When you are diagnosed with cancer, your doctor, your friends and others will likely give you tips or share personal experiences with you. What they might not tell you is how much fatigue you can expect to endure.
In truth, they may not be able to. Everyone’s experience is different. Some people are able to keep up their regular routine and feel wiped out at the end of the day, while others will struggle just to get out of bed. Learn what might be causing your fatigue and steps you can take to manage it so that you can perform your daily activities and enjoy life.
Aside from the cancer itself, a number of factors can bring on the exhaustion and low energy you feel. Addressing any secondary health or emotional issues you may be undergoing, including any combination of the following, can give you a much needed boost.
- Side effects of treatments and other drugs
- Reduced appetite
- Other health problems, such as being overweight, having heart or lung problems and diabetes
While your energy is limited, concentrate on the things that matter most to you. Decide what is meaningful and what must be done. Then, look for ways to delegate, put off or skip those tasks that are less significant and leave you feeling drained.
Fight Fatigue with Food
Nutrition can have a substantial bearing on how you feel. Use every snack and meal as fuel for increased energy. Skip junk and processed food as much as possible. Opt for fresh, whole foods instead. Pick ingredients packed with protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Treatments, medications, fevers and side effects such as vomiting or diarrhea can lead to dehydration, which can cause fatigue. Start and end each day with a large glass of water. Keep a water bottle with you throughout the day and refill it as needed. If drinking is difficult, try ice chips or popsicles as well as medication or salve for cracked lips and mouth sores.
Although it may sound like the last thing you want to do when you are feeling worn out, regular physical activity can actually help you feel better. Exercise can give you more energy, help you sleep more soundly and decrease depression, making you less prone to feeling fatigued overall.
Anxiety, depression and stress can decrease your immune system and increase fatigue. Look for ways to lessen them in your everyday life. Try journaling, meditation or prayer. Practice deep breathing and mindfulness exercises. Talk to a loved one, join a support group or seek professional counseling.
R & R
Listen to your body and make sure you get the rest and relaxation you require. Give yourself permission to take a break or a day off and put up your feet. Take naps without guilt when you need them. Allowing yourself to take it easy can be vital to not only overcoming cancer-related fatigue, but battling cancer as a whole.
Talk to Your Doctor
Although some fatigue is to be expected, your healthcare provider might be able to help. For instance, your doctor may try switching prescriptions, providing options to help you sleep or diagnose anemia and other conditions that could be contributing to your weariness and offer remedies. A quick phone call, email or visit may be all that it takes to get you back on your feet again.