(Information extracted from Julie C.  (2009). Eating well: A practical guide for people living with leukaemias, lymphomas, myeloma and related blood disorders.  Lilian D, (Ed.). Australia: Leukaemia Foundation.)

When you are first diagnosed, you have a great deal to cope with both emotionally and physically. The shock of the diagnosis may mean you don’t want to eat or even think about food.

Eating well before your treatment begins can help to give you more energy and strength to cope with treatment.

Many people find that their normal pattern of eating changes while they are having treatment. During treatment and for some time afterwards you may not feel like cooking or eating the same amount or the same types of food as usual. This is normal.

Many people lose weight during treatment. This is particularly true for people undergoing their first intensive hospital period after the diagnosis of acute leukaemia or those undergoing a bone marrow or stem cell transplant. If you are having a transplant you may wish to prepare your body beforehand by choosing to eat more protein-rich food and by having some regular exercise.

Here are some tips to help prepare your body and build up your strength before a bone marrow or stem cell transplant:

–         Eat small nutritious meals often during the day and include protein with your meals

–         Try to do aerobic exercise like walking at least three times a week

–         Exercise with a friend

–         If you feel okay, try some light weights to build up muscle strength but go easy and only train with weights every second day on a different muscle group, e.g. upper body and arms one day, abdominals and legs another day (no more than 2-3 times/week)

–         Drink plenty of water (when training, sip water every 15 minutes)

–         Get plenty of rest and sleep

–         If you can, go away for a short holiday with family or friends before your treatment begins

–         Make the most of this time to really get fit, healthy and positive. It will serve you well throughout the coming months.

Before you start treatment it is a good idea to have a dental check-up. It is important to make sure that your teeth are in the best possible condition before treatment begins. After treatment your gums may be too sensitive for dental work.

* This information booklet is available for browsing at Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation, located at Novena Medical Centre, Singapore. Alternatively, for more information, you can visit the website of Leukaemia Foundation.

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