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Fatigue is the most common side effect of cancer and cancer treatments. Fatigue from chemotherapy is different from normal tiredness or being run down. This type of fatigue makes you feel overwhelmingly tired throughout your whole body. It is often not relieved by rest or sleep. Performing your daily activities may be very difficult or even impossible.

Cancer fatigue may be caused by several things or a combination of different factors. The most common causes are anemia (low red blood cell counts), pain, insomnia, emotional stress, and low thyroid levels.

It is important that you tell your healthcare team if you feel fatigued. They may be able to offer helpful suggestions on managing cancer-related fatigue and evaluate its underlying cause.

Fatigue can happen all at once or little by little. People feel fatigue in different ways.

The video below is a great tool to show you and your family/caregiver to reduce distress during your journey.

What you can do

  • Keep a journal. Write down when you are most tired and when you have energy. Plan to do activities you enjoy at those times that you usually have energy.
  • Prioritize. Do the important things first.
  • Exercise. Gentle exercise such as walking can be helpful. Ask your healthcare team about exercises that might be right for you.
  • Conserve your energy. While doing daily chores, try to find ways that make them easier, such as sitting down to prepare food.
  • Eat well and drink plenty of water.
  • Keep a regular sleep routine. Save your longest sleep for nighttime. Take only short naps or rest periods during the day.
  • Take care of yourself both emotionally and physically. Limit visitors or length of visits.
  • Restore your mind. Try activities to distract you from your treatment, such as listening to music, watching TV, or meditating.

Southlake Regional Health Centre
596 Davis Drive, Newmarket, Ontario   L3Y 2P9
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