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Cancer-Related Fatigue

Fatigue is a common side effect of cancer and its treatments; but, there are steps you can take to combat it.

Assessing Your Cancer Fatigue

If you have cancer, keep a diary for one week to identify the time of day when you are either most fatigued or have the most energy. Note what you think may be contributing factors.

Be alert to your personal warning signs of fatigue. Fatigue warning signs may include:

  • Tired eyes or legs
  • Whole-body tiredness
  • Stiff shoulders
  • Decreased energy or lack of energy
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Weakness or malaise
  • Boredom or lack of motivation
  • Sleepiness
  • Increased irritability or impatience
  • Nervousness or anxiety


Fight Cancer Fatigue With Energy Conservation

There are several ways to conserve your energy during your cancer fight. Here are some suggestions:

Plan ahead and organize your work.

  • Change storage of items to reduce trips or reaching.
  • Delegate tasks when needed.
  • Combine activities and simplify details.

Schedule rests.

  • Balance periods of rest and work.
  • Rest before you become fatigued -- frequent, short rests can help.

Pace yourself.

  • A moderate pace is better than rushing through activities.
  • Reduce sudden or prolonged strains.
  • Alternate sitting and standing.
  • When feeling overwhelmed or fatigued, practice focused breathing to help you relax.

Practice proper body mechanics.

  • When sitting, use a chair with good back support. Sit up with your back straight and your shoulders back.
  • Adjust the level of your work -- work without bending over.
  • When bending to lift something, bend your knees and use your leg muscles to lift, not your back. Do not bend forward at the waist with your knees straight.
  • Carry several small loads instead of one large one, or use a cart.

Limit work that requires reaching over your head and increases muscle tension.

  • Use long-handled tools.
  • Store items lower.

Identify effects of your environment.

  • Avoid temperature extremes.
  • Eliminate smoke or harmful fumes.
  • Avoid long, hot showers or baths.

Prioritize your activities.

  • Decide what activities are important to you, and what could be delegated.
  • Use your energy on important tasks.

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