I discovered this forum topic and wanted to share my water fasting experience (which includes unsweetened teas).
I recently completed 4 infusions of A/C over two months. The first time I heard isn’t so bad but then it can bite you, so this was my anticipation. However, I could not have been more pleased with my experience!
I didn’t fast the first time, just rested a lot after, and after a few days, I started daily light fitness, usually an hour of walking or biking, and also went on a longer hike once a week. Except after the 4th infusion where I really took it easy, I increased my physical strength throughout the chemo, getting stronger. Fitness was an important chemo countermeasure, but fasting was #1. Note that although light daily fitness activity was a priority between treatments, I always took it very easy after infusions, for up to 3-4 days. Listen to your body.
I started water fasting for A/C infusion #2 and was expecting it to be worse, but the side effects were essentially cut in half from #1. I fasted 2 days ahead of chemo and then a full day after, totaling around 80 hours. I found that on fasting day 1 when hunger pangs are stronger, light activity, walking or light work, helps reduce this.
As for A/C chemo #3 and #4, same positive experience, I didn’t even have to take nausea meds and my headaches and fatigue went down. I did have light side effects overall, treatable things, but I was thriving all through the strong chemo.
Weight loss from fasting wasn’t an issue. It would go down but then spike way up the day after chemo (water and inflammation?) and then go back to normal. I am intentionally gradually losing 20 lbs / 9 kg over 5 months of chemo to get to my ideal healthy weight.
A/C is cumulative and I did cumulatively have energy loss but usually was back to normal by day 5. I also had strong heart palpitations on day 4 after infusion 4. I stopped my fitness for over a week due to this. 10 days after A/C I honestly felt better than 10 days before, due to my healthy countermeasures (and a fun purple wig from Etsy : )
Now I am starting 12 weeks of weekly Taxol and I am cutting my fasting time in half to 40 hours. I start at bedtime, fast a full day, then do a morning chemo and eat a light lunch mid-afternoon. With A/C I had no desire to eat the day of or the morning after chemo, but with Taxol I was happy to eat.
I have had a great experience with water fasting and wouldn’t want to do chemo without it. I think it made the chemo easier on my body (and also over time, my body adjusted to the chemo). I feel very healthy and have not had a bad experience at all. I think fasting is especially important if you have a cancer that’s less responsive to chemo. It gets easier to do as the body gets used to it.
Good luck with your treatments!
I fasted on weekly paclitaxel- 24h before and after. Even 12h before and after can be helpful- I made sure I maintained my weight by eating a lot on none fasting days.
I am about to start 12 weeks of weekly Paclitaxol with Carboplatin every third week. I’m really interested in the fasting but wonder if anyone has tried it with weekly chemo? Im only 52kg abd already lost some weight so I don’t want to lose any more.
Hi Peaches, I’m a Walter longo follower. I didn’t fast per se, but did do liquid diet day before, day of and day after chemo. I was on FEC-T. Tbh, that’s all I could get down! My hubby made soups everyday from organic, fresh vegetables. I was always cold during chemo so I was a winter woolly girl. I bought out H&B and found Manuka honey a godsend for preventing ulcers and thrush. T tree toothpaste I thought helped a lot. Epsom salts by the 100cwt for aches and pains. Visits to the salon for nail treatments...dark varnish NOT gel! No nail loss, and hair loss towards end of treatment . How lucky was I? Sending good wishes for an smooth journey. 🍀💐
Thanks for the luck! I hadn't heard about ice packs for your hands and feet. Could you link to where you got yours from? Did you wear them for the whole 4 hours? I'm guessing you would need spares if you did. Thank you for Valther's name and the info about the steroids! So much to think about and prepare, my first session is in three weeks after my fertility treatment, so thankfully I have a bit of time.
Thank you Kitkat. That's basically what I had found too and I struggled to put it into words that even though the research shows more research needs to be done, I would still like to consider it, so this will really help me talk to my team about it! And yes, that's a really important thing to consider, if you need to eat more of a certain type of food because your levels are low, not eating for 2 out of 7 days, in this case, may hinder getting your levels up. This is really helping me make an informed decision, thank you.
