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Gastro Esophageal Support Group: January 14, 2019

A new support group is offering comfort and advice to patients who have undergone a difficult procedure. “It’s patients who have either had gastric or esophageal cancer, and many of them have actually had part of their stomach or esophagus removed,” said Taylor Lawless, a clinical dietitian with Lee Health.

A common procedure that, at first, can dramatically alter a patient’s diet. “Once you’ve had your stomach removed, it’s really hard to get proper nutrition. If you don’t really keep track of your nutrition afterward, if you don’t really focus on choosing foods that will stay with you, or taking the right vitamins or mineral supplements, it can be really hard to maintain your weight,” explained Lawless.

Lawless works with patients before and after surgery to get them comfortable with their new diet. “It’s all about finding foods that are easy to digest and things that won’t go through them too quickly because they don’t have that holding station that they had before,” she said.

In most cases, the dietary changes are not permanent—and patients can expand their pallet and portion sizes within a year after surgery. “They can do really tender chicken, they can do rice, they can do eggs, they can do a wide variety of low fiber things,” said Lawless.

The gastroesophageal support group meets once a month to share their experiences before and after surgery. “It’s nice to know that you’re not the only person in town who is missing a stomach or part of your esophagus. That support is really important,” she said.

Offering patients support and guidance before and after surgery.

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