Dietitian's Week.jpgHi I am Neha, Macmillan Oncology Specialist Dietitian in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at MCH. 

Like every year I would like to take Dietitians Week as an opportunity to celebrate our profession. Dietitians Week 2021 will be taking place from 7 - 11 June 2021.

We're working hard to make this another fantastic celebration of Dietitians, dietetic support workers and future Dietitians to be. As an Oncology Dietitian my role is an essential part of the cancer patient undergoing curative or a non-curative treatment pathway.  My job is to apply clinical nutrition therapy that focuses on managing symptoms, preventing weight loss and maintaining optimal nutrition status since the start or post cancer treatment. 

Studies demonstrate the value of nutrition interventions from working with a Dietitian on functional outcomes, including improved tolerance to treatment, reduced treatment breaks, decreased weight loss, confidence in food choices and quicker recovery post treatment. Proper nutrition is essential for living well during and after cancer treatment. Dietitians are the nutrition experts who can help people understand proper eating for their specific conditions.

My mother was diagnosed with cancer, so that played a huge role in my decision to become an Oncology Dietitian. During the treatment her weight loss was dramatic and nutritional support was not readily available within that cancer centre.  It was then I decided to devote the remainder of my career working in an area where I had passion.  

After some soul searching, I realised that my passion was to work as an Oncology Dietitian for the cancer patient group. My primary role is to work with the multi disciplinary team to identify patients who are at high risk of malnutrition or significant weight loss and to work with those patients to maintain their nutritional status pre and post treatment. I’m also a resource for aiding nutritional support to patients with tube feeding, on nutritional supplements, diet education, community activities, and general counselling.

I am working alongside the Oncology Consultants, various surgical teams, Clinical Nurse Specialists, Palliative Care Team and other health professionals in the acute and community health settings. Dietitians work with passion to help patients maintain their weight and meet their nutritional requirements as far as they are able to do so, and reduce their risk of developing other complications.  

In certain cases, patients may need to follow more specific dietary restrictions, and then I provide practical advice on how to do this safely. I also provide written information and recipe ideas or can arrange for patients to receive suitable oral nutritional supplements if needing hints for taking food with nausea or have a poor appetite to assist with feeding tubes.

I remind myself the importance of being  an advocate for my patients. I support patients by making sure they meet their goals for calories, protein and fluid in order to assist them with completing their planned treatment. Dietetic goals include preventing treatment interruptions, helping to ease side effects, and improving their overall quality of life. My patients are always so grateful for my help and that is extremely satisfying.

You can find out more about what Dietitians do by visiting the British Dietetic Association >