Dr Haryana Dhillon, University of Sydney
The thing about cancer is that it can make you just so tired. Why is that and what can you do about it?
In this episode of The Thing About Cancer podcast, host Julie McCrossin chats with Dr Haryana Dhillon about ways to manage cancer fatigue.
How does normal fatigue differ from cancer fatigue? Is treatment making you feel tired? How long will this fatigue last? Can exercise make you feel better?
Julie and Haryana will tackle all these questions, and more.
Haryana explains why cancer fatigue isn’t like normal ‘gym-workout’ fatigue – it’s more of a bone-weary tiredness that often doesn’t go away.
The episode also looks at how cancer treatment, pain medication, emotions and poor sleep can all feed off each other, leading to increased fatigue, and how you can reverse this pattern.
Fatigue is a normal part of the cancer journey
Fatigue is a completely normal part of the cancer journey, and for most people this feeling will pass after time. This fatigue may be expected, but life doesn’t stop. You may still need to do daily things like go to work, pick up the kids, do the shopping, or clean your house.
But how can you do all this if you always feel tired?
The key is pacing yourself
Haryana gives helpful tips on how you can manage your tiredness, and still get through these daily chores. Or if you are really struggling to cope, she points out some useful services that can support you through these challenging times.
One of the key behaviours to learn is pacing, says Haryana. Once you learn how to pace, you can allocate your energy accordingly, and still ensure that you have time to rest up.
– Dr Haryana Dhillon, University of Sydney
Exercise can boost your energy levels
Haryana talks about how you can actually boost your depleted energy levels by doing mild exercise. Gentle activities like walking, meditation and tai chi can help a lot with managing your cancer fatigue.
Want more information or support?
If you heard something mentioned in the podcast, you’ll find a link to it below. We’ve also added links to other sources of information and support.
From Cancer Council NSW
- Managing cancer fatigue – online information about the most common side effect of cancer treatment
- Fatigue after Cancer Treatment webinar – recorded webinar featuring cancer experts and survivors
- Exercise for people living with cancer – exercise information and videos to help you keep moving during cancer treatment
- Exercise and Cancer – exercise videos and links to programs
- ENRICHing Survivorship – a free exercise and nutrition program
- Healthy Living After Cancer program – free health coaching over the phone
- Cancer Council 13 11 20 Information and Support service – call 13 11 20 Mon–Fri, 9am–5pm to talk confidentially to a health professional about anything to do about cancer
- Cancer Council support for people coping with cancer – information and support online, in person and via phone
- Cancer Council Online Community – a supportive online community for people affected by cancer
From other organisations
- University of New South Wales Fatigue Clinic – information about an individualised 12-week intervention and a post-cancer fatigue research trial
- Exercise is Medicine Australia – Cancer and exercise fact sheet
- Cancer Research UK Tiredness with Cancer – information from UK research-funding organisation