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Posted by Emie on Sep 9, 2020 12:46 pm

Hi there!  
I finished 10 sessions of radiation on July 17,2020 for invasive ductal carcinoma.

The fatigue hit me at the strongest around 4 weeks later.  I still feel blah and sleep 11 hours overnight.

 I’m scheduled to return to work next week but still don’t feel right.  I’m not motivated and not interested.  I am on anti-depressants prior to my diagnosis. 

I’m wondering how radiation side effects has lasted for others?  

Re: Fatigue

Posted by Essjay on Sep 9, 2020 5:37 pm

Emie‍ sorry you feel blah still. it sucks!

It’s hard for me to say how long the effects of radiation lasted because I had chemo and the treatments kind of merged! I do know that I didn’t really feel like myself until about 9 months after I completed all my treatment. I went back to work just prior to starting radiation and I worked part time (3 mornings a week) through radiation and then entered a graduated return to work over 3 months after that. 

What made a Difference to me was Exercise. It was like a savings account. I put energy into exercise and I got energy out as interest which I could invest in day to day activities. I needed a lot of sleep though! 

I would say I was still sleeping extra each night up to a year later...I’ve noticed I can still wipe myself out doing to much or burning the candle at both ends. I’ve learned to watch for this and be kind to myself. If I need a PJ day, that’s what I have...

Do you have an option for a graduated return to work at your workplace?

Triple Negative Breast Cancer survivor since July 2018

Re: Fatigue

Posted by Maly on Sep 10, 2020 7:57 am

Hi Emie‍ 
I finished radiation for invasive ductal carcinoma on June 5th. Fatigue also hit me hard as well. Like Essjay‍ I found exercise helpful. I walked and still walk almost every day, even if I don't want to. 
I just returned to work 2 weeks ago and I'm tired at the end of every day. I think it will take time to adjust to the working routine again. So far, when I get home from work I make sure to take time to just sit and rest. Then I carry on with a bit more energy. I still make time for an after dinner walk. Then when it's time for bed, I am really ready to have a sleep. 
Good luck with everything. Thanks for posting 

Re: Fatigue

Posted by Emie on Sep 10, 2020 9:37 am

Thank-you Maly‍ and Essjay‍ for your replies.  
Daily exercise is a good point.  While I do some running around with errands and driving the kids around, guess that isn’t quite the same!  I’ll commit to daily walks, both for physical benefits as well as the mental break. I like that analogy to a savings account!  

I do have options on accommodations for returning to work which could be a graduated re-entry.  Returning full force at this time doesn’t seem to sit right with me. 
I have a phone appointment with my oncologist but will see if I can get into my family doctor to reassess a plan for returning before Wednesday! 

All the best to you!    

Re: Fatigue

Posted by robegree71 on Sep 10, 2020 10:10 am

I know exactly how you feel. I had adenocarcinoma and half my left lung removed in April. I am not on any chemo thanks to whoever !
I am still tired and fatigued. I sleep about 10-12 hours a night, not always sound through the night though. Around 4-5 in the afternoon I could fall asleep on the couch 
but resist that so I go to bed like 9. I started walking about 5 weeks ago and went a little bit farther each day until I could go 30 minutes non stop. I also bought tension bands on line and started to exercise with those and that has made a big difference.
You have to keep moving. I have always been super active but this just takes time, very frustrating but that is the way it is..I have two friends and their experience is the same with the tiredeness. Good luck.

Re: Fatigue

Posted by ashcon on Sep 10, 2020 7:13 pm

Hi Emie‍ 
Congratulations on getting through the radiation.  Great tips from the others about exercise.  You are so right - when it is focused and intentional (and not running around after the kids!), it is so rewarding, physically and emotionally.

I am a very active person, so when my fatigue was still predominant 4 weeks after I finished radiation, it was discovered by chance (blood test for other things) that my thyroid had crapped out. My TSH was off the charts at 98.5. The normal range is 4 or less.  My T3 and T4 were significantly out of whack as well.