Thank you Sparkle, that's really good to hear. I might try one cycle without fasting to see how I get on 🙂
good luck with paclitaxel. I fasted day before and day of chemo when on pacli. Was doable. I ate plenty on the other days so did not lose more weight. I also used cold gloves and ice on my feet to protect against peripheral neuropathy. I have come through with minimal neuropathy and hardly any nail changes. If you look up Valther Longo the evidence he has accumulated so far(which includes human breast cancer trials) indicates that fasting around chemo reduces side effects by protecting healthy cells and increases the stress on cancer cells so they are more vulnerable to chemo. I also persuaded my team to reduce dose of steroids as I had no reaction to pacli- they can only do this after 3 infusions because pacli can cause a very bad allergic reaction.
Not that I profess to be an expert on fasting😁... I’ve only researched a bit before starting chemo myself in July....but just wanted to say perhaps speak with your team before undergoing any fasting just so they are aware of your choices.
Im sure you have done lots of your own research but just thought I would share what I found. I found that A lot of the evidence is expert opinion and not systematic reviews or methodology that allows you to study the validity/reliability of the research... .. however there are definitely some, but I found these to conclude that more research is needed to establish any clinical efficacy.
I decided against, although that said, I’ve lost around 4kg during chemo just due to having horrible slime mouth and having no appetite. My weekly bloods have shown low calcium and potassium levels the further I have got down the chemo line...at one stage ( around 9th paclitaxol) my calcium was so low that they almost delayed my chemo ( they let me have it in the end!) ....so it’s been really important for me to eat foods high in calcium and potassium every day, just to keep my levels up.
Am definitely not trying to put people off, just wanting folks to be aware of some other implications of fasting.
Good luck with chemo everyone
I don’t know if it’s helpful to hear, but I have not fasted at all and only had minimal side effects whilst on EC, which dissipated after a week, lessening each cycle, and haven’t had any side effects whilst on weekly Paclitaxel so far. If you’re only fasting to avoid side effects then it might be worthwhile trying one cycle eating normally to see how you get on.
I'm starting weekly (12) paclitaxel in a couple of weeks and I'm also wondering how to fast on a weekly regimen. This is my first stage of chemo and I've only just heard about fasting so I'm very new to this. I'm thinking fasting 3 days out of 7 could be a bit risky. How have you got on with it? xx
I started weekly paclitaxel today after 4 lots of fortnightly ec. With ec I fasted every cycle, initially 2 days before and 24 post. On final one I did a fasting mimicking diet for 5 days with a few nuts, veg broths, rice crackers and kale/ berry/ lemon/ flax seed/ ginger smoothie. I definitely had the fewest side effects for this last cycle. My main se With EC is dizziness on standing up for the first day or two. I learned that when lying down it was important to sit for a few moments before standing and when I remembered to do this I was okay. My main questions are around details of how to fast on a weekly regimen. I have just fasted around 42 hours pre-treatment and plan to fast for another 16 hours minimum post treatment. I have done this as a water fast as I am fasting for less time. It is quite hard though as I feel less ill from pacli than I did from EC (immediately afterwards) Any experiences?
I realise you posted a couple of weeks ago so have probably found your own answers to your questions. I just wanted to say that I have also completed 4 x AC (all fasted) and have had 3 out of 12 weekly treatments of Paclitaxel. I’ve never had a problem taking steroids on an empty stomach. I did ask the pharmacist why they needed to be taken with food and he said “because some people get reflux” - but fortunately I didn’t.
Now that I’m doing weekly chemo I’m not fasting as long - only 24 h beforehand and around 12 afterwards. I worry it might not be having any effect - but can’t face doing a 72+ hour fast every week!
Good luck & I’d love to hear what you decided & how you’re going.
I have finished with phase one which was four treatments that I just finished nearly two weeks ago was a combo of Adriamycin and cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) fluorouracil (5-FU) I took four steroids and four zofan for nausea right before chemo treatment. I took all four treatments fasting, even fasting while taking the steroids. Fasting while maintaining a good diet I believe has helped minimize the symptoms of the chemo and visually it has been working. I will start phase two of weekly tratments for 12 weeks of paclitaxel (Taxol) On Wednesday. I have to take 5 steroids 12 hours before then another 5 steroids 6 hours before for my first treatment. That's 10 steroids I need to take while fasting, not sure if I should do this. Kinda debating, has anyone else fasted taking this many steroids? Or maybe I should just eat something small just when I take the steroids? Anybody have any thoughts or suggestions on this??
