Well there are medical, physical and emotional causes of this fatigue.
Medical causes should of course be gone over with your treatment team of doctors. Medical causes could be anemia (low red blood cell count), infection, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, malnutrition, medication side effects. You should always be honest with your medical team and inform your oncologist or nurse if you experience this.
Physical causes of cancer related fatigue are the obvious over-doing it, pushing yourself, normal mom duties, but can be organ dysfunction, deconditioning (lack of physical exercise) due to bed rest, inflammation from treatments or medication. Inflammation is a big issue for proper health and maintaining remission of disease. Inflammation is a beast and I will go into that issue further in a future blog post.
Emotional fatigue can feel like you are tired to your bones. Emotional fatigue can be caused by the obvious: stress, depression, fear of reoccurrence, fear of death, brain fog from chemo or radiation. A cancer patient is flooded with what feels like a ton of emotions and thoughts, fears when we are diagnosed, hearing about treatment plans, surgeries and trying to cope or learn how to live after treatment. Not to mention the stress we feel about the change in life and finances that are associated with it.
The general public doesn't seem to understand that fatigue is not a joke, it's not an excuse. For a cancer patient or survivor it never goes away. I have been dealing with cancer since 2011 and even now I find myself exhausted over seemingly simple exercises that didn't exhaust me before. This change is frustrating. I still feel somewhat "young" but my body acts "old". I spent the day at Disneyland with my family and the next day I was so tired I spent the day binge watching T.V. and napping.
As hard as it is to get used to, cancer fatigue needs to be taken seriously and you have to give yourself permission to rest, take it easy, nap. Your body needs it, your health needs it. Listen to your body when you need to rest, then sit back, get comfy and go for it.
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