When you have cancer, the symptoms you feel usually depend on where the cancer is in your body, how big it is, and the organs it affects. The treatments you get can change how you feel, too. Though the disease is different for everyone, some symptoms are very common, including fatigue, pain, and nausea.
No matter which side effects you feel, you don’t have to just live with them. Talk to your doctor about medicines and other ways you can handle your symptoms and feel better.
Everyone gets tired from time to time, but cancer fatigue can make you too exhausted to do anything -- even lift yourself up off the couch. It lasts longer than normal tiredness, and it doesn't get better with rest.
To feel more awake and energized:
- Don't push yourself. Only do as much as you can handle. Ask friends and family to help you with basic chores, like shopping, cooking, or cleaning, so you can save your energy for the things that matter.
- Rest. Take 20-minute naps or breaks during the day to regain your strength.
- Exercise. Moving actually gives you more energy than staying on the couch. Get in the habit of taking a daily walk or bike ride, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. You'll get stronger and feel more alert.
- Eat well. Focus on a balanced diet with lots of fresh vegetables and fruit. Add more protein from eggs, fish, beans, and meat to your meals and snacks. If you don’t feel hungry or it’s hard to eat, talk to a dietitian to see how you can get the nutrients you need.
- Check your medicines. Some drugs you take to treat cancer can make you sleepy. Ask your doctor if you can change medicines or adjust the dose.
- Try yoga or acupuncture. Studies have shown that they may help relieve cancer fatigue.
When cancer spreads, it can press painfully on nerves, joints, bones, and organs. Treatments like chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery also cause some pain.
Cancer pain ranges from mild to severe. It can last for a short time or stick around for a while. When you hurt, ask your doctor for relief right away, before the pain gets worse.