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.