. I eat that way because that's what feels good for me. 
  • Bluehibiscus
    Bluehibiscus Member Posts: 8
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    Thank Cath62. I was told no spicy food, no coffee, no soft or runny yolks, no processed meat, no deli products, no prawns, lobster, oysters, etc as well as no raw fruit or veg that wasn’t cooked or peeled. I guess I will just reintroduce foods I used to enjoy and see how I go. My taste buds are still all over the place at the moment 
  • Keeping_positive1
    Keeping_positive1 Member Posts: 555
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    I was never told to avoid eating any certain food groups, nor not to eat raw fruit or veg that wasn't cooked or peeled.  That seems strange to me that you were told that, unless of course you have comorbidities that are of concern.  I had a full one hour (one on one) with an oncology nurse who gave me a rundown of what to avoid, it was called an education session on do and don't whilst on chemotherapy.  It sounds like they are talking about listeria concerns.  As long as everything is washed and no cross contamination is wise whether going through cancer treatment or not.   

    @Bluehibiscus can I ask who gave you the advice not to eat soft cheese?  Take care and best wishes.  xx
  • Afraser
    Afraser Member Posts: 4,388
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    Fascinating! Spicy foods are often recommended for people like me who lost most of their sense of taste on chemo - it didn’t work, couldn’t taste that either! Clearly listeria or salmonella concerns, some of those foods are not recommended in pregnancy either. But like @Keeping_positive1 I wasn’t given any food advice at all, other than to eat as well as possible. 
  • Bluehibiscus
    Bluehibiscus Member Posts: 8
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    @Keeping_positive1 this is part of a handout sheet I got

    People receiving or have recently finished cancer treatment should avoid some foods entirely. These include cold hot dogs or deli lunch meat (cold cuts) including salami, soft cheeses such as blue-veined, Brie, Camembert, feta, and goat cheese. There’s a lot more foods listed.

    @Afraser, I thought I would be fine with spicy food which I love, so had a mild spicy vegetarian dish for dinner one night. I could feel it burning my mouth and next day started developing mouth ulcers. I bought something from the chemist which cleared them within a few days so no more spicy foods for me after that experience. I’ve started trying some mildly spicy things in the last two weeks and they haven’t caused any problems (but still taste spicier than they should) 😛

  • arpie
    arpie Member Posts: 7,667
    edited November 2022
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    @Bluehibiscus - welcome to the forum!!  

    We were told similar when my husband was going thru chemo - it related more to infection control than anything else, as getting infections whilst having chemo can be really nasty, even lethal, if not treated quickly.  eg salmonella poisoning, clostridium botulinum (found in soil & on plants) and clostridium difficile (a gut bug) in particular - either from food or other sources.  Ordinary antibiotics often don't fix them - they need a special antibiotic regime to get rid of them, so need stool samples sent to identify the particular bug & which treatment is needed.

    We were advised not to eat any undercooked food (fish or chicken in particular) or 'raw cheeses' like some of the soft cheeses .... and to make sure all veg were either peeled or washed well, to avoid bacteria entering his system & making him ill whilst his resistance was low.  Sadly, he did have one nasty infection & ended up in hospital. :( 



    The spicy food gave you some hassles, so wisely, you've taken them off the menu for the time being ;)  But you'll be able to reintroduce them once you've finished your chemo - it may just take time to build up to the 'strength' you used to enjoy.

    If you start getting the Trots or develop a temperature, get checked out asap - tho most gastrostop or similar meds should fix the Trots ..... you don't want a midnight flit to the Emergency Dept!!

    take care & all the best for your ongoing treatments xx
  • Keeping_positive1
    Keeping_positive1 Member Posts: 555
    edited November 2022
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    @Bluehibiscus I never received a sheet stating which foods not to eat, so it must be a new thing.  I distinctly remember them saying we don't want you to lose much weight, nor gain much.  @Afraser my tastebuds were not the same, but it didn't stop me eating, I stopped short of eating a horse though :)

    My weight stayed stable, but I did lose some from diagnosis to surgery which was 2 months (so long), probably just dropped off me from the anxiety I was under at the time.  Well, I am here and fighting fit 6 years on from diagnosis.  Each day is a blessing and of course some side effects, but I am allowed to grumble a bit about them in likeminded company who totally understand what I have been through.  

    @Bluehibiscus I hope moving forward you are able to get back to eating what you truly enjoy. xx
      

  • Bluehibiscus
    Bluehibiscus Member Posts: 8
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    @arpie Thank you. I finished chemo nearly 4 weeks ago and started radiation last week (day 3 today) 😁. 

    @Keeping_positive1, thanks. I was told the same about losing/gaining weight. I did lose weight quickly over a short period when everything smelled and tasted horrible and I found it difficult to eat anything but once the “smell” settled I managed to keep my weight stable. At least some foods are starting to taste nearly “normal” ☺️
  • arpie
    arpie Member Posts: 7,667
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    Great that you are nearly finished with your active treatment @Bluehibiscus xx. I found the radiation to be the easiest of my treatments & luckily I didn't get any serious burns.  Just keep your moisturisers up to the area being treated xx

    I even gave myself a holiday at the end of my active treatment as my 'reward' - a week at Norfolk Island with a bunch of friends!

    Take care, all the best xx

  • ilovewhenitrains
    ilovewhenitrains Member Posts: 14
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    I have actually just been discussing this with my nurse.

    foods like deli meats, soft cheese, raw seafood (oysters, salmon, etc), sushi, unwashed fruits and vegetables, just to name a few, can carry listeria bacteria.

    since chemo can lower your neutrophils, having these foods can cause you to become really sick since you can’t fight off the infection like someone with a “normal” immune system can. It’s similar to the advice given to pregnant women to avoid these types of foods.

  • Afraser
    Afraser Member Posts: 4,388
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    Part of the puzzle about what you are told or not told is time. My diagnosis was ten years ago, and I certainly wasn’t advised about listeria. Possibly because it wasn’t so well understood
    generally. And of course chemo affects different people very differently. 
    Explanations about why something is recommended clarifies everything and need to be provided along with instructions.