Before I get chemo, Doctor Li wants to check my blood to make sure I’m healthy enough to handle the chemo. I got a chance to see the results from my blood tests before my second round of chemo. Most things were good, including the counts of my red and white blood cells and my platelets. I had two problematic areas, though – my hemoglobin and hemocrit levels were low and my liver enzymes were high. None of it was bad enough to cancel chemo, but it was something to watch. In fact, Dr. Li ordered a blood test of my iron levels that day. Blood tests after chemo are great – since the needle is still in the port I don’t need another hole put into my veins.
My iron levels must have come back low, because Dr. Li ordered iron infusions on the weeks I’m not doing chemo. Now, I would like to avoid any more drugs put into my system, but at the same time I need enough iron for my red blood cells to function correctly. Therefore, I’ve tried to add more iron rich foods to my diet in the hopes of avoiding the infusions. This has involved a couple of changes. I’ve been trying to eat more greens (Swiss chard in particular, this time of year), and I’ve been eating eggs more often. The eggs are easy since my mom’s chickens have started laying. Nothing better than fresh eggs from a known flock of chickens! I’ve also looked for more iron-rich snacks to eat, like nuts and sesame-based crunchies.
The other trick to adding iron is to make sure I get some vitamin C at the same time I’m consuming the iron. The vitamin C helps the body to absorb the iron more effectively. At lunch, it’s not a problem since any fruit I’m going to eat is full of vitamin C (it’s blueberry/peach/watermelon season around here). At snack, I might add some dried fruit to the nuts I’m eating. I also am sure to drink juice when I take my daily vitamin.
My liver is a little trickier to help. StatsGuy heard from a colleague who went through chemo last year (for stomach cancer) that avocado can be beneficial to the liver, so he went out a bought a couple. Too bad I eat them so slowly, since the second one went bad before I could eat it. The other thing I’m doing is cutting out alcohol completely. It’s not something I should have often on chemo (since it’s a blood thinner), but I had a couple of beers on vacation. I figure my liver doesn’t need any more work to do, and alcohol is an easy one to cut out. We’ll see how I’ve done when I go back on Thursday for the next round of chemo. I’m hoping the problematic numbers at least held steady, but I won’t know for a few days.