Good morning hip5rogmom
I’m glad to hear your treatments are going well. I’m in agreement re no carbs, and I feel our diets are important.
Thank you and good luck to you too for tomorrow xx
Hi, I have a diet of mostly veggies fruts and hormone free grain and veggie fed chicken and fish. I believe a diet with no carbs and no sugar is a must and helps with SE of chemo. I fasted my first treatment around 16 or so hours before and then only 5 hours after and I felt great, the first night I had a SE from the steroid they gave me in my IV the next day I didn't take my steroid prescription cause I didn't feel sick at all, I took them later when I realized the steroid was for more then just feeling nauseous.
Anyway over all I only had one bad day and it was over a week after my first treatment and if I had to put blame on anything it was the pizza I had for dinner the night before. I haven't ate any carbs since and good riddance. I believe a strick diet is also key with treatment.
I have my next treatment tomorrow, going to fast again and see how everything works out. I like the idea of drinking coconut water, very smart. I however will just be keeping orange juice with me and some peanut just in case I feel weak during the treatment.
Good luck to everyone and your battle with cancer. My heart goes out to those who are having a bad time with chemo treatments and I hope somehow what I did that helped me helps you also.
Good morning Laura,
I didn’t fast for the 72 hours, but I completed the intermitted fasting. I drank at least 5 litres of water and 1 litre of coconut water. I ate fruit during my session and put travel sickness bands on as soon as I left the hospital.
I hope this is helpful xx
Hi, I have found out today I’m having AC and start on Monday - I’m having it every 2 weeks. I want to fast 48 prior to my first one and 24 hours after as I’ve read lots but I’m looking for a buddy who is on AC too and looking to do fasting or has done it? I’m a bit concerned about the anti sickness tablets and steroids on an empty tummy x
How are you?
I will be having the same as you (AC), did you have a side effects? And how was your second cycle? X
Many Thanks x
well fasting not going so well but not so bad either lol . Had an apple yesterday and some eggs in the evening. Today just had an apple. Apart from that just black coffee and water. Im starving tho. Got chemo tomorrow.
Hi. Had my first chemo 27th December and suffered very severe nausea for the following 7 days.
It is now 48 hours till my next chemo. Have had a decent breakfast and plan to fast to see if I get fewer side effects for my next chemo.
So water it is for the next 48 hours 😮
When they say the side effects are easier and less they don't mean none existent! My blood counts still went low and I felt rough and tired BUT I was never sick, I did not have diarrhoea for days on end and I did not get mouth sores, thrush, peeling skin or anything else unpleasant.
Like you I seemed to bounce back a lot quicker than other people and it was the contrast between the mice that did it for me. Have you seen that video with the mice? If not I will link to it but it is on here somewhere.
Well a quick update - AC#1 hit me like a freight train in the evening (around 3-4 hours after the infusion) - nausea, dizziness, headaches and exhaustion. I was a bit taken by surprise as I'd had some idea the SEs usually hit after a couple of days (maybe I got mixed up with other drugs). I was miserable and also disappointed the fasting hadn't been a 'magic bullet' after all - I'd been secretly hoping not to experience anything much!
Day 2 was much of the same: nausea, sleeping a lot, and basically feeling like everything had been stripped out of me and I was just an empty shell incapable of doing anything except stare blankly at the ceiling (or sleep). But day 3, I woke feeling much more human and thought maybe I'd turned a corner, went for a 25 min walk and could eat normally (later went downhill and got very tired again).
Today I feel ALMOST back to normal, with just slight nausea (but have not taken any meds), a few taste alterations (water isn't any good, can't stand the thought of coffee or anything sweet etc) and tiredness which is probably more to do with a very disrupted night thanks partly to my daughter deciding to rearrange her room at midnight. It's now about 72 hours since the infusion and I feel mostly back to normal.
So overall... I wasn't sure in the beginning that I'd fast again, but now that I'm feeling better, I'm thinking - if the SEs from AC normally last a week, I will gladly water fast for those 48 hours beforehand if it means limiting the worst effects to a couple of days (while hopefully also causing more damage to the cancer cells). The ~22 hours fasting post-chemo were easy, I couldn't have eaten if you paid me.
