How to Fight Cancer-Related Fatigue
Cancer and its many treatments are notorious for major side effects. Fatigue is one of them. While our job is to act as your liaison, it is important that you or the person you love pays attention to any changes caused by the treatment. We believe in journaling your symptoms (and even one to chronicle your emotions) is the best way to know when you feel tired so you can take the steps to combat it.
Please be aware, whether or not you anticipated having to endure fatigue as a part of your treatment, don’t just expect to feel miserable and exhausted. In other words, never write off fatigue or any symptom as standard. Your fatigue could be due to many things for example, anemia causes fatigue, and certain injectables like PROCRIT® can be a big help. A synthetic hormone, it stimulates bone marrow to produce more red blood cells which in turn raises your hemoglobin level.
Otherwise, if your medical professional determines there isn’t anything underlying cause for your fatigue, you can be proactive about handling it. Your life routines will require some adjustment. We think a good approach to managing your fatigue is to look at it from a conservation perspective: when you have a storehouse of energy, you use it as you need it.
For example, there may be certain times of day or cycles in your treatment when you are more energized. As you start to learn when those are, you can “exploit” them to your advantage:
- Be proactive and say ahead of the fatigue curve by getting sleep before you feel exhausted.
- Even if you are not a planner by nature, try to schedule your day so the things requiring the most energy are done during those periods; you’ll avoid potential frustration with yourself.
- Most people who say they want to help, do. If the time of day when you are tired is in the mid-afternoon when it is time to pick your children up from school, count on a trusted neighbor to assist so you can rest and feel more refreshed by the time they come home.
- Pace yourself and prioritize tasks; you have things to get done, but getting well is also one of them.
- Observe your dietary guidelines. Proper nutrition will help provide that much needed energy.
- Yoga and other relaxation techniques like breathing exercises may be a great solution for you.
- Alternate sitting and standing as doing one or the other for too long can make you feel more fatigued than you actually are.
- Have someone in your life with good organizational skills help you brainstorm ways to make your home more organized and what you need, accessible. Managing clutter in general will help you to expend less energy searching and stressing.
- Talk to your oncologist about your job duties and if they can choose a treatment that has less impact on your work performance.
- Your oncologist will also be able to tell when you are expected to feel the most fatigue, when blood counts are at their lowest during treatment.
To say that a cancer diagnosis changes your life is an understatement. But with some support and planning, you can focus your energy where you want, when you want.