What might you experience ?

Fatigue is one of the most common problems suffered by people with cancer affecting 70% to 80% of patients. You may find some of the following symptoms familiar:

  • You’re more tired than usual and even after resting and sleeping the tiredness persists

  • It’s a struggle to concentrate or focus your mind on tasks disrupting your daily routine and impacting your work and social life.

  • Everyday tasks are more difficult and you become breathless easily

  • You have mood swings and are more likely to feel sad, depressed and irritable.

Why does this happen?

Fatigue can be caused by the cancer tumour itself, side effects from your treatment and the emotional distress of cancer diagnosis. Contributors to fatigue include:

  • Tumours cause the body to have higher than normal levels of cytokines and researchers are investigating the link that cytokines may cause fatigue through affecting the hormones and chemicals that nerves use to communicate

  • Anaemia is a common side effect of cancer treatment. Sufferers have a reduced red blood cell count, lowering the amount of oxygen available to the body to create energy

  • Dehydration and poor nutrition as a result of lack of appetite, vomiting or diarrhoea result in the body not being able to maintain energy levels, leading to tiredness

  • The stress of managing doctors appointments, constant tests & dealing with the details of your disease can leave sufferers feeling mentally and physically exhausted.

What can you do about it?

Exercise

Exercise

Studies have shown that exercising during treatment could lead to reduced fatigue and women were less likely to be anxious or depressed if they exercised 4 times a week for 30 minutes

  • Find an exercise plan that will fit your needs and consult your doctor to understand the types of exercises that are suited to your treatment

  • Look for equipment suited to your exercise regime. There are lots of products designed to allow you to follow a simple home exercise routine.

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Mindfulness

Mindfulness

Techniques to help your mind and body become calm and relaxed can help fatigue sufferers feel more energised

  • Colouring books, mindfulness exercises & guided relaxation are ways to tackle the feelings of stress & anxiety that can often lead to fatigue

  • Natural balms scented with aromas such as lavender and vanilla are known to be relaxing and sleep inducing

  • Brain fitness challenging puzzles can help improve cognitive ability to levels closer to where they were before

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Eating Well

Eating Well

Ensuring you maintain a well balanced diet can help your body heal & reduce the effects of fatigue

  • If you are unsure of what to eat or cook during your treatment, there are a range of cookbooks designed specifically for cancer patients to ensure you get the nutrients required when undergoing treatment

  • Mouth trouble can be a difficult side effect of living with cancer. Saliva gels, stimulants and oral protective pastes can help with mouth problems and provide immediate relief for ulcers and sores.

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Other Tips!

Other Tips!

  • Take regular naps throughout the day but be careful not to over sleep much as too much rest can decrease energy levels

  • Create a fatigue diary documenting your energy levels. This will help you understand the activities that provide you energy and those when you are at your most tired