Tired of Cancer Fatigue: Let Me Off Cancer's Merry-Go-Round

Breast cancer, melanoma survivor and chemotherapy warrior is weary but she isn't ready to quit yet.

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 OK. 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!