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Weary From Cancer? Cancer Survivor Offers Suggestions

Breast cancer and melanoma survivors shares thoughts to fight cancer fatigue from a book by Christiane Northrup, M.D.
PUBLISHED November 22, 2016
Barbara Tako is a breast cancer survivor (2010), melanoma survivor (2014) and author of Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools–We'll Get You Through This. She is a cancer coping advocate, speaker and published writer for television, radio and other venues across the country. She lives, survives, and thrives in Minnesota with her husband, children and dog. See more at www.cancersurvivorshipcopingtools.com,or www.clutterclearingchoices.com.
How far out from active treatment are you? How tired and weary are you feeling? Do you wonder if it was the chemotherapy, the radiation, the surgery, the medications or the emotional drain of having fought a round with cancer that cause the fatigue? Or, could it simply be old age and gradual deconditioning? Many cancer survivors, including me, struggle with these questions. 

I am just plain tired of feeling so darn tired. I am weary. To be honest, I took a bit of a break from healthy eating and exercise choices for a while. Maybe some part of me wanted to celebrate life for a bit. Maybe I had some perverse urge to thumb my nose at my cancer recurrences odds and prove to myself that my cancer wouldn’t come back even if I did get a little out of shape. OK, maybe quite a bit out of shape. Anyway, now I am trying to get back on track, and I am finding that it is a learning experience.

After breast cancer and treatment, my hormones have gotten messed up. I don’t lose weight as easily as I used to. That is no news flash, and part of it may just come with the aging process and slowing metabolism. I don’t know. Still, I can choose what I eat and I can choose how often I move my body. I can get back in the driver’s seat.

In some ways, I have rebelled like a little kid who doesn’t want to do her homework. Even though I know there are many benefits to exercise, and I always, always feel better about everything right after I exercise. Why am I so stubborn? I don’t know. Still, I can and will gradually and gently increase my exercise again.

Still, I am weary. What are the answers to that? Some swear by various vitamins or foods. In the past, I have tried a few things and didn’t notice a huge difference. Others talk about the importance of enough sleep. In my case, I even had a sleep study done and I now have a CPAP machine and I am still tired! And, and, and. I am tired of it.

Battle worn, care worn, weary but grateful to be here. That is me. To get inspired, I recently read Goddesses Never Age by Christiane Northrup, M.D., and I like her thoughts. I cannot say enough good things about this book for female survivors who are in our 50s and beyond.

Northrup suggests that in regard to healthy eating there are “moderators” and “abstainers.” Moderators can enjoy a little of something. Abstainers will go on to eat most of the bag. Moderators are good at eating a little bit of a treat. I am an abstainer, so I decided to eat what I want one day per week and be “good” on the other days. Northrup didn’t shame either eating style. Pointing out how to manage my eating based on my personal eating style made sense to me.

Concerning exercise, Northrup comments that willpower to keep going with the task of exercise doesn’t last for many of us. Even the word “exercise” brings up negative connotations. Northrup suggests calling it “joyful movement” instead, and encourages us to figure out what kind of movement is personally joyful. I discovered that if I listen to a series of fast-paced tunes of a genre I like, I actually enjoy doing a weird combo of freestyle moves that range from “exercise” moves like jogging, marching, kicking, knee lifts to dance moves to silly but fun arm movements that feel good at the time. I am not ready to be publicly seen doing my joyful movement, but I work up a sweat and get around 10,000 steps completed in very little time in the simplicity and privacy of my home.
The thoughts in Goddesses Never Age have educated me and helped me reduce my weariness. Please add resources or thoughts that have helped you cope with cancer weariness!
 

 

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