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Let's Discuss...Fatigue
Fatigue is the most common symptom for people with cancer and the most common side effect of cancer treatment. It is a general lack of energy, tiredness or exhaustion. It is different from the tiredness a person usually feels at the end of the day.

Did you experience fatigue? If so, at what point was it the most challenging?
What helped you manage your fatigue?

34 Replies
320 Posts
yes, I experienced fatigue...it took me awhile to recuperate after my cancer treatments but I think that a good nutritious diet helped me with my fatigue and once I was nourished I found that I could start dancing and exercising...
Wendy Tea
1632 Posts
Wow! Great topic Lacey_adminCCS‍ !

Fatigue has so many aspects and so many causes. Yes, I experienced fatigue. I experienced it pre-diagnosis (my body was fighting something), then after diagnosis but pre-surgery (my mind was spinning a 1000 miles a minute), then after surgery (my body was healing), then when I thought I should be up and about, I wasn't. That was when we checked my ferritin-iron levels and found them extremely low. Just when I was starting to feel better, I again experienced more fatigue. This time it was from depression which was a direct result of my trial drug Letrozole.

Today I am 6 months out from my date of surgery, I have more energy, more positivity, and I am a happy camper.

My main comment is, if you experience fatigue, rest, but also look for an underlying cause because if you find the cause, you can deal with it and your fatigue can be managed.
Wendy Tea
59 Posts
I just had my first chemo round on Monday so I am really new to this.  I am trying to follow the advice on listening to my body.  Day one I was exhausted.  My treatment ended at 3 pm and by 6 pm I fell asleep in my rocker recliner...woke up at 8 and was in bed at 8:45 until 6:30 the following morning.  Day 2 I had a more energy..went for a walk..raked some leaves..went for grastofil teach and even went in to work to have cake with a friend who is retiring.  This was an easy thing to do as the fvcc is in the same building as the hospital I work at.
Day 3 started off a bit rough but I had some breakfast..took my meds and am starting to feel a bit more alive.  I think I may have done a bit too much yesterday.  It is a learning curve but I just have to learn to take it slow which is going to be a tough one for me because I like to stay busy!!
292 Posts
Fatigue is my most frustrating side effect. Walk up the stairs and need to sit down. Walk around the block and need to stop on the hill. I am a person who worked out 5 days/week. So what's a girl to do? Listen to your body. Rest when you need to. My mornings are best so I do 10-20 minutes of yoga stretching (nothing intense, just focus on breathing and a little joint/muscle stretch to wake up. I use a web site www.doyogawithme.com and pick something short, beginner, morning stretch in their search engine.). I choose one chore to do for the day and try to get through it in the morning and don't beat myself up if I don't get it done. And I walk 20-30 minutes. The pace is not fast. and if I need to stop I do but I get fresh air. I nap/rest for at least an hour in the afternoon. After the nap and morning I usually just sit around in the afternoon. Read my book, play piano. Any outing needs to be short (grocery shopping or errands - ONE store only). I find that when the fatigue hits I can feel it coming and it is like walking into a wall. I am currently on weekly chemo but had last week off so am finding myself with more energy this week but I still hit the wall every afternoon. This too shall pass....
1545 Posts
Once I got past chemo #4, around day 5 after chemo, I experienced the worst fatigue of my life. It almost felt like, if the house was burning down, I would have to stay in the house anyway as I was so thoroughly drained. After chemo 5 is was worse!  My last chemo, #6, was April 13th, 2017, and that's the day my Scottish brother arrived in Toronto. So April 17th, he visits us in Montreal. So we went to Morgan ArboretumSainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, near Montreal, as my brother is an avid birdwatcher. We went by car, so if anything terrible happened to me, we could get in the car and leave. (There's a silly joke, make like a tree and leave?)
Anyway it was cold and quite windy, and I wasn't especially tired - kept walking to avoid freezing? - So then we were lost in the woods.  The snow and ice had recently melted, and instead of being on a trail, we were in a large 6" deep pond. Anyway, we found our way back and had lunch at an Italian restaurant with a big fireplace. So I'm thinking, when there's Adrenalin involved, your fatigue will hold off for a while? 
1 Posts
Yes i am experiencing fatigue mostly I combat it with exercise or walking, but sometimes after chemotherapy i cant do anything but give in to it and just rest 
697 Posts
Fatigue comes and goes with me. For the past 3 months I felt pretty well rested...but the past few weeks I could sleep all day...and still feel fatigued.
It seems to come with the recovery territory.

