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Cancer Fatigue

One often overlooked side effect of chemotherapy is fatigue. Fatigue, one of the chemo side effects,  gradually worsened with each round of chemotherapy. I didn't realize how bad I felt until a few weeks after my last chemo round. All of a sudden, one day, I had energy that was missing the previous six months.

With all the different types of cancer, levels of health, and cancer care, each person will be affected differently. It is important to know how cancer fatigue may be affecting you. Below are a few symptoms of cancer fatigue.

What are 5 Common Symptoms of Cancer Fatigue?

Albeit, this is not a comprehensive list for feeling tired, but it does cover many symptoms.

  • Muscle pain
  • Feeling tired and breathless doing everyday tasks (e.g., bathing or walking)
  • Finding it hard to concentrate or think clearly
  • Difficulty waking up in the morning
  • Unable to sleep

When to Call the Doctor about Fatigue

The American Cancer Society has listed five symptoms that may be a sign of other problems that need medical attention.They are:

  • You feel too tired to get out of bed for a 24-hours
  • You feel confused, dizzy, lose your balance or fall
  • You have problems waking up
  • You have trouble catching your breath
  • The fatigue seems to be getting worse

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Helpful Tips to Combat and Manage Cancer-Related Fatigue

  1. Stay active with short walks or easy yoga. Keeping the body in motion can have a significant impact on healing. Check with your Doctor first and always be careful if you have any issues like a low platelet count or have anemia.
  2. Rest, but not to much. Try to sleep 7 to 8 hours a night.
  3. Prioritize your energy each day and give yourself short rest breaks.
  4. Eat well and drink plenty of healthy fluids. Don't skip the protein and check with your cancer care team for what supplements you may take.
  5. Lower your stress level. Talking to a counselor may help you find healthy ways to identify and lower your stress.
  6. Distract yourself with a fun activity or doing what you love. Laughter and focusing on something positive can give your mind a break from treatment.

 

What Friends and Family Can Do to Help

It's difficult to see your loved one with lack of energy. You can be helpful and make a significant difference for them by demonstrating kindness through helpful acts. A few ideas for caregiving include; running some errands when they get too tired or taking the kids to the park for a couple of hours.

At the NIH National Cancer Institute, they have written about the importance of supporting the Caregiver.

Don't get discouraged if the patient rejects your attempts to help.  Many times there is more going on than they are willing to communicate. Other common situations that can affect how you provide care include:

  • Patients may only feel comfortable with a spouse or partner taking care of them
  • Parents may have a hard time accepting help from their adult children
  • Adult children with cancer may not want to rely on their parents for care

If your attempts to provide assistance is rejected, a thoughtful gift that will provide comfort and healing support should be a welcomed arrival.  At Chia's Silver Lining, we specialize in uniquely curated gifts going through the cancer journey. Shop Here for more ideas. 

Cancer Care