How to manage fatigue in relationships and everyday life after prostate cancer treatment
You may not realize the energy it takes just to maintain your normal routine while going through prostate cancer. Everyday tasks, like getting dressed or taking a shower can be more draining than they used to be. Living with prostate cancer can quickly make you aware of how much energy it takes to get even simple things done, but there are ways to cope.
How fatigue can affect daily living
Keeping up with work may get more challenging while dealing with prostate cancer. Fatigue can affect your ability to concentrate, multi-task and perform your normal work duties.
Know your rights at work
It’s important to know your legal rights as an employee. Know your company’s policies and review the employee handbook. There are laws designed to protect you from discrimination.
Talk to your employer. If your boss knows what you’re going through, as well as the laws, you might be able to adjust your schedule to help you get the job done. You might need work-from-home days or extra breaks, for example.
Concentrating, remembering things, understanding new information and making decisions can be tougher.
Traveling to appointments
Traveling to your appointments for treatment, can make fatigue worse. Getting ready, gathering what you need, and then travelling to your destination can unexpectedly tire you out, especially if you are having treatment in a different region to where you live.
Sudden feelings of tiredness can happen at any moment—so you must be careful if driving or operating a machine while undergoing treatment for prostate cancer.
What’s keeping you up at night? Is it the TV? Needing to urinate frequently? Worrying about what’s next in your prostate cancer journey? If you’re having trouble getting to sleep, this can make your fatigue worse. Turning off electronics and drinking less liquids before bed can help. But if you stay up late because of stress, fear, or anxiety, it’s time to talk to your doctor or care team.
Socializing and relationships
It may not seem obvious, but fatigue can put a lot of pressure on your relationships. Hanging out with friends and family may take more effort than it did before. Talking things out with your partner, family, and friends can help.
When you’re this drained, normal routines feel harder to complete. Getting things done, especially around the house, can be exhausting. You may find yourself depending on others around you, and it’s uncomfortable. This is where it helps to let the people close to you know how you’re doing.
Learn more about how fatigue in your relationships works, as a team.
Talk about what you need.
Seek help with work, money or household tasks.
Reach out to other friends, family members, and health professionals for support.
To ease the stress, you can:
You may not feel up to some activities that you’ve done together in the past, but you can create new ways to keep your connection strong. Take this opportunity to get closer together, instead of drifting apart.
Energy for sex may be in short supply, whether you’ve had treatment or not. To help with this, plan to have sex during the times of the day you tend to be less fatigued. Include your partner in your plan, and talk together about what times of day could work best. It will take some good communication to find the right rhythm, but it can help you both feel on the same page.
For more support, you can get advice from a sexual health counselor who will understand your concerns. They’ll listen to you and can help you work towards a healthy and satisfying sex life as a team.
Pain or pain-relieving drugs
If you’re already in pain from either the prostate cancer itself or treatment for it, adding fatigue to the mix doesn’t help. Both the pain and pain medications can affect your energy levels, so talk to your doctor. There may be other options to manage your pain.
How can you fend off fatigue during treatment?
Fatigue during prostate cancer can be caused by a number of things, but there’s plenty you can do to help ease that draining feeling. Review these tips below often and remember to talk to your doctor or care team if you have questions.
Talk to your doctor or care team
Tell your doctor or nurse how you’re feeling. They can help you understand what could be making your fatigue worse and help you manage it. If you feel very stressed, anxious, or depressed, please speak up because they need to know.
Ask family and friends for support
Asking for help is a sign of strength and courage, especially if you’re used to doing things for yourself. Make a list of activities you currently do for yourself daily. Then, take another look at your list and imagine which tasks a partner, friend, or family member could take on. There are probably a few things other people can help with—so don’t be afraid to ask.
Plan your days in advance
Keep a notepad to jot down what your days or weeks look like. You may feel like you don’t have enough energy for it all, but planning ahead will help you take care of the most important items.
Rest and relax
Taking several deep breaths.
Playing relaxing music.
Listening to an audiobook.
Going for a walk in nature.
To wind down, try:
Doing these will help you focus and give your body and mind time to rest.
Eat and drink well
A healthy, consistent diet is necessary to keep your energy up. Ask your doctor to refer you to a dietitian, who can say which foods are best for you. You may even want to check out healthy delivery options from the grocery store.
Exercise and physical activity have been shown to help beat fatigue. Even if you’ve been quite light on activity before, it’s highly recommended that you start including exercise in your daily routine, under your doctor’s guidance. With some exercise, your energy levels could actually increase. With more energy, you might be able to get back to doing the things you enjoy, sooner.
Make sure you work with your doctor or care team to find a plan that works for you.