If I can lay down for a nap, it helps a bit, or, since I am retired, I have more free time so I can be lazy, nap, read, and just wait for the spell to pass. It lasts for an indeterminate time so I just accept it. 
I know resting is a luxury which I do appreciate, although my social life is often reduced when I go thru bouts of fatigue.
24 Posts
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in the summer of 2017.  I did experience "fatigue" throughout my journey with cancer.  This symptom was prevalent after my chemo treatments.  As time progressed, this symptom improved.  Exercise, walking outside or at a gym as much as possible and trying to maintain a positive attitude worked for me. MyrlaneB
9 Posts
My wife passed away in October 2016 from Vulvar cancer. I have since been suffering PTSD, complicated grief, anxiety and depression. I have recently been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. My PSA is 28, a Gleason score of 9 and my grade is 4. I have chosen quality of life over extended life.
my fatigue is overwhelming me. I can lay on the bed for just one minute with my doggy and it sets in hard. I’m almost dizzy and off-balance to stand up. I went from only sleeping maybe three or four hours a night, to now sleeping all night and probably five or six more hours during the day between a couple naps, and I are always having to push myself to get things done with no energy at all.I don’t know if it’s my depression or the cancer. I do find that sometimes I can fight through it and keeping it from becoming too strong, though sometimes it is so overwhelming I have no choice but to sleep.
1537 Posts
This is a tough one. For me two different primary cancers diagnosed, two surgeries, 16 rounds of radiation, just finished 6 rounds of chemo plus all the appointments since January I have attended. Some days I wonder how I’m still standing lol. Rest for me has been the best medicine for the fatigue. Fortunately I am retired and can rest when I need to. I also learned that for the week following chemo to not leave the house. There were always 2 to 3 days at the end of my chemo week where just making toast would cause me to be short of breath and have to sit down. It improved over the three days. Again I would  just rest and let my husband take care of me. I am planning on starting a light exercise program to try and get my strength and stamina back in another couple of weeks. 
Yes unfortunately fatigue is something that comes and goes with me. Some days are really good and some not so good. Can feel like I am full of energy at the beginning of the day and two hours later I am tired. I don't appreciate the sneak attach fatigue that I get sometimes. I will be going along with my day and then WHAM all of a sudden I have totally run out of gas and need to just sit down and rest and do nothing. Its a little hard to do that when you are out and about doing things. I do exercise and try to eat my protein each day. Biggest thing is to just keep moving on.
Take care
26 Posts
I was in hospital for 5 1/2 weeks. Then in out patient for 8 months.
When i first got out I could barely make it up a flight of stairs. My first outside  expedition I made it half a block. Took me a month before I felt 'sturdy' enough to drive.
It has certainly improved but at 7 months out of treatment  there are definite days when the batteries just run out. Frustrating at times but try to not let it get to me as that would make it worse. Some is physical and some mental. 
All I can really offer in way of advice is to keep trooping along. Don't let it get you down on one hand and don't use it as an excuse on the other - as attractive as that may be at times :) You know yourself.
4 Posts
I was diagnosed about 5 years ago. I was not extremely active but I was in good shape due to exercise.
After diagnosis I stopped any exercise since I was quite disappointed with the news.
After the initial dizzying shock I decided to learn about the condition and new research in the field so I took some after-work courses for months.
Since I recovered my compass, I never had major problems or fatigue. Of course c is hanging in my mind constantly but does not unbalance me for now.  I guess the fact that I'm doing something to fight it keeps me motivated and out of depression.
Of course I have some minor issues. They could or could not be related and do not affect significantly the quality of life.

All the best,
253 Posts
Since my diagnosis this June with breast cancer, I must say I have been really good.  Not much fatigue only after surgeries.
I had two lumpectomies and I only had a hard time the day after the surgery and then I was able to bounce back.  Since my mastectomy, I was down for about 3 days, just laying around and resting whenever I felt tired.  On my fourth day I started my little walks outside.  Didn't make it very far, but fresh air was wonderful.  After a week I was able to return to my daily 40 min. walks.  But I listen to my body and if I get tired,  I rest.  I do not feel guilty about taking the time for me.  I think that is important to put yourself first, which is a new trend for me. I am learning in my old age.  LOL
118 Posts
I breezed through Chemo. Only slightly fatigued for a day after each chemo. 6 weeks of radiation and no fatigue at all until 1 week after completion. Then I would be fine until about 3 pm. Then I crashed. I would sit down and nod off for an hour. After that I was good to go. But it happened each day for about 3 weeks, then I got my energy back. I feel great now! Just came in after raking and bagging leaves from the lawn. Exercise and staying active helps!
I am 3 years with no evedince of disease,  happy dance. Fatigue was very real for me, I found exercise (love my pole walking) and a good diet helped me incredibly.  I focused on my wellness and not the disease.  This helped me to push past it. I have been working full time since 2018 , staying strong. 
33 Posts
I have prostate cancer and I wrote a post about fatigue. This is:

