For many people, extreme or constant tiredness (fatigue) can be a major problem, particularly as the cancer advances. You may find feeling fatigued distressing and frustrating. Some people say the fatigue is worse than any pain or nausea they’ve experienced.
Fatigue can be caused by a range of things, such as:
- anxiety or depression
- poor sleep
- progression of the cancer
- anaemia (low red blood cell levels)
- cancer treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- loss of weight and muscle tone
- drugs such as analgesics, antidepressants and sedatives.
Tell the doctor or nurse if you think you are becoming weaker or more fatigued. If anaemia is making the fatigue worse, it can be managed. You may be referred to an occupational therapist who can teach you ways to save your energy.
I had to accept that I was dealing with fatigue and celebrate small improvements. I had to be careful not to overdo it and whatever help people offered, I took. That was very challenging for me but it helped.
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
Prof Nicholas Glasgow, Head, Calvary Palliative and End of Life Care Research Institute, ACT; Kathryn Bennett, Nurse Practitioner, Eastern Palliative Care Association Inc., VIC; Dr Maria Ftanou, Head, Clinical Psychology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and Research Fellow, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, VIC; Erin Ireland, Legal Counsel, Cancer Council NSW; Nikki Johnston, Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner, Clare Holland House, Calvary Public Hospital Bruce, ACT; Judy Margolis, Consumer; Linda Nolte, Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia; Kate Reed- Cox, Nurse Practitioner, National Clinical Advisor, Palliative Care Australia; Helena Rodi, Project Manager, Advance Care Planning Australia; Kaitlyn Thorne, Coordinator Cancer Support, 13 11 20, Cancer Council Queensland.
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