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Beating Bowel Cancer Community

Bowel cancer treatment and side effects


In desperate search of my appetite ?

Hi guys
I hope you are all well. I've had a break from the forum for the last month or so as I suffered a bereavement which really hit me very hard and i needed time out.!

Treatment wise though things have moved on and i had my low anterior resection last monday 15th May during. Overall i have found the pain to be the hardest thing to manage as well as getting used to my shiny new stoma who i've yet to name!
Recovery wise i am doing OK, i am home, i can walk short distances and I can change my bag. I have a complete lack of energy and am tearful sometimes but guess thats to be expected.

My main concern and the thing stopping me from recovering further is that my appetite has just completely and utterly disappeared. I'm finding this so hard and almost unheard of for me. I love my food usually. its also really upsetting me as i dont want to lose weight and i kmow i need the calories / strength to heal etc. I wondered if others would mind sharing whether you experienced this? If so how long did it last? Any tips of things that are easy to eat that will be less likely to make me heave. I can feel my tummy is hungry but absolutely nothing appeals. I have just forced down 3 ginger nuts. Really hoping others have had similar as my worry is this could be a psychological issue- in hospital and even sometimes at home, emptying my bag makes me gag. ?

Please can someone tell me they were back to eating curries in no time! ?

Thanks In advance for any advice, tips, help, i am at a real loss! :x::x:


@Sussex34 - I didn't have a stoma but I did have a fairly big surgery on my bowel and I found eating afterwards incredibly difficult without being sick. Here are some of the things I started off with, moving on with complexity further as you get down the list... keep your energy topped up with fruit juice & keep hydrated too. My surgeon said low fibre is best for couple weeks out of surgery but this is what I could manage:

Cocopops or rice pops & milk
Rice cakes (dry)
Rice cakes with a bit of cheese
Soup (cream of chicken)
Mashed potatoes & beans
White bread
Ritz crackers
Ice cream
Apples (no skin & chopped up)
Pear (no skin & chopped up)
Plain chicken on white bread with tiniest bit of mayo
Jacket potato & beans & cheese but not the skin
Cheese or chicken pasty
White pasta with cheese & boiled peas & dash of olive oil
Gnocchi & herb butter


These sorts of things helped me to just eat... then as my body go used to lower fibre I started to introduce higher fibre.



Well done on getting through your big op @Sussex34 I can completely sympathise with you!! I recently spent a month in hospital when I had both small and large bowel resection as well as full hysterectomy and removal of right kidney/ureter........and more! Nausea and vomiting was a real issue for me. My hubby bought me protein shakes which although not that pleasant, were easier to get down than solid food. Cornflakes with milk was another staple and I do remember one day I had them for breakfast lunch and dinner! My appetite has improved a bit but I think I'm still losing weight (I had plenty in reserve ?) Nibbling on popcorn might be helpful for you and perhaps ice cream. Both of these were useful to have something in my stomach. It's not easy but I'm sure will improve given time and patience. It's very early days for you just now so be kind to yourself. Sending hugs and healing vibes ????❤️


Hi @Sussex34 Great your treatment plan has moved on. I am 5 weeks post op for emergency bowel tumour removal and stoma fitted and like you had poor appetite and no energy for the first 2/3 weeks. The pain also greatly improved and now I am doing practically everything prior to surgery apart from lifting heavy things with no pain or discomfort. I had a similar diet to @Jen82 initially and gradually introduced most foods. Had my first curry last week and for me no problems. Tiredness has greatly improved since I have been eating more. I was shocked when I woke up from surgery and found I had the stoma but to be honest I have got used to it now and havnt really had any leaks or problems with it {yet}!! Dairy is the only thing that gets it a bit excited and slightly misbehaves! Good luck with your recovery and appetite returning :x::x::x:


Hi @Sussex34 - I was exactly the same - didn't want to eat at all - but it does eventually come back.

I made the mistake of focussing on my bowels and ate a 'good' diet of fruit, veg & fibre which went straight through without touching the sides.

You need protein and carbs. It's important to try eat something - little and often - to keep your strength up.

I couldnt eat more than a couple of mouthfuls for a while so be patient and don't worry.


Lady B

Hi @Sussex34, sorry to hear of your bereavement but happy your surgery has gone well and it's sounds like your recovery is going well too. I love my food but lost a stone in the first couple of weeks after my op (6th March) but I have now put over half of that back on. I could only manage a few mouthfuls of food initially but my appetite did start to increase and I was back to my normal eating habits after about 3 weeks, even curry! I also had a couple of days where I felt quite low and very tearful so all you are experiencing is very normal. I also hated changing my bag but again after a couple of weeks it was fine. Please don't despair, you will be back to your normal beautiful self in no time ?? :x::x::x:


Hi @Sussex34 my hubby already had a colostomy and had a further resection in January this year, in hospital he had anti sickness before meals and we continued this for about a week when he came home, he ate small meals when he came out at first and tried to have snacks in between and had things like custard, yoghurts, puddings both milk and sponge, whole milk and plenty of fish and chicken for protein - I'm sure the anti sickness helped him with his appetite but he really found little and often was the best way in the first couple of months as well as plenty of rest - things will improve I'm sure.

Take care & lots of love :x::x:


@Sussex34 hi there. My daughter had her bowel surgery and stoma fitted 15th may 2017 and the first foods were white bread and marmite and white bread smooth peanut butter.

If you think of the healthiest high fibre diet you have to go into reverse to avoid possible blockage and irritation. But protein is so key in healing and building strength.

Everyone will react differently to foods but for protein it has been cheese, smooth peanut butter, tofu, fish and eggs. Not too many eggs as they can be gasy. Also low acidic foods so no citrus fruits, pickles etc. Avocado is very good, plain smooth yogurt, banana, and some smooth savoury things like smooth liver pare, smooth taramasalata, and guacamole.