Cancer and fatigue

Do you know what the main problem that a cancer patient has is? It is fatigue. The exact cause is unknown. There are many reasons for this cancer fatigue, but doctors do not know how to treat it.
The normal fatigue that we have some days is different from the fatigue of cancer. This normal fatigue usually goes away very soon. Cancer fatigue can take months or years. In my case, it has continued after finishing my treatments. This cancer fatigue frustrates you and affects how you live each day. Some days are worse than others. And it appears at any time of your day. If it is severe, you cannot go back to work as you planned. You have to look for solutions like working part time.
Among the main causes of cancer fatigue we have are cancer itself, treatments against cancer, anemia, nutrition problems, emotional distress, sleep problems, lack of physical activity, and some others. Due to these many reasons, it may not be possible to know the exact cause of fatigue. It is recommended to get treatment for medical problems that may be adding to your cancer fatigue. Try it.
To help you with fatigue, I will give advice that I have read on online sites and pamphlets on fatigue. These online sites are from hospitals known as Sunnybrook, Mayo and Cleveland clinics, and the American Cancer Society. In addition to this information, I have included my own experience with fatigue. These are:
- Walking is a good exercise to help with fatigue. I practice it with excellent results. If you can go to a gym, it will help you too. I try to go to my gym three times a week.
- If you have ten things to do one day, reduce them to 2 or 3 and leave the others for another day. You will feel better for what you achieved, and the fatigue will be less. These activity reductions will help you conserve energy in your day. Good advice and I try to follow it every day. Ask your family members to help you with tasks that are heavy for you.
- Have a plan to rest at some times during your day. The recommended rest is 20 to 30 minutes. I apply this advice every time I feel tired. After my short nap, I feel better with energy to do any important task. Although experts say that fatigue does not go away with a nap, my experience and the experiences of some friends with cancer are different. A nap helps.
- Go to sleep when you're sleepy not before. Sleep about 8 hours each day, but no more than that. When I go sleepily to bed, it takes me 5 minutes to fall asleep. Practice and you will see.
- What you eat is very important. Get a cancer dietitian, and she will help you with the best food for you. Mainly your food must have grains, meat, milk, fruits, and vegetables. The amounts depend on each person.
- It is advisable to drink 8 cups of liquid per day. For me, this is difficult since I suffer from incontinence due to my surgery to the prostate. I do the best I can.
- Participate in a support group about fatigue. These groups are very useful. I have participated in some of them. The different experiences of the members give you a better perspective of your problem.
A lot of advice. If you can practice one by one in your daily life, you could improve your fatigue. Saying "improve" is important because fatigue sometimes takes years to go as experts say. Once again I ask you to share your experiences with these tips. By doing this, you are helping other people in similar situations. I hope you feel better. I'm better with my fatigue, but sometimes I need a nap to recover. If I take it, I'm fine. You try it.

My fatigue is a little better, in that I can now open the fridge and walk up some stairs.

Horrible, goes on for months, but it eases.

Good luck everyone. I had bad side effects and now I’m thinking of moving somewhere with more cancer treatment and support for triple neg breast cancer.

My side effectcts were apparently worse than usual, so don’t go by me. But I was wondering if there were any place in Canada that does immunotherapy and does it work?!

580 Posts
Fatigue and Cancer go together. Now the type and degree is unique to the person.
When I was first diagnosed with Cancer in 2009 I was described by the Oncologist this way " G------ C------- is a young 62 year old gentleman with an excellent performing status". Written February 26, 2010 the day of my second cycle of Chemotherapy.
I experienced a lot of fatigue during and after the 6 chemotherapy treatments. Even in good health it took me 6 months and I was still not right. 
What helped me with fatigue
Good support from my family
Spending time with my granddaughter playing all sorts of games with her even dolls. We would dress them in different cloths and then put them in bed for a little sleep. Which lasted all of 5 minutes a short night. Then we would dress them up and feed them breakfast. It was now time for a stroll to the grocery store. Now if your mind is so taken up by being a good parent to your doll you had little time for fatigue. I say that my granddaughter saved me from the Cancer.
When I was going through the treatments and I was pale and completly hairless she would come up to me and say "I love you Bumpy" What better gift than that to a person in shock. Bumpy is the name my grandchildren any other children call me.
What is your passion. Some of mine are:
Watching a good movie
Fatigue is real and our body can speaks to us. The secret is listening to our body and not from anyone else.
When are we most down or depressed. When our body is tired.
Defence is twofold either doing something we love or resting our body so we can enjoy doing what we love.
This is a bit of a mish mach of info but my defense as always "Chemo Brain "
Have a good night everyone it is 9 PM here and time for bed.
Early to bed early to rise makes Jack healthy, wealthy and wise. I don't think that's about me. No money, feel a bit sick and pretty dense at times.
Wow Lacey_adminCCS‍  touched a nerve there, didn't you.

