Managing Cancer-Related Fatigue

Cancer comes with many symptoms the likes of which differ depending on the type of cancer. But most cancer patients can usually agree on one thing – cancer wipes you out as far as energy levels. If it’s not the cancer itself, it’s the related treatments that can bring on unprecedented fatigue; a lack of energy that can interfere with your everyday life and prevent you from engaging in your normal activities.

Most people understand that fatigue is just a part of the package when it comes to cancer and its treatment. But that doesn’t meant you have to resign yourself to a total lack of energy. There are things that you can do to help manage fatigue and increase your energy levels so that you can live a higher quality of life during your treatment.

* Exercise. As counterintuitive as it may seem (who wants to exercise when you are so tired?), exercise is one of the ways that you can actually increase energy levels. Just a small amount of activity on a daily basis – taking a short walk, engaging in a low level exercise class, stretching, yoga – can work to start building up your energy.

* Say no. Now is not the time to say yes to everything you are invited to participate in regardless of the perceived importance of these activities. Ask someone you trust to help you prioritize so that you can determine what is worth saying yes to and what you should pass on for now.

* Ask for help. Well-meaning friends and family have likely offered their share of help in whatever way you need it. Now is a good time to take them up on these offers of kindness to help reduce your workload and preserve your energy.

* Take time off from work. If you are able to take a leave of absence it may be helpful to do so for at least a short period of time. If not, see if you can make alternative arrangements such as working partially from home or using, sick, personal, and vacation time by spreading it out to include one or a few days off per week.

* Engage in relaxing activities. Mediation, massage, acupuncture, etc. can all go a long way towards helping you relax and feel more rested.

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