By Judith Lacey.
Fatigue is the most common symptom patients experience during cancer treatment. Unfortunately it can be quite debilitating and can persist for quite some time after treatment has been completed.
Fortunately, a lot of research has been and continues to be done to look at the best ways to assist patients who are suffering Cancer related fatigue.
The main messages are:
Talk to your doctor about it: sometimes there is something reversible, like anemia or other correctable imbalances that can help. Perhaps it is a medication you are taking. Or you have symptoms that are not well controlled. The supportive care specialist may be useful to assist your team in addressing these issues.
Pace yourself and prioritize. Put yourself and your well-being first for a little while, your body is working hard – but don’t stop all activity!
Evidence suggests that exercise of moderate intensity can really help. so make sure to get an assessment for a personalized exercise program from an exercise physiologist or specialized physiotherapist. We have a great gym and run programs most days of the week as well as individual sessions.
Take care of your mind as well as your body. Mind–body practice, like mindfulness, or exercises that incorporate meditation can make a difference.
Yoga and Qigong are perfect during and after your cancer treatment and in breast cancer patients have been show to improve fatigue and reduce stress too. Come to a class, or ask about a 1 on 1 session in meditation and yoga therapy.
Some treatments can really affect the quality of your sleep, and if you don’t sleep well, you will feel “jet lagged’ and exhausted. You need to raise this with your treating team.
Reflexology and massage can really help you relax and improve your sleep. Provided by an experience oncology massage/reflexology specialist, these touch therapies can really help.
Growing evidence supports the use of acupuncture for improving cancer related fatigue as well as other symptoms.
And of course, remember, eating a balanced diet can really make a difference. This can really be hard if you are experiencing symptoms like nausea or loss of appetite or mouth sores. Your doctor needs to know and a dietitian is available to assist.
And remember, this is a pretty hard time and significant changes are occurring in your life. Talking about it with an experienced counselor can really help. It is never a sign of weakness to do so and can make a difference to your cancer journey and coping.
A lot of people ask about herbs and supplements that may improve cancer related fatigue. If you have deficiencies in some essential vitamins or minerals, some supplements can help. Some herbs and medications are being studied for their efficacy in improving cancer related fatigue. It is never a good idea to self-prescribe. The aisles at most chemists are now lined with huge quantities of supplements claiming to fix all ailments. Talk to your doctor, or perhaps come for a holistic supportive care medical consultation to see what the best and safest evidence based ways to manage your fatigue are.
For more information, come down to the LivingRoom or ask for a referral from your treating team. Take a few moments to see what we can do to support you by creating a personalized program to assist you through your cancer journey.