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 or the side effects of drugs, and 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.
- Say no to things you really don’t feel like doing.
- Leave plenty of time to get to appointments.
- Ask your doctor about what sort of exercise would be suitable. Even a gentle walk around the garden or block can boost your energy levels.
- Ask for and accept offers of help with tasks such as shopping, cleaning and gardening.
- Eat nutritious food to keep your energy levels up.
- Consider acupuncture – some find it helps with fatigue.
For more on this, see Fatigue.
Dr Henry Marshall, Thoracic Physician, The University of Queensland Thoracic Research Centre, The Prince Charles Hospital, QLD; Dr Naveed Alam, Thoracic Surgeon, St Vincent’s Melbourne and Epworth Richmond Hospitals, VIC; A/Prof Martin Borg, Radiation Oncologist, GenesisCare, SA; Dr Lisa Briggs, Consumer; Kirsten Mooney, Thoracic Cancer Nurse Coordinator, WA Cancer & Palliative Care Network, WA; Claire Mulvihill, Lung Cancer Support Nurse, Lung Foundation Australia; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; A/Prof Nick Pavlakis, President, Australasian Lung Cancer Trials Group, President Elect, Clinical Oncology Society of Australia, and Senior Staff Specialist, Department of Medical Oncology, Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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