It is common to feel tired and lack energy during and after treatment, particularly if you’ve had both radiation therapy and chemotherapy. The tiredness may continue for several months, or even a year or two, after treatment has finished.
Feeling tired is not only a side effect of the treatment itself. Travelling to hospitals and clinics for treatment can be exhausting. If you work during your treatment or if you have a family to care for, this can make you feel especially tired.
It may be frustrating if other people don’t understand how you’re feeling. See more information about support services that can assist you.
Tips for managing fatigue
- Gentle exercise during and after treatment has been shown to boost energy levels and reduce fatigue. Even a walk around the block can help. Ask your doctor about the amount and type of exercise that is right for you.
- Plan your day. Do things at the time of day when you feel less tired.
- Rest regularly. Keep a journal to track your “good times”.
- Talk with your family and friends about how you’re feeling and discuss things they can help you with, e.g. housework and shopping.
- Limit daytime naps to 30 minutes so they don’t make it hard to sleep at night.
- Don’t expect to be able to instantly do everything you used to do right away. Your body is still recovering and it will take time for your energy levels to return.
Podcast: Managing Cancer Fatigue
Dr Pearly Khaw, Lead Radiation Oncologist, Gynae-Tumour Stream, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Deborah Neesham, Gynaecological Oncologist, The Royal Women’s Hospital and Frances Perry House, VIC; Kate Barber, 13 11 20 Consultant, VIC; Dr Alison Davis, Medical Oncologist, Canberra Hospital, ACT; Krystle Drewitt, Consumer; Shannon Philp, Nurse Practitioner, Gynaecological Oncology, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and The University of Sydney Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery, NSW; Dr Robyn Sayer, Gynaecological Oncologist Cancer Surgeon, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Megan Smith, Senior Research Fellow, Cancer Council NSW; Melissa Whalen, Consumer.
We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.