Fatigue can be extremely dangerous. Some else mentioned thinking about underlying causes whether the cause is low iron or depression or something else. Fatigue is common to all cancers and to all treatments so we (and our oncologists) take for granted that it is going to happen. Looking beyond it though is important.

More importantly though fatigue can sap our will to live. I was writing about this yesterday in another thread. When we are low in energy it becomes a struggle to do the things that we live for. And it becomes a tight spiral.

So to keep it at bay we exercise - even when we don't feel like it. We eat well with variety and moderation. And we try and get enough good sleep using meditation as necessary.

Stay well my friends.


542 Posts
I don't really suffer from fatigue; I only have 1 day after chemo that I feel it and was told this is when I am coming off the drugs; this day I spend vegging out on the couch and napping whenever I need too. However if I have plans, I can get through the day. After 15 cycles of chemo, I have noticed I am starting to get a little more tired on chemo days but overall I usually feel pretty good. I get out for 45 minute walks most days during "chemo week" and the rest of my 12 day rest period is usually normal.
41 Posts
I’ve just finished round 3 of chemo.  The first round I didn’t really have fatigue expect briefly (10 seconds if that) after climbing the stairs.  I was physically active right up to my diagnosis so not sure if that helps or not.  Now that I’m going through treatment I make even more of an effort to stay physically active.  I do a stretching video everyday that lasts for 12 minutes.  I walk almost everyday with a couple of days of 4 km walks including chemo day and the day after.  Cycle 2 I was sleepy for about 72 hrs but my body didn’t feel fatigued.  So far I’m sleepy today but that is because I woke up at 4 am and couldn’t go back to sleep.  It was probably the Dexamethasone I’m on as I forgot to take something for sleep last night.  My oncology nurse said every workshop she goes to they state exercise is key to cutting fatigue.  I read one study that said regular exercise cuts fatigue by 50-60%.  I feel better when I stretch and exercise.  My last 4 cycles change and the side effects become sore joints so I’m hoping it won’t be so bad as to keep me from getting out.

1952 Posts
Great topic!

Yes, I suffered with fatigue. It took me by surprise and was something I had not really experienced before. 
As an A-type personality, busy and driven, it was hard to find I had to take my time, pace myself, decide what we're my priorities each day and accept doing very little, napping every day. I found moving every day - a walk with the dog, exercising when I could, getting out snow shoeing (chemo occupied last winter) I was up to it, helped me cope with it. I was not going to let fatigue rule my life.

I found it really hard getting back to work. My insurance company gave me a 3 month gradual return after I finished active treatment, and since it was summer but I didn't get any vacation during that time, I was keen to comply. I found it was really difficult to judge what I could do, and I got it wrong frequently. I found it scary to hit the fatigue wall at work, knowing I had to drive an hour home.

My magic ’pill’ for fatigue has been exercise - it still is 5 months after finishing treatment. Like using a savings account, I invest energy in exercising and I get energy plus interest back. I was back in the gym routinely through radiation and three weeks after finishing radiation I started a couch to 5 k running program with the goal of running in the Cibc run for the cure. I hadn't run since I was in high school. I'm still running, 2-3 times a week, and working up to 10k. And yet, 5 months ago I had to rest after getting dressed, and was breathless after climbing more than 3 stairs!

