Cancer and HIV, 25 pounds lost - mostly muscle


I have been HIV + since 1989. I started meds in 1998. I did do well on AZT and switched in 2007. All was well with my labs. In February of this year I was given the diagnosis of Breast cancer, Stage 3 C. During A/C chemo and a mastectomy, I lost 25 pounds that I did not have to lose. I am wasted and facing 6 weeks of radiation. I have no energy. The high sugar diet I tried brought on thrush and a yeast infection coupled with the antibiotics after surgery. I stopped my HIV meds and anti-depressants. I could not eat every day and it seemed like it would not matter much anyway whether or not I was on meds. Constipation could continue for a week at a time, relieved only by Fleet enemas.

I am 3 months out from surgery and while physical therapy, changing my diet to red meat and fresh vegetables seem to help with yeast and no further weight loss, my fatigue is still enormous. The constipation is ever present. My oncologist wants me to restart all my HIV meds again. I am willing to do that, but would prefer to be in better shape. Meals are a real chore, I can have the best intentions to heat a can of Puck soup, but I tire so easily, am often too tired to eat after preparing. A cancer advocate suggested a blood transfusion may help. I am losing my mind and my family is frustrated as I am with my physical limitations.

Is there a diet or exercise regime I can start that will help me make faster gains? The PT is mainly for Lymphedema, stretching my surgical site and some conditioning.



I would recommend:

  1. Restart your HIV meds and antidepressants immediately.

  2. Talk to both your physical therapist and oncologist regarding optimizing your diet and possible taking dietary supplements and appetite stimulants, and consider a consultation with an HIV-and-cancer-knowledgable nutritionist.

  3. Transfusions are only recommended if you have severe anemia.

  4. Follow up with your HIV specialist physician without delay.

Dr. Bob