Cancer fatigue feels ongoing to me. I won’t let it win. I am trying different things to cope, and yet the fatigue continues for me even after six years out from my first cancer diagnosis. I have tried getting plenty of rest. I completed a sleep study. I saw a sleep psychotherapist. Blood work and PET scans have all been done. I am currently trying melatonin. My next steps, the ones I actually hold the highest hopes for, are improving my diet and exercise habits.
Maybe I am just getting old? If so, those feelings of fatigue still correlated suspiciously with my chemotherapy treatments, surgeries, radiation and beyond. Chemotherapy is a big deal. It saved my life. It changed my hormones. I also suspect it changed my body and brain. I know it changed my hair. I am not bald. I have hair, but it is thinner and more brittle than it was before chemotherapy. I am also more brittle since cancer. Maybe different chemotherapies have different side effects for different people. That wouldn’t surprise me a bit.
Maybe I need to look at things differently. My youngest told me a cloudy grey day is beautiful. The colors are muted and it is still beautiful. Maybe I could look at my energy level this way too. I don’t know.
I am weary and tired of being weary. Life is good. I am not saying it isn’t, but I am in a different gear since cancer treatments. I would like to “kick it up a notch” and yet I can’t seem to manage to do it. I will not quit. I will keep trying. I will pull myself forward. Every day is truly a blessing. There are a lot of things I would like to do, and I run out of energy before I run out of hours in the day. For me, that is a hard reality to accept.
Do you know what scares me? Fatigue. This is mind-numbing, body-stopping fatigue. I don’t like it when I feel too tired to reach out to my friends and family, even by email. I don’t like it when I can’t do my passion—writing.
"Always pull yourself forward,” is the advice from a friend of a friend. Yes, it is pulling, sometimes it is dragging, and it is sound advice. Still, sometimes I feel the rope slipping through my fingers or I feel like I just don’t have the energy to grab onto the rope, much less pull myself forward on it. “You look good,” says the doctor.
Maybe, but I don’t feel good, I think. I have had all the tests—bloodwork, full-body check, mammogram and even a PET scan. Everything, thank goodness, checks out okay. Also, I am not terribly anxious or depressed. I am just weary. I don’t feel like myself. I haven’t felt like myself since my first diagnosis. Maybe weary is part of new normal?
Cancer fatigue—I won’t accept it. I will keep exploring and trying and doing. I will be more stubborn than cancer. Eating habits can be improved. Exercise will help me gain more stamina.
I would appreciate your input on cancer fatigue and I will keep you posted!
Severe fatigue is my biggest side effect. I'm 8 mos post diagnosis. Had chemo, then surgery, and still receiving weekly chemotherapy. People tell me to listen to my body, but it's telling me to stay in bed for 3 days. It is a constant battle between mind and body. Hard to stay motivated. I'm weak and forgetful. My only hope is that it will get better once I'm done with chemo.
OMG. Yes many times over...or as my 5-year-old grandson says, "fifty eighty percent dollars!" That is one of the biggest numbers he can think of!
This fatigue feels like you are wearing a scuba diving suit that is made not of neoprene but of hundreds of thin, thin sheets of lead as thin as filo dough. Hundreds of sheets of lead, layered on top of one another, hugging your body like a scuba diving suit.
They tell you that exercise will cure the fatigue...but it doesn't. And sometimes it makes it much, MUCH worse.
So they tell you you're trying to exercise too much, or not the right way, or too often, or.... They tell you to respect your body's limits. To build up gradually. (Apparently they assume you did not try to do that, but started out trying to bench press 200 lbs and run a marathon.)
So then you cut back on your exercise and try to honor your body's needs on any given day, regarding how much you ask it to do.... You try to respect your body's limits, like they told you to do.
And a year later they're telling you that the reason you are so tired is because you're "deconditioned" because you haven't been exercising enough and you would feel much better if you'd just exercise more....
On June 30, 2016, I will celebrate 7 years since my diagnosis...and this is what has happened to me. I have checked sleep, thyroid, cortisol, GI, pulmonary, neurology, cardiology, rheumatology.... Nothing showed up on tests for 6 years.
Recently one cardiologist says I have a tiny, tiny bit of cardiac trouble, but nothing that shouldn't be manageable with medication. My main problem, she says, is that I'm deconditioned because I haven't been exercising enough in the last two years. Now that I'm exercising again, she says that I need to pull back and not exercise quite so much, in order to respect my body's limits, and only build up gradually (which is exactly what I've BEEN doing!).
For the folks who specialize in "survivorship," the sun rises and sets in the prescription of "exercise," and there is nothing that befalls us post-treatment that cannot be remedied by exercise.
They are wrong. And this bone-crushing, slowly progressive fatigue is one of the most debilitating long-term after-effects of treatment that remains poorly appreciated and even more poorly understood by the "experts."
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