If it was only feeling tired, that would be another matter. It’s not. Fatigue, a common side effect of chemotherapy and radiation, should not be ignored.
It starts out like an overall feeling of extreme tiredness or weakness. Normal activities become too strenuous. And, the desire to stay in bed becomes more and more compelling. Slowly, you give in to it because every activity just seems like too much.
Fatigue also lays the groundwork for depression and can create other problems such as insomnia, poor circulation or anxiety. Worse, it can cause you to lose the will to live.
Managing fatigue is critically important, both during treatment and recovering wellness. Try these tips to deal with fatigue and gain more control during your journey.
1. Nutrition – Consult a dietitian certified for cancer patients who can show you how to fuel your body during this challenge. Not all calories are equal. Some are better at supporting the specific needs of your body during treatment . . . some worse.
2. Exercise – Although it sounds counter-intuitive, exercising daily helps preserve muscle mass and creates more energy. It helps expend toxins, increases circulation and releases endorphins.
3. Sleep – Stick to your normal bedtime if possible and arise in the morning. Although naps are a great during treatment, limit naps to 1 hour. Don’t stay in bed all day.
4. Relaxation – Do something everyday that relaxes you. The mental noise that comes with cancer is exhausting. Meditate, pray, or practice yoga to release the tension in your mind. It will energize your body.
I’ve experienced extreme fatigue after chemotherapy and radiation, along with the seemingly insurmountable challenge of moving when one feels so empty. However, I also know that my body was designed with vast resources whose sole desire is to survive.