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Struggling with fatigue and body image

Struggling with fatigue and body image

Posted by Reg on Dec 21, 2019 4:39 pm

I am two weeks past my last radiation treatment and it’s been two and a half months since my radical hysterectomy. 
I am still completely exhausted with no motivation to do a thing. 
I have very little appetite and haven’t had much for 2 months. Despite the fact that I’m eating much less, I weigh the most I ever have! I feel bloated and getting dressed is a depressing chore. 
Does anyone have advice or similar experiences? I’m taking Estradiol and I’m wondering if it has something to do with it. I have also been on Paxil for years for panic disorder and I know it causes weight gain. 
Im still thankful to be here and doing well, so I’m sorry if I’m complaining!

Re: Struggling with fatigue and body image

Posted by ACH2015 on Dec 21, 2019 5:52 pm

Hi Reg‍ 

I noticed your post, and looked up the drug information side effects.

Many of the symptoms you reported in your post may be related to the Estradiol medication. I've linked the Side effects of Estradiol for you.

Your fatigue may also be, in part, related to the radiation. I've had it myself, and one thing i was told is that even though you are finished, the side effects (including fatigue and swelling) can continue for several weeks after. Surgery, and the healing process can cause bloating and swelling also.

When you look at everything you have been and still are going through, the fallout may also be contributing to your mood as well. Sometimes its tough to motivate ourselves when many issues pile up on our shoulders. I've been there myself recently. Exercise was one way I was able to get through it. I know mobility may be an issue for you, but just walking about, interacting with others, being in nature can help paint a better picture in our minds.

I'm glad you reached out here - don't think of it as complaining - you are seeking input, and that's a constructive practice..

Coping when you have cancer is a resource I've used and found very helpful from the Canadian Cancer Society. I too have used medications for my mental health, and side effects from them can sometimes compound other side effects from treatments like you've mentioned.

Talk to your medical team about how you feel, your symptoms, and hopefully they can suggest some means to address your situation and help you cope better.

Remember, its only been 2.5 months since a major surgery, and a couple of weeks past radiation. Take a deep breath, and do what you can - when you can. Set attainable goals, and work towards increasing them as long as your medical team gives you the green light.

We need to heal, and that takes a lot of energy in itself.

I hope this helps. Keep us in the loop with how you're doing.



Re: Struggling with fatigue and body image

Posted by Reg on Dec 21, 2019 8:19 pm

Thank you for your kindness. My husband is wonderful but it’s hard sometimes not to feel alone. 
I appreciate having this forum for support. 

Re: Struggling with fatigue and body image

Posted by SLM on Dec 31, 2019 4:13 pm

Hello Reg, 

I too had a radical hysterectomy and radiation (brachytherapy) and do experience fatigue.  I was honest with my doctors, and explained to them how I needed to nap at least three times a day - even if it was only 15 minutes.  I had my hysterectomy at the end of August, so we are similar in our time frames. 
My doctors told me that this is normal, and rest when your body tells you to rest.  It could be up to a year before your body fully recovers. 
So know that what you are experiencing is a normal part of your battle to beat this thing!

Good luck

My cancer, my rules
Be the storm!

Re: Struggling with fatigue and body image

Posted by Treepeo on Jan 1, 2020 12:51 am

Hi Reg,

You are not complaining, you are expressing how you honestly feel, and that is a good thing.  Going through cancer is no picnic, and you can't always be upbeat.  You are allowed to feel down, fatigued, or just generally pissed off.  Those are all normal feelings.

I can relate to your problems with body image.  Right now, I am heavier than I have ever been, or ever thought I would be, and it is disconcerting.  But this is not the right time for me to try to deal with my weight.  I have bigger fish to fry, like preparing myself for surgery, date to be determined.  And I will most likely need radiation as well.  But after all of that, I will see what I can do in terms of exercising, etc.  All in good time.

Try to be kind to yourself, Reg.  It sounds like you have been through an awful lot already.  Give yourself a chance to adjust.  And try to forget about all the images out there that we are bombarded with regarding what it means to be a pretty woman.  Real woman come in all different shapes and sizes.  What we look like does not determine who we are.  Being kind to ourselves and to others is far more important than what we weigh.

You have come through both surgery and radiation.  You should be so proud of yourself.  I salute you.  Please give yourself the credit you deserve.  And believe that better days are coming.  You just need some time.

I am rooting for you.

Re: Struggling with fatigue and body image

Posted by 1b2 on Jan 2, 2020 9:15 am


I am currently about 6 months post treatment. The oncologists told me that I’d most likely be at my worst a couple weeks out of treatment and they were pretty correct. I did not have surgery, I can’t imagine how challenging that must have been. My treatment included chemo, radiation and brachytherapy. Be patient and kind to yourself your body and mind are still going through a very challenging time. 

I remember telling the Dr. how bloated I felt and even the feeling of wearing sweatpants was so irritating like nails down a chalkboard. They told me this was not a  symptom they had heard??What can I say, it was my truth. But eventually that feeling went away. I have gained a little weight from treatment and found it frustrating. Maybe all the drugs, fatigue and lack of activity? 

People looked at me and they don’t see in their minds what a ‘typical’ cancer patient should look like. Weight gain, hair (mine thinned out a bit  but not gone), no visible radiation burns.... it’s challenging to explain to others. You can’t see fatigue, fear, cramps, backache, nausea, digestive issues or a general feeling of being unwell. 

I can only encourage by saying I’ve noticed each day I was able to go longer without napping or just being done with the day physically. I am now able to make it to 7:30-8pm each day and even have a few late nights in the month. I’m back to my old schedule (although I find it much harder to get through) of working full time, working out (only 2x a week), cooking, laundry, cleaning, helping kids with homework, taking them to soccer and dance classes, making lunch, and just really giving my full attention to my kids (and my husband if there’s energy left for him!) Pace yourself. Life is so busy without trying to recover from cancer treatment- it’s challenging - this will require more of a different pace. Be patient with yourself. You’ve done and are doing something amazing - you’re kicking cancers ass! 🤗

Re: Struggling with fatigue and body image

Posted by Elsie13 on Jan 2, 2020 8:55 pm

1b2‍ Welcome to cancerconnection, and sorry for what brings you here. Your suggestion to pace yourself and be patient, that is excellent advice!
In 2016: diagnosed with stage 2 ovarian cancer. Treatment: hysterectomy, chemo, radiation. Afterwards: No Evidence of Disease!

Re: Struggling with fatigue and body image

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Jan 3, 2020 9:06 am

Hi, 1b2‍ thanks for sharing your advice!

Having watched my Dad go through chemo, and hearing your description of your own experience, it’s clear there is a “new chemo experience” that is different and more tolerable than the “old chemo experience.” That’s not to say it doesn’t knock the stuffing out of you, but, to me, it’s been remarkable that Dad has had all those treatments and hasn’t had more than a little nausea, and hasn’t lost hair (at least not noticeably).

Wishing you continued success!
“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

Re: Struggling with fatigue and body image

Posted by Buffythevampire on Jan 3, 2020 9:39 am

Reg‍ I didn't have radiation or the drug you mentioned but had weight gain with my chemo treatments. Before my chemo treatments I would have a Dr. appointment where they would weigh me and each time my weight would have increased. I seemed to notice the weight gain in my legs the most. I think it was a combination of things that caused it. The drugs, lack of activity and I too was eating less (mainly because food didn't taste good). My last chemo treatment was Sept 4th, 2019 and I did lose weight but have gained some back as food now tastes good and it was Christmas (more treats everywhere you go).
Take it easy on yourself, your body goes through a lot when you are getting treatments.