OK - well good luck with it and just in case you don't know, it is far more important to fast before the chemo than after. So if you are struggling concentrate on the before
That switch over that you mention is your body going from energy in your gut to stored energy (your fat stores). You have to deplete your gut and the glycogen in your liver before that happens. If you fast for 36 hours or more regularly that switch becomes so automatic that you don't notice and it is why people say "eating makes you hungry".
There are lots of health benefits to water only fasting so please try to stick with it.
Ok I've now had my first dose of AC which went ok (not as bad as I'd feared). I've now been fasting for 56 hours with another 22 to go! I found it got VERY difficult from around the 36 hour mark (I was very lightheaded and weak), but just before 48 hours something switched, and I went back to feeling normal! It was a huge relief as I was thinking I wasn't going to be able to do it again next time. Now I just need to wait & see what the side effects are.
Wow Melba72, even semi-fasting on Christmas Day shows a lot of grit! I'm really glad to hear you're feeling good.
I'm only 10 hours into a planned 77 hour fast (a bit over 48 hours before my first chemo on Fri, then 24 hours from the expected finish time). I have no trouble physically (don't even really feel hungry) but psychologically it's torture! I just WANT to eat because I REALLY like food! The same thing happened when I did a couple of 48 hour practice fasts. I always find myself back on Google, searching for scientific articles and anecdotal reports to reinforce why I'm doing it (but I think I've already read them all ).
Anyway this thread has been very helpful and it's really nice to know that others (even if only a few) are also doing it.
Well I had Herceptin every 3 weeks for 18 rounds and that gives you aches and pains so I took 2 claritin hay fever tablets every day. This is why:
I also had a massive amount of water retention which lasted for ages but my doctor said it would take about a year after my last one to shed that and he was right.
Now I feel and look fine. Once the Herceptin was over the aches and pains stopped after a month and the water retention stayed but gradually it all went in the end.
Thank you Blueash. I did read some of your earlier posts (I think from a couple of years ago!) where you talked about fasting & how you felt it had helped limit your side effects compared to others who didn't fast. I'm interested to know how you're going this far out from the end of treatment. I know a lot of people complain of ongoing issues (pain, tiredness etc) long after chemo has finished and am wondering if you have any of that?
I also strictly limit sugar & flour & fast around 16 hours most days, but I haven't been able to go keto, I'm mostly vegetarian and love my veggies & legumes so would really need a LOT of good evidence to make me give all that up!!!!
Hello, I fasted during chemo and still fast regularly now to keep my blood chemistry in check. I tend to have One meal a Day and put in a 3 day fast every now and again.
If I ever have more serious issues with disease I would seriously consider a keto diet but for the moment I limit flour/sugar but I do eat some carbs and fast for 22 hours or more every day.
It is only a habit that most of us graze all day and the advice to eat 6 small meals a day to keep your metabolism up is outdated. At the end of the day it is your body so the decision must be yours but enough of us have done it to prove that it does make your chemo journey easier to cope with. Read/watch all you can on the topic. I took all my steroids on an empty stomach and had no issues.
I know this thread was started a couple of years ago but has been added to more recently so I am hoping to find someone else who is either currently fasting or intending to fast through chemotherapy. I have my appointment with the medical oncologist next Tue so don't yet know what regime they have planned for me (nor the start date) but have been told I need 6 months of chemo. A colleague with very similar BC characteristics had 3 months of 3-weekly AC then 3 months of weekly Taxol so I'm thinking I might be in for something similar. I've done daily intermittent fasting (on & off) most of this year and have also done a 48 hour water-only fast so I do know what is involved. I intend to tell the oncologist & am afraid he'll be against it but am committed to trying anyway.
Fasting realy helpt al lot! Compared with the first 2 rounds when my wife didn't fasten! A very very big difference. We could still walk 10 km a day! She felt ok. She used to eat 48 hours before the chemo until 48 hours after the chemo only some fruit and/or vegatabels. And drunk tea or water. She did that until the 9 cycle. So the everyday walk and the fasting helped a lot. After chirurgy she was NED. People in the hospital where amazed of her fitness during treatment!