Childhood Cancer

Childhood Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors

Nutritionists and dietitians

It can be very helpful to consult with the hospital nutritionist to obtain more information and ideas about how to add more protein, calories, and vitamins/minerals to your child’s diet. You can also consult with a private nutritionist who has experience with both children’s nutritional needs and those of cancer patients. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) is the country’s largest group representing registered nutrition professionals. It awards the Registered Dietitian credential to those who pass an exam after completing academic coursework and a supervised internship. You can consult the ADA’s website at for a list of dietitians near you.

I had two quite different experiences with hospital nutritionists. At the children’s hospital, I couldn’t get the doctors concerned about my daughter’s dramatic weight loss. She was so weak she couldn’t stand, and her muscles seemed to be wasting away. I finally asked them to please send in a nutritionist. A very young woman came in and talked to me about the major food groups. I felt my cheeks begin to flush, and my eyes glistened as I said, “I know what she is supposed to eat; I need to know how I can make her want to eat.” I must have sounded a bit crazy, because she just handed me a booklet and backed out the door.

The next week when my daughter began her radiation, the radiation nurse took one look at her and called the nutritionist right down. This nutritionist was very warm and caring. She helped me understand that I needed to think fat, protein, and calories, and she gave me lots of practical suggestions on how to boost calories. I think that she probably saved my daughter from tube feedings.