I've done masked up root veggies and things like mashed carrots, sweet potato, butter squash then bind with a beaten egg, dipped in white bread crumbs and fried like fritters. Ricotta cheese is great to fold into a mashed avocado with a sprinkling of parmesan and toasted on a white crumpet.

Fine oat cakes a handy standby with marmite (packed with b vitamins) and or cheese.

We've steered clear of all red and processed meat.
Peppermint tea good to reduce gas and feelings of bloatedness.

My daughter has been taking the liquid probiotic Symprove throughout all her chemo, radiotherapy and surgery. The nutritionist at the hospital also advocated this brand as there has been significant results in research that it does improve healthy gut bacteria which, with the low prebiotic diet necessary with a stoma and bowel surgery, is an important consideration.

I hope some of this helps. I know you won't feel like cooking so do the easy things first but hopefully you'll improve and want to experiment. For example here is what I've prepared today and something maybe you could do with a friend:
Butternut squash lasagne using ready prepared Butternut squash cut straps from sainsburyou using a layer of bechamel sauce with Ricotta cheese folded in, then a layer of cut and fried tofu, a few cut mushrooms stirred in with some red pesto sauce, a sprinkle of parmesan and repeat: bake at 160 for 45 mins. But you'll make up your own recipes.

I'm no cook by the way. Just want my daughter to heal and she has her liver surgery in 2 weeks.

If there is anything I can do to help let me know. This is a such a supportive forum and all you amazing people undergoing treatment for this cancer blow me away and I derive such strength from you all. Big hugs :x::x::x::x:


@Jen82 @Baxter2 @Delboy @Lady B @helens @Trinity @eyeofthetiger @Kareno62 @Barbara @Bridget55 THANK YOU ALL! Really kind of you to take the time to give me so much advice and tips. I have had a really tough couple of days struggling to believe that i wont feel like this for ever, you have really cheered me up and reasured me that its not just me who has found these problems. By way of an update i have just had a little snack of crackers and guacamole...i actually enjoyed it and didn't have to force it! ? Thanks again :x::x:


I lost my appetite but it's gradually returning. I went down the route of eating whatever I fancied. I had flash cravings and tried to get whatever it was I fancied then, because I would go off it as fast as I wanted it.

Mrs Rufus65

Hi @Sussex34 My hubs got "Stanley"the stoma on March 6th and to start with he didnt eat very much-had Ileus in hospital & didn't eat for 10 days so was very slow to want to eat much when he got home as he feared being sick but his favourite was chicken soup-only a 1/4tin to start with-now eats whole tin with 3 rounds of bread he also liked rice pots & jelly.Cornflakes and Frosties also went down well now he manages Fish & Chips with mushy peas & likes a steak pie with mash & carrots.He's just started Chemo now so appetitie has gone abit again.As for the smell-I put bits of tissue up my nose and it really helps with the unusual"Stanley Smell" & means I can always help out with cleaning him up as the glue is sometimes a bit hard to get off underneath.Glad u enjoyed the crackers & remember this is only a blip-you will get back to being you again just try & be kind to yourself while your getting there.Hugs :x::x:


Thanks Kat! Thats what i'm doing now, eating what i fancy when i fancy it instead of trying to do meals which is quite overwhelming! X

Quote from @KatB:
I lost my appetite but it's gradually returning. I went down the route of eating whatever I fancied. I had flash cravings and tried to get whatever it was I fancied then, because I would go off it as fast as I wanted it.


@Mrs Rufus65 thanks so much! Sounds like your hubby is doing well i'm so pleased! The day i am
Able to eat and enjoy fish and chips (and maybe a little glass of fizz!), i shall know i am then well on my way! Good tip re bits up nose. I've always had a sensitive stomach and my sense of smell is shall we say very well developed...this experience is on a parr with the smell of the shared toilets at glastonbury 2 years ago!! ?? i am sure i will get past it and apparently it improves once the overall output 'thickens up'! As i'm writing this I'm chucking to myself about this week and last, both my mum and a complete stranger have helped me wash and seen my starkers, here we are discussing the smells of our bags...god you have to laugh don't you or i'd seriously cry! ? On a positive i'm off to sit in the sun and do not much else, ☀️life is good! Enjoy your weekend :x::x:


Just a little update from me in case anyone stumbles upon this thread post-surgery feeling miserable like i did. Appetite did indeed return at just over 4 it is back with a bit of a bang! Have to be a little careful about portion sizes and what i eat due to the bag but i am craving tasty food once again! ?? Even had a little bit of chinese takeaway the other night for my dads 60th. anyway if you are reading this with no appetite...have hope it will get better with time.

Polly 1

Good to hear @Sussex34 :x::x:


Thanks for the update @Sussex34
Be warned....soon you will be complaining about putting on too much weight!?


@Lizalou ha! Yes i don't think it will take me long to regain the weight i lost! ? :x:

Lady GT

Great update @Sussex34 . Very pleased for you and it's also nice to see these threads followed up with some good news. :)


@Sussex34 great that your appetite returned
I didn't see this thread earlier, but I remember my surgeon saying it takes weeks, even up to 2 months for appetite to return fully. That's not to say don't eat before this point but the craving/desire for food disappeared.
It sure did for me and I forced myself to eat to keep weight on!
Good luck with continued recovery and getting used to bag.


That's great to hear @Sussex34. I have my appetite back after surgery too.. such a relief ??:x::x:


@Lady GT thanks..i just thought it may help someone going through the same worry! :x:
@kdan they never told me that it would happen..would be good to be forewarned! thanks very much and all the best to you too :x:
@HopsiFAP yes such a relief In❤️ Food! ? :x: