Neutropenia is a common but yucky side effect that affects about half of cancer patients on chemotherapy or treatment with a biological agent (like Nexavar).  When a cancer patient is neutropenic, it means that her white blood cell count is low and she is much more suceptible to infection.  She is given direction to avoid possible sources of infection, to stay away from crowds, to wash hands and insist that others wash hands before coming into contact with her, and to change her diet to avoid the risk of infection from food. 

All foods must be freshly cooked.  None can come from restaurants or uncontrolled sources.  Bread must be bagged and not homemade.  Cutting boards must be changed between preparation of meats and other foods.  No deli meat.  No deli cheese.  No hand-packed or soft ice cream or froyo.  No soft cheese.  No popcorn.  Nothing from a bakery.  No raw veggies, fresh fruits, except those with a very thick skin (oranges and bananas), or dried fruits.  No spices, salad bars, buffets, or restaurants.

I’m pretty sure the guidelines would say no contact with little children who bring home infections from preschool, but what can I do?  I have two who need me, and one is home sick today.


24 Responses to Neutropenia

  1. Sunday says:

    Wowza! That is quite the list of Don’ts! But, here are a list of Do’s I just thought up:

    Do hold hands with your sweetie!

    Do lavish kisses and hugs upon your little boys (maybe not as much for the sickie little guy)!

    Do read an engrossing and completely frivolous romance novel!

    Do watch re-runs of your favorite childhood TV show!

    Do make homemade play-doh and create snakes, lizards, and frogs!

    Do ask a *healthy* friend to come over and create your favorite recipe in your kitchen!

    Do color in a coloring book!

    Do make paper airplanes and have distance contests with your family.

    Do eat chocolate!

    Do read all those blogs you have been meaning to catch up on!

    Do ask your hubby or a friend to pick up a pretty pot of spring flowers you can keep on your desk!

    Most of all….

    Do remember we all love you! ❤

  2. Well, at least you didn’t grow a brand new penis. Right? Because that’s where my brain was heading, because I’m immature like that.

    And I really hope you are laughing right now as you hear my voice in your head reading my comment.

    xxoo, Dev

  3. Ah, Sunday, I love that list! And I’m so glad that chocolate isn’t on the banned-foods list 🙂
    I hope Little Bear feels better soon. I’m at home with Fainjin today – he was ill yesterday, is a box of birds today but can’t go to daycare until Friday to be sure it has passed. Lots of love to you, Susan!

    • whymommy says:

      Whew! I’m just glad to hear from you – I know you’re not near Christchurch, but still! Hope everyone in your family is ok after the quake–

  4. elesha says:

    Thats a lot to think about when going into making a meal. You will probably find some favourites and stick to them the whole time. I hope it does not last for long…is there a time frame for this sort of thing?? And Im glad chocolate was not on that list two… I know your chin is up and your facing this bump like the others head on.xx

    • whymommy says:

      I think this is very temporary for me, Elesha. I’m lucky. I know women with lupus and depressed immune systems who fight this sort of thing all the time. I’m kind of just visiting the neighborhood of neutropenia until my counts go back up.

  5. Amy says:

    This is so off topic, but I loved Kate’s description: her son “is a box of birds”. Love it!

  6. Stimey says:

    I object to all of this. 😦

    I really do love Sunday’s to-do list though. Start at one and work your way down. I’m so sorry. I can only imagine how tired of side effects you must be. Huge love to you.

  7. Pam Richardson says:

    Hi Susan,
    Your cousin Betsy Henning sent me your blog.
    I’e been praying for you for some time now.
    Glad your blogging, it helps to know how to pray for you and your family.
    Sorry to hear about the latest set back.
    I admire your courage to move forward, and stay so focused.
    Praying for God’s many blessing by upon your life during this difficult journey.
    Warmly, Pam

  8. DO remember how very much you are loved!!!

    xoxo CGF

  9. NYFriend says:

    Awww, I hope Little Bear is better soon, and everyone else manages to avoid his bug. It is amazing how many germs the kids seem to carry around with them. We have our monthly illness right now too.

    I just love Sunday’s to-do list too! What a great idea! So what are some of your favorite childhood TV shows? We just introduced the Brady Bunch to the kids on Sunday night – they thought the first episode was boring. Oh well! Maybe they’ll like Mork & Mindy or Happy Days better…

  10. […] posted at Toddler Planet, February 22, […]

  11. Susan,

    Thanks for dropping by my site and for your kinds words. I really like your writing too and have you bookmarked so we’ll just have to keep meeting like this! A scientist, yet! Impressive that you’ve got both sides of your brain going. I’m sorry about your recurrence last month and would like to know how you continue to do. Obviously you’re a busy bee, doing positive things, which spells fighter!


  12. Adam says:

    And all along I thought neutropenia was the next quantum particle the CERN supercollider was going to look for after they found that Higgs thingamajigy. (Here’s to hoping that was a funny in your day and not a forehead banger.)

  13. About chocolate … we’re actually hearing for a while now taht the dark stuff form cocoa (at least 60 percent dark cocoa) is a good thing for us warriors! Though the article I read suggested only an ounce a few times a week. Who can stop at an ounce? What a tease! You think 4 ounces all in one hit, once a week works?:)


  14. magpie says:

    I hope that your white blood cells bounce back. Thinking of you.

  15. Kristen says:

    may it be quick, quick, quick!

  16. Yikes–I developed neutropenia and was hospitalized. Nothing better than overly-cooked hospital food and no flowers to make one feel better!
    Still praying for cancer to disappear….
    🙂 Lisa

  17. kimmer says:

    I’m late to the discussion and glad you are no longer neutropenic but wanted to comment. When I was neutropenic and got the list – I thought it was hysterical to get a diet list that forbade fresh fruits and vegetabels but explicitly listed twinkies and oreos as foods to eat.

  18. […] turns out, that’s in large part due to the massive dose of experimental drugs I was on, the neutropenia the meds induced, the highly elevated blood pressure, and the kidney infection that I battled […]

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