Treatment with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy can cause “the blahs” or feelings of weakness, energy depletion, exhaustion and/or lack of motivation to carry on. Perhaps you could say, “Just plain tired”.

Causes of fatigue include:

  • ANEMIA: treatment reduces the number of circulating red blood cells that carry oxygen to all the cells in your body.
  • Insufficient nutritional intake.
  • Excess metabolic waste products due to cell destruction that result from your treatment.
  • Insufficient sleep or rest. One of the medicines used to help prevent nausea can cause wakefulness.
  • Chronic pain.
  • Stress.
  • Depression.

You can relieve “The BLAHS” by following these suggestions:

  • Realize that fatigue is expected with chemotherapy/radiation therapy. It is not a sign that your illness is worsening or that treatment is not working. When treatment is completed, energy will return.
  • Conserve energy. Rest when you are tired. Listen to your body. Do the things you want to do when your energy is at its highest level.
  • Avoid doing too much too soon. Plan for gradually increasing activities. A few small walks or activities performed over the course of the day will help you to maintain and build strength. Resting all day and then taking one long walk or doing a big chore may use all your energy reserves. Longer periods of rest alternating with short periods of activity will help to maintain energy reserves.
  • Recognize when fatigue is greatest and accept help at those times. Family and friends want to help and often need direction from you about how to help:  childcare, housework, yard work, errands, driving, etc.
  • Eat well! Small frequent meals with high caloric and protein value will help rebuild tissues.
  • Work with your doctor/nurse to control pain and other distressing physical symptoms.
  • Try to enjoy fresh air daily.
  • Each day, do one special thing that you enjoy.