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New here. Mother has just had op for secondary liver cancer - diet advice please

Rachel G
Posted by

Hello all. 

My 83 year old mother has just had 80% of her liver removed (28th dec) - secondary cancer - she had colon cancer op a year ago.

Her op this time was worse than anticipated. She had to go to London, and the tumour had grown since the last ct scan. She spent 6 days in ITU, and 10 days in HD/ main ward until her discharge. She was only then discharged because I agreed to empty/measure/  look after her wound drain, which was still filling at a high rate, and she was unable to eat more than 2 or 3 mouthfuls of food.

Since she has been with me she has eaten well (she is a vegetarian who eats fish) - from the moment she got here.  I only needed to drain her bag 3 times before it dried up completely. (DN has since removed bag and dressed)

However her need to empty her bowels now catches her unawares - or at least - too quickly for her to be able to get to the toilet on time.

I am trying to figure out what she can and cant eat (low fat, low salt) - whilst trying to build up her strength for when she goes home (I can fill her freezer!!) 

any advice please?


Posted by

Hi Rachel

Wow.  Well done you.  And what a fantastic job you are doing caring for and supporting your mum.

I don't have any experience of your mum's cancer, but maybe you could ask your mums hospital team to refer you to the dietitian.  They are the experts on all things nutrician.  The District Nurses might also be able to help you.

Take care xx

Posted by

Hi Rachel,

What a powerful woman you have for a mother. My mum had that op 18 months ago and its not for the faint hearted!! As suggested you can go back to the specialist nurse or the Macmillan help line for further information. My mum had fliud retention and we were guided to try and use protein. Still very early days for your mum and we were happy if she ate an egg and toast with a build up drink supplied by the doctor in one sitting. She also ate a lot of fish. Small but often was our game plan.

Each week made a great difference and it sounds as though your mum is making great progress under your care. Would she be open to having a little temporary help to ease her back into her own home?You could seek adivise from her GP too , make it as smooth as possible. However , I know independent people sometimes are not keen.

Take care,






Rachel G
Posted by

Thank you for your reply. Must admit I feel a bit alone on all this!! The DN's are great but as she is staying with me in a different county to her home county (neither of which is London where she had her op) ... do feel like we are falling between county lines!! xx

Rachel G
Posted by

Thank you Court. She should have had 2 weeks worth of build up drinks when she left hospital;  - according to her discharge notes (my brother picked her up, not me - unfortunately!)  - but none came back with her.

I am happy with her progress in many ways, - she no longer has to take anti-sickness meds she was discharged with (3 different types) and - is hungry all the time (no doubt making up for her lack of food previously!!)

You mention to use protein - do you mean a high protien/ low carb diet? She loves cheese but we have already realised that it doesn't love her!!

I plan to take her home in a few days time (I run out of leave this week) - and although we have talked about care she is indeed a proud woman, and this may be hard for her to accept. I plan on visiting her GP when I am there - maybe they will have more luck than me. 

Thank you again for your advise and support

I wish I had logged on here sooner!



Posted by

Hi Rachel,

Visiting her GP is a great idea. It would be good to firm up a few details. My mum still gets her blood 's taken to check her liver function and sent to the hospital where she had her surgery. It started weekly and pushed out to monthly. I remember reading that there was only about 60 of these extensive operations done yearly here in Scotland. So sometimes some details need to be worked out. Her GP also wrote a presecription for appropriate drinks. Then at least you know thats covered. They also have years of experience helping people become more open to some help. Although I do admire her courage, it seems to propel them on.

Some details have started to slide but I think the protein was just to aid recovery. Your mum sounds as though she is making a very fast recovery . My mum was slowed down with an additional three stones of fluid retention and it required some journeying back and forward to try and shift it.

I am however pleased to report she is now the proud owner of a very odd shaped but fully functioning liver. You should see it ! I am sure some junior radiologist is given the fright of their life when they scan her.

I wish you both the very best. I know you must be exhausted too!!

Take care,Court

PS. My mum also referred herself for an occupational therapy assessment as she was struggling to get in and out the bath. She was just a bit weak. She never mentioned this to me despite being in daily. She waited so long she had recovered by the time they came. Of course had she been a bit less determined and told me then she might have got a solution to her problem earlier considering I am infact an occupational therapist. I fully understand the independence factor you are talking about