Food and Cancer

How Mary Greeley helps patients maintain good nutrition while facing a challenging disease.

Food and nutrition play a key role in the cancer treatment process. It is important that cancer patients eat foods that will help them maintain strength, fight infection, and enhance their health. They need foods that will help them cope with the disease and its treatment.

That’s not always a straight-forward prescription, though, because the disease – and the people who have it – vary so much.

“Cancer affects every patient differently,” says Lynn Maves, RD, LD, CDE. “Some may just be starting treatment, while others are looking for guidance to maintain their health after treatment. Some have side effects from treatments, while others do not. We often hear about people who lose weight due to cancer treatment, but many people aren’t aware that some cancer treatments cause weight gain that can cause problems as well.”

Cancer Nutrition Program

The whole nutritional picture comes into focus in the Cancer Resource Center of Mary Greeley Medical Center. There, dietitians address cancer patients’ unique nutritional issues.

For example, cancer and its treatments are notorious for contributing to changes in appetite, taste and smell. These changes contribute to a decline in health and nutrition status for the patient, which can result in making it difficult for the patient to deal with future treatment and recovery. Discussing options to offset these side effects may help these patients to stay as healthy as possible during the process.”

Based on a physician’s referral – and usually, all you have to do is ask your doctor for one – a nutrition counseling appointment with a dietitian is made through the Cancer Resource Center.

“Patients come to us with a variety of different diagnoses, treatment regimens, symptoms, knowledge base and support,” Maves says. “All of these things play a part in how they perceive food and make food choices. There’s also a lot of information online. Some of it is good and some not so good. With this program we can take the time to help patients sift through the material they’ve found and identify the best food choices for their particular needs.”


Maves says there are many ways to measure the program’s outcome, including success in weight management and increased comfort while eating. But, she says one of the biggest measures is patient satisfaction.

“When the program debuted in 2014, we sent out surveys regarding satisfaction to our patients,” she says. “They always came back very positive. Today, we regularly hear glowing feedback from patients and their support people. It’s very gratifying to be able to help people during this journey.”

Nutrition counseling is provided through the Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center. In addition to serving cancer patients, the center’s dietitians also help people with weight management, heart disease, Celiac disease, eating disorders, wound healing and other conditions. For more information, call Diabetes and Nutrition Education at 515-956-2880.

The Cancer Resource Center and Diabetes Nutrition Education Center are supported by funds donated to the Mary Greeley Medical Center Foundation.

Request an Appointment

The Cancer Resource Center is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m., or by appointment. For more information, call 515-956-6440.

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