My Little Bs Have the Big C

A Breast Cancer Blog For Young Women

Battling Anemia

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Ever since my last infusion of AC, I have been battling anemia.  This is not something a little rare burger can fix (mmm….rare burger, how I miss you).  This is the kind of anemia where they actually need to stick me with a needle and give me someone else’s blood to make sure I can get out of bed without being out of breath.  That kind of anemia.

The last time I got an infusion, I also caught a virus that landed me in the hospital.  One didn’t have to do with the other but I never got to feel the benefit, the pep, that comes with a blood transfusion.  But my counts were doing ok.  For a while.  Then the last couple of weeks, those counts started to drop.  My oncologist said she wasn’t worried (that’s what she’s supposed to say) but if my hemoglobin dropped to an 8.0 or below, I would need another transfusion.

A blood transfusion isn’t an awful thing.  It doesn’t hurt.  You don’t feel a thing.  It’s just that it takes an insane amount of time (6-7 hours) and there are gross bags and tubes of someone else’s blood going into your body.  It’s psychologically unpleasant.  But that’s it.

So a few weeks ago my count dropped to 9.6.  Then 9.2.  Then last week it was 8.6.  Dropping, dropping, dropping, slowly like a deflated balloon.  Naturally, I figured that this week my count would be somewhere around 8.0 and that would be it.  I made plans.  I arranged for childcare.  I picked the movies I would watch.  I was ready.

That doesn’t mean that I didn’t do everything I could to prevent this from happening.  For a while now, I have really worked hard to increase my iron intake.  Lots of kale, lentils, potatoes, pumpkin seeds, raisins, etc…  But it wasn’t making a dent.  My nutritionist helped me figure out what to eat but said that I shouldn’t get discouraged if I ate everything I was supposed to eat and it didn’t work.  Chemo is stronger.  Well, at least it was.

This week I introduced liver into my diet.  I have been trying to avoid it.  For no good reason, really.  I like liver, although I’ve never eaten calves liver before.  But I made it my mission to eat everything I could.  I figured it wouldn’t work.  Actually, I was sure it wouldn’t and that tomorrow I’d be hooked up to the blood bags.

I’m happy to announce that whatever I did worked.  Like I said, last week my hemoglobin was at 8.6.  This week it was at 9.1!!!!  Now, that’s not a huge number.  I’m not going to be running a marathon any time soon.  But it’s moving in the right direction.

I think this feels great because at least, this week, I feel like I am in control.  That if I do the right things and I’m a good girl I will get good results.  It’s hard to feel in control when you have cancer.  It and the medications control you.  But this time, this week, I controlled my fate.  I beat chemo.  I put chemo in it’s place.  (Cue ninja tableau)

Here are a few of the meals I’ve been preparing.  Yum, yum!!!!  Do you have any delicious, high iron meals you’d like to share?  Please post them here on the blog.  Like a recipe book for everyone going through chemo to look through.  It would be a great resource.  And I could use some variety and inspiration.  I think I’m going to try this recipe next.

Vegetarian Lentil Sweet Potato Soup made in the crockpot!  So yummy!!!


This is before it cooked for 10 hours. I forgot to take a picture of the result.


When anemic, you might as well have some duck liver mousse.


Calves liver. Not my favorite but it’s better than a blood transfusion. I’d love more recipes.

Calves Liver  Ken made it for me.  He let it sit in milk for a couple of hours, sauteed some onions and portabello mushrooms, dredged the liver in flour, sauteed it then deglazed the pan with butter, red wine and beef stock.  I liked it a lot.  It was served with kale and mashed potatoes.

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