Feeling fatigued during chemotherapy

Have you been feeling downright exhausted, tired and spent? Mentally and physically? That’s probably fatigue talking.

What exactly
is fatigue?

Everyone describes it a bit differently. Some men say they are dog-tired, drained or weary all the time. Others say that are completely knackered and exhausted most of the day.

The key difference is that fatigue goes beyond occasional tiredness. It’s like your energy has been completely zapped — making it harder to sleep, work, hang out with friends and family, and get on with everyday life. It's not usually the kind of sleepiness that you can push through by getting a good night of sleep, or with a cup of coffee. This feeling of being drained can linger for a long time, sometimes even months or years. Simply just being tired, on the other hand, usually goes away after resting up a bit.

People describe this type of fatigue as ‘whole-body tiredness’.

How common is it?

Almost everyone diagnosed with cancer experiences fatigue, as cancer itself is a lot on the body. Fatigue is so common, that about 3 in 4 men with prostate cancer go through it. 

What causes it?

It’s tricky, because a number of things can bring on fatigue. With prostate cancer, it’s common to feel quite worn down due to:

  • not having enough sleep or rest

  • eating poorly and not getting the right amount of exercise

  • stress, anxiety or depression

  • aches and pains from treatment

  • your chemo sessions

Take time to listen to your body and better understand where your exhaustion may be coming from. Work with your doctor or care team to understand what you can expect, and how to best manage your energy supply going forward.

Fatigue
and chemo

During chemo, your energy levels will probably be up and down. Your doctor will tell you how many rounds of chemo you’ll have and how many weeks your sessions will last. Fatigue can make this time challenging. As you have more sessions, the fatigue can start to feel worse.

After finishing a whole course of chemotherapy, most men find their energy levels improve. Even with this improvement, however, it can feel like the fatigue is lingering on for a few weeks or a bit longer.

What can you do to
pump up your energy?

Eating well before, during and after treatment is key. Keeping active with an exercise program could also help improve your energy levels. To help you get going, talk to your team about having a nutrition and workout plan created that will work just for you.

Talk to your doctor or
care team about fatigue

If you’ve been feeling excessively tired, whether physically or emotionally, let your doctor or care team know. They can guide you towards getting proper rest, nutrition and exercise, and any other help you may need. 

Additional resources

Causes of fatigue and ways to manage it
Managing fatigue at home and work
Ways to support someone with fatigue
Finding services that deliver meals
Improve fatigue with a healthy lifestyle
Fatigue and your relationships

What's next?

Now that you've read up on Feeling fatigued during chemotherapy , here are some related articles to explore as you continue to build your knowledge and understanding of this topic.
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