Thankfully I was referred to ENT specialist, had an ultrasound of thyroid - ruled out thyroid cancer. Diagnosed with hypothyroidism (Hachimoto's disease) and prescribed Synthroid. It took about 4-5 months to get things back to normal, and to get the right dosage of Synthroid, and I feel fine now.

This may not be the case for you, but I felt it worth sharing with you so that you can get bloodwork done and rule out any possible issues related to thyroid, anemia, etc.
---- "Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced." ----

Re: Fatigue

Posted by Emie on Sep 10, 2020 10:26 pm

Hi ashcon‍ and robegree71‍ ! 
It’s supporting to know that others too have felt this way with fatigue.

Radiation gave me an end point to this road of diagnosis to surgeries to treatment. 
The fatigue was something I never experienced before.

Checking bloodwork is a good suggestion.  Could be worth checking iron etc.... I too have hypothyroidism, and it has been fluctuating this year.  It is being monitored with blood tests every couple months and the meds adjusted.  I guess since mine is not stabilized to the right dose, it too can be playing with the tiredness. 

I appreciate your feedback knowing of similar experiences.  I guess it’s the frustration of wanting normalcy again, but as was said, it is what is is, that recovery is a process and has its own time, keeping in mind the benefits of being active!   :) 

Re: Fatigue

Posted by Lacey_Moderator on Sep 11, 2020 11:18 am

Emie‍ - So glad you heard from others. I hope it helps you feel less alone and more 'normal' 😊.

I wanted to share this video as well:

Wishing you well!


Re: Fatigue

Posted by ABA on Sep 11, 2020 1:29 pm

Great video!
Walking outside really helps to overcome fatigue and ensuring that you consume enough protein and drink water are staples.

Re: Fatigue

Posted by WestCoastSailor on Sep 11, 2020 2:56 pm


Fatigue is one of those constant subjects that comes up consistently with cancer patients. I always seem to want to do more and the limitations of fatigue can be hard to accept.

People have made some great suggestions already some of which I would make as well if they hadn't. But one thing that hasn't come up yet from what I'm starting to call the big three. (sleep, exercise, and eat) is eating well. I'm not going to make a wild diet recommendation because I think it is a highly personal matter. My mantra is "Variety and moderation."  And in the context of fatigue, there are some dietary components that can contribute to fatigue as well.

Not getting enough calories can be part of it. Your body is trying to rebuild the things that are damaged in chemo and radiation. It needs the building blocks - protein - to do that. And it needs the energy. Gut microflora are being shown to be an important part of that though it isn't clear yet exactly how it all works. That makes it a target for the woo-woo specialists. Still variety and moderation...

And finally hydration. I monitored a lot of construction workers working in difficult conditions as a first aid attendant so I had a sense of the importance of water. As a recovering cancer patient though water is also important. For reasons ranging from plump veins for the vampire lab techs and infusion nurses to washing all the poison that chemo is out of our systems, it is important. I know there are recommendations about "Drink 8 glasses a day." But that is really general, only a place to start. Find your own level and make sure that you reach it regularly.

Thanks for sharing your struggle with us and best of luck sorting it out.

My story: http://journey.anguspratt.ca

Re: Fatigue

Posted by Whitelilies on Sep 12, 2020 8:34 pm

Emie‍ Hello
Re; Fatigue.....I tried to schedule my radiation sessions in the morning (and still had to wait !).....so by the time I got home, you bet I was zonked....and I would NAP !
(every afternoon).....so I could be brimming with energy (ha ??) when my boys came home from school.  Even better, is that they did not need to "see mom nap".....
Fatigue is "normal"....your body is being put through A LOT.....
Sending VIrtual Hugs



Re: Fatigue

Posted by Emie on Sep 13, 2020 11:32 pm

Much appreciated WestCoast‍ ! Good points to consider in taking care of oneself!
Thanks for your reply  too Whitelilies‍ and support- very much appreciated!