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Breast Cancer – Managing Fatigue During Radiation Treatment

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The most common side effect during breast cancer treatment is fatigue. Fatigue is defined as a feeling of low energy and being tired all the time. This may even be the case when you haven’t particularly engaged in any physical activity. What’s really noteworthy is that not only does a person feel tired, she begins to feel disinterested in their normal interests as well.

According to BreastCancer.org, symptoms of fatigue may include:

Lack of energy
Sleeping more

Not wanting to do normal activities or being unable to do them
Paying less attention to personal appearance
Feeling tired even after sleeping
Trouble thinking or concentrating
Trouble finding words or speaking

Although breast cancer treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and hormonal and targeted therapies have been noted to cause fatigue, fatigue can be made worse by other side effects already being experienced. For example, if a person is dehydrated, in pain, anemic or has an infection, fatigue can intensify. Even a poor diet can compound the situation from bad to worse.

What You Can Do

To combat fatigue, first, talk to your doctor. Give her details on how you feel. Together, you and your medical team will have to devise a program that works for you. Along with traditional medicine, it has been noted that acupuncture, massage therapy and meditation has been very helpful to some.

Even the American Cancer Society recommends that breast cancer patients get about four hours a week of physical activity. Some may ask, “How can you do that when you don’t even feel like getting up off the couch?” The key is to start slowly. It can be as simple as a 15 minute walk with a friend or doing simple gardening. Build from there and you are well on your way. And remember, with the condition you’re battling, it may take months to meet the four hour recommendation.

Always try to eat healthy. This is especially important if you have lost weight. Your dietician can assist you with any details. Family and friends can volunteer to cook meals. Suggest that they cook in bulk and separate in single servings. That way, you can pull out just what you need.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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