I'm not back to my previous energy levels yet - I still have to prioritize my activity, and there are many occasions when the fatigue hits me hard, but it's much better, which is really encouraging. I feel like I have my life back!
25 Posts
This is the worst side effect. There are times, I want to do something,  but I just can't get up. Feeling tired after waking up is worst and can sometimes feel depressing. The people from Inspire health suggested to go for short walks and deep  breathing. I tried and it helps. Though, sometimes, I have to figure out if it is fatigue or depression that's pulling me down. It is really difficult emmotionally too. It's a struggle every day. I try to find ways for comfort, some encouragement and inspirations to move on and that gets exhausting too. It's a cycle.🥺
24 Posts
Essjay‍  I am not on the same level as you with regards to energy.  I am having problems with my feet and legs which is an hinderance.  I am scheduled for a knee replacement in March.  Regardless I realize that I must push myself a little harder especially after reading your writeup. Thank you.  MyrlaneB
1952 Posts
MyrlaneB‍ - I hear you! I have mild neuropathy and sometimes walking or running hurts! I have no idea how it’s going to be through winter either! But I have found that moving helps. 
Good luck with the knee replacement - I have a couple of friends prepping for their surgeries and they are working hard on their fitness and mobility to help their recovery.
i have pushed myself hard, I have cried, I have made myself hurt, but doing so has helped...
10 Posts
I seem to be tech-challenged these days, so I couldn't find a way to make a new post LOL  One of the side effects, apart from fatigue :)
Yes, fatigue has been an ongoing battle for me since chemo, which ended in August 2018.  I have always slept with earplugs and sleeping pill, but I haven't been able to sleep through the noise of the rest of the apartment house I live in, over the past couple of years.  It is only in the last month or so that I've regained 9 hours/night.  I've done that by shifting my sleeping hours.  I have no need to get up at 7am, and am a night owl anyhow, so going to bed super early in order to get up at 7am is not for me.  What I'm doing now is to go to sleep at about 2am and wake at about 11am.  I don't *like* getting up that late in the day.  OTOH, getting that sleep again is wonderful.
Apart from even getting enough sleep at night, I do suffer from fatigue.  I also recognized that I've been suffering from depression, and have started therapy of a sort with an oncological therapist, who is uniquely able to help with this type of depression.
I just, one week ago, had a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy.  I'm dealing with healing and fatigue again!  I have the lessons of recovering from cancer and chemo last year to lean on this time around.  I'll be having full clearance dental surgery and immediate full dentures in January.  At this point, I'm wondering if I'm going to be able to deal with the months of recovery that come with that.  Guess I'll find out ;>

9 Posts
My last radiation treatment was 14 months ago and l still suffer from extreme fatigue. I”m okay in the mornings but then it really hits me in the afternoon and evening. It’s so bad l don’t want to get off the couch. Doctors don’t want to discuss it because there is nothing they can do for cancer fatigue. Just like there is nothing they can do for my destroyed salivary glands. It has been very difficult to deal with my limited energy because before this nightmare started l was very athletic and was constantly on the go. I try to take one day at a time and hope that one day this fatigue will pass. 
1405 Posts
I had fatigue while going through radiation treatment and for a few months afterwards.  I am 23 months post radiation and most of the time have a good energy level.   I am retired and I have the luxury to take a "day off" when my energy level is low, I look at it as a pampering day I give to myself.  I curl up with a good book, watch netflix or work on a small project, let my husband do the meals, and think of positive thoughts.
Garrie‍, allie‍, Essjay‍, MyrlaneB‍, Dhenne‍, Wendy Tea‍, princessmaura‍, Nan1‍, Mama Bear‍, Elsie13‍, Rob0009‍, law‍, Marcell‍, JustJan‍, Mystiquewolf‍, Amores‍, Hadrian‍, Marsh‍, WestCoastSailor‍ , SpeedyStill‍ , Picasso’s mannequin‍, Missk‍, Aries‍, Peanut‍ 

Thank you to everyone who took the time to share their personal experience with fatigue! Here is some additional info I hope you find helpful:


Managing fatigue

Fatigue can affect everyone differently. For some, fatigue may be more of a nuisance. For others, it interferes greatly with daily life. Your doctor will treat or manage your fatigue based on its possible causes and your individual situation.

Fatigue can be a short-term problem that goes away after treatment ends. It can also continue long after you finish treatment. Follow-up after cancer treatment includes checking for fatigue.

Once your healthcare team knows the cause of your fatigue, they can suggest ways to treat it. Treatment may include nutritional supplements or medicines. If your red blood cell count is low, you may need a blood transfusion.

Some people find it hard to manage fatigue. It can be helpful to keep track of your activity and resting times in a journal or calendar. Make notes of when you are most tired, when you have the most energy and what activities increase fatigue. This can help you find ways to better manage your fatigue. You can also try these tips:

  • Make changes to activities that increase fatigue or try not to do them as often.
  • Plan activities for when you have the most energy.
  • Pick what’s most important to do and do it first. Or do only it.
  • Rest when you need to.
  • Limit stress.
  • Eat well. Talk to a dietitian about healthy eating.
  • Be as physically active as you can be. Ask your doctor about what activities might be good for you.
  • Meditate or try relaxation exercises.
  • Talk to a counsellor to help with your emotions and managing stress.
  • Focus on what you can do and not on what you can’t do.

Read more: http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/diagnosis-and-treatment/managing-side-effects/fatigue/?region=ab#ixzz64zt9q6UB

Hang in there!
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