It is common to feel very tired during or after treatment, and you may lack the energy to carry out day-to-day activities. Fatigue for people with cancer is different from tiredness, as it may not go away with rest or sleep. You may lose interest in things that you usually enjoy doing or feel unable to concentrate on one thing for very long.
Let your treatment team know if you are struggling with fatigue. Sometimes fatigue can be caused by a low red blood cell count (anaemia), or be a side effect of drugs or a sign of depression, all of which can be treated. There are also many hospital and other programs available to help you manage fatigue.
- Set small, manageable goals for the day, and rest before you get too tired.
- Plan breaks throughout the day when you are completely still for a while. An eye pillow can help at these times.
- Leave plenty of time to get to appointments.
- Ask your doctor about what sort of exercise would be suitable. An exercise physiologist or physiotherapist can help with safe and appropriate exercise plans.
- An occupational therapist can show you relaxation techniques, breathing exercises and ways to conserve your energy.
- Consider acupuncture – some people find it helps with fatigue.
- Say no to things you really don’t feel like doing.
For more on this, see our general section on Fatigue and cancer.
Podcast: Managing Cancer Fatigue
A/Prof Brett Hughes, Senior Staff Specialist Medical Oncologist, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, The Prince Charles Hospital and The University of Queensland, QLD; Dr Brendan Dougherty, Respiratory and Sleep Medicine Specialist, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; Kim Greco, Nurse Consultant – Lung Cancer, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; Dr Susan Harden, Radiation Oncologist, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; A/Prof Rohit Joshi, Medical Oncologist, GenesisCare and Lyell McEwin Hospital, Director, Cancer Research SA; Kathlene Robson, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council ACT; Peter Spolc, Consumer; Nicole Taylor, Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma Cancer Specialist Nurse, Canberra Hospital, ACT; Rosemary Taylor, Consumer; A/Prof Gavin M Wright, Director of Surgical Oncology, St Vincent’s Hospital and Research and Education Lead – Lung Cancer, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, VIC.
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