The members of PanCAN’s Survivor Council bring hope to those currently fighting the disease. Not only do they ensure the survivor perspective informs all of the work PanCAN does, they have a wealth of knowledge to share with the community. Here, in our final story for Nutrition Month, members of the council generously share some of their experiences navigating nutrition throughout the course of their diagnosis, treatment and survivorship. From connecting with a dietitian to enjoying an occasional piece of fruit while managing diabetes, Survivor Council members share some of the things they’ve learned along the way.

Ray Shupe“After my total pancreatectomy in March 2013 and when I started chemo in April, I had a craving for fresh fruit, particularly citrus. I was afraid to eat it because I had no pancreas and worried about the carbs. Finally, during one of my quarterly checkups with my surgical oncologist, I also met with a dietitian on the team. I was given the go ahead to eat citrus but cautioned to monitor my blood sugar. I also had some other lessons from the dietitian, particularly about proteins. To this date I still love a cold orange.”  – Ray Shupe

Lisa Beckendorf“This helped me after my pancreas surgery and was recommended by my physician: Trader Joe’s Papaya and Pineapple Enzymes. These tablets helped while I (and my pancreas) was recovering as a lot of food didn’t digest as easily. I think these were in the days before Creon or Zenpep.”  – Lisa Beckendorf

“My response to anyone battling cancer would be to look into what type of supplements might help with your specific cancer. Always talk to your doctor and oncologist. They are the experts. I am fortunate to have doctors who have been supportive and also believe in holistic health. Another important part of the health team is having a dietitian. Many cancer treatment centers and hospitals have a dietitian on staff. If not, ask a doctor for a recommendation and they will most likely know of someone.” – Teona Ducre

“It’s important to stay hydrated but sometimes during treatment I found it hard to drink a lot of water. Ice chips -- either plain or lemon flavored -- are easier for me to tolerate during treatment. Eat small meals more frequently. Other snacks and foods that I liked: Low-fat fruit flavored yogurt, almonds, scrambled eggs, bone broth and smoothies. I tried to avoid ice cold drinks as they caused stomach cramps.  Room temperature drinks were better.”  – Roberta Luna

“About ten years after my distal pancreatectomy, I was diagnosed with diabetes. At first, I tried to cut out all carbs and sugars, but that was not sustainable. Now I am intentional about what carbs I eat. It was relatively easy for me to cut rice out of my diet. But I love to eat fruit and good bread, in moderation! I monitor my blood sugar and see that exercise can offset carbs too!” – Anne Shimabukuro

“My advice to patients and caregivers is keep it simple. Think more fruit, veggies, fish, nuts and beans; less sugar, salt, red meat and processed foods.” – Clayton Mansfield

PanCAN strongly recommends that patients have access to pancreatic enzymes and see a registered dietitian. Patients should always consult with their doctor or registered dietitian before making any changes or additions to their diet.

Contact a PanCAN Patient Services Case Manager
For free, in-depth and personalized information on diet and nutrition, contact PanCAN Patient Services.