Cancer and Fatigue
Fatigue is a poorly understood companion of cancer and cancer treatment. Actually, of course, fatigue is a poorly understood companion of life. Many people are chronically tired, and certainly cancer treatment does not boost their energy. The disease itself can cause fatigue, so can the treatment, so can some of the drugs, so can worry and stress that likely interfere with sleep. You probably have seen some of the articles in the press that remind us that most Americans do not get enough sleep, and that there are health benefits of a solid seven or eight hours nightly. I have always been blessed to be a world class sleeper, one of those lucky people who is out approximately 90 seconds after turning off the light. It makes my husband crazy. The downside of being such a good sleeper is that, deprieved of enough rest, I feel awful.
Lots of people manage reasonably well with chronic low level fatigue, but the addition of a cancer diagnosis and/or treatment upsets that balance.
This is a very good article from ASCO's Cancer Net about managing. I have one idea to add: Think about energy as a bank account. If you make a big withdrawal, you have to make some deposits. This translates to thinking about the day's tasks, and perhaps deciding to spend a quiet morning in order to feel well enough to meet a friend this afternoon. You get the idea.
Here is the beginning and a link:
Coping With Cancer-Related Fatigue
Fatigue is a common symptom in people with cancer that causes a lack of energy for many usual activities. Most people receiving cancer treatment experience fatigue, and some cancer survivors have fatigue for months and even years after finishing their treatment. Cancer-related fatigue is different than other types of fatigue, like what happens when you don?t get enough sleep, because this feeling of exhaustion does not improve with rest.
Fatigue's effect on quality of life
Fatigue can have negative effects on the overall physical, psychological, social, and economic well-being of people with cancer. For some it can be slightly bothersome, while for others the experience can be devastating. Fatigue can influence a person's:
- Daily activities
- Hobbies and other enjoyable activities
- Social relationships
- Mood and emotions
- Job performance
- Feeling of well-being and sense of joy
- Attitude toward the future
- Ability to undergo treatment