Feeling tired and lacking energy

Feeling tired and lacking energy (fatigue) is the most common side effect of chemotherapy. Fatigue can include feeling exhausted, drowsy, confused or impatient. You may have a heavy feeling in your limbs, get worn out quickly, or find it difficult to do daily activities.

Fatigue can appear suddenly, and rest may not relieve it. You might still feel tired for weeks or months after a treatment cycle ends. While fatigue is a common side effect of chemotherapy, it can also be a symptom of depression. For more information on depression, visit beyondblue and talk to your cancer care team.

      — Judy


Listen to our podcasts on Managing Cancer Fatigue and Sleep and Cancer


Tips for managing fatigue

  • Plan activities for the time of day when you tend to feel most energetic.
  • Allow your body to recover by taking regular breaks.
  • Make time for regular exercise. Light to moderate exercise can reduce treatment-related fatigue and improve mood. Talk to your health care team about suitable activities for you. See Exercise During Cancer, to find out about suitable exercises, and to watch our helpful series of exercise videos.
  • Ask for, and accept, offers of support from family, friends and neighbours. They can help with shopping, driving, housework or gardening.
  • If you have children, ask trusted family and friends to look after them during your chemotherapy sessions and to be on call in case you become unwell afterwards.
  • Find ways to manage anxiety and/or trouble sleeping as these can affect fatigue. Relaxation or meditation exercises may help improve your sleep or give you more energy. Call 13 11 20, listen to our relaxation and meditation audio tracks, or listen to The Thing About Cancer podcast episodes on fatigue and sleep.
  • Consider trying acupuncture – some studies suggest this may help reduce physical tiredness after chemotherapy.
  • See our information on poor appetite, nausea and/or vomiting.
  • Check with your doctor whether your fatigue is related to low levels of red blood cells (anaemia). Anaemia can be treated.
  • Discuss the impact of the treatment with your employer. Some workplaces may allow you to work flexibly during or after chemotherapy. Options include taking a few weeks off, reducing your hours or working from home.

Click on the icon below to download a PDF booklet on Chemotherapy.


Printed copies are available for free - Call 13 11 20 to order

Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4059

Kobo

To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit: http://www.kobo.com/help/koboaura/response/?id=3784&type=3

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit: https://au.readerstore.sony.com/apps_and_devices/

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200767340&qid=1395967989&sr=1-1
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200375630

Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.


This information was last reviewed in August 2018
View who reviewed this content
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Cancer information

Managing cancer side effects
Detailed information on coping with the most common side effects experienced by people with cancer

Fatigue
Fatigue is the most common side effect of cancer treatment. It can happen during or after treatment.

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