How to Manage Fatigue When Undergoing Chemotherapy

We all at times feel exhausted. We tell others that we are so tired and have no energy. Luckily for most of us, these feelings of exhaustion are nothing compared to the energy-draining fatigue of someone undergoing chemotherapy. No amount of rest relieves the persistent fatigue of cancer while going through chemo. That’s the difference between normal fatigue and cancer fatigue. So let’s look at how to manage fatigue when undergoing chemotherapy.

Know What to Expect

Of course, everyone is different and will experience this fatigue in various ways.

  • Don’t underestimate the emotional toll this will take on you as well. The emotional stress from having cancer can cause anxiety and depression. These can drain anyone’s motivation and energy.
  • Nausea and a lost appetite can lead to poor nutrition and make it difficult to keep your body fueled as needed.
  • Many of the medications for pain, nausea, and depression can cause fatigue.
  • The pain and the natural distress from having cancer can make it much more difficult to get enough rest.
  • If that’s not enough, some of the meds you take will decrease or kill your red blood cells which carry oxygen and nutrients to the rest of your body.

Be prepared for all these side effects and try to plan. 

What Can You Do to Manage Fatigue During Chemotherapy

Talk with your oncology team.

Provide all the information about when the fatigue started, whether is it getting worse, and what part of the day is it the worst. Detail what activities, meds, food, and people seem to make it worse or better. How rested do you feel after a full night’s sleep? This will help our oncologists know triggers and your level of fatigue to help treat it.

Do your best to save your energy.

Decide what you need and ask friends and relatives to help with daily activities that have become hard for you to manage. Grocery shopping, cooking meals, and taking your children for a few hours a day can give you some uninterrupted rest. Do the things you need to do to stay energetic. You come first right now.

Eat nutritious meals.

Even if you can’t eat a whole meal, eat small portions during the day. Drink lots of water, try smoothies and vegetable juice, and combine olive oil with pasta, bread, and in salad dressing.

Try to remain active.

Sitting too long can make you even more tired so move more. Get into the habit of taking a short walk each day. Stop for breaks when you need to. 

If you are trying to continue working, let the HR director, your supervisor, and a selected number of co-workers know what is going on. If it becomes too much for you, remember you are more important than the next project at work. 

Try some complementary therapies.

Take melatonin, try acupuncture, tai chi, and yoga. Massage therapy can help too. Contact board-certified oncologists by requesting an appointment online if your energy level becomes worse or if you find it difficult to get out of bed. We are here to help.