Fatigue means feeling very tired and lacking energy to carry out day-to-day activities. For people with cancer, it is different from tiredness and does not always go away with rest or sleep. You may lose interest in things that you usually enjoy doing or feel unable to concentrate for very long. Fatigue can influence how you feel about yourself and others, which may affect your close relationships.
If fatigue is a problem, talk to your treatment team. Sometimes fatigue can be caused by a low red blood cell count or the side effects of drugs, and can be treated. While you cannot always get rid of fatigue, you can find ways to improve your energy levels.
How to manage fatigue
- Set small, manageable goals for the day, and rest before you get too tired.
- Ask for and accept offers of help with tasks such as shopping, cleaning and gardening.
- 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.
- Sit down whenever you can.
- Ask your doctor about what sort of exercise would be suitable. Even a walk around the garden or block can boost your energy levels.
- Eat nutritious food to keep your energy levels up.
- Consider acupuncture – some find it helps with fatigue.