Feeling tired and fatigued on active surveillance

It may seem counterintuitive, but fatigue is possible when you’re on active surveillance for prostate cancer. In this case, it’s not the result of any medical treatment. But it can be a mental or emotional side effect of living with prostate cancer — and it’s just as real. So, have you been feeling downright tired or exhausted lately? Mentally, physically or spiritually? That’s probably fatigue talking.

What exactly is fatigue?

Everyone describes it a bit differently. Some tāne say they are, drained or weary all the time. Others say they're completely 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 whānau, 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 tāne 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

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

Fatigue and
active surveillance

People on active surveillance often don’t have many physical problems — but they may still experience stress, anxiety and depression. These issues can make it harder to stay active and take care of yourself — and put you at risk for fatigue. Understanding how these emotional troubles are affecting you physically will help you work on getting your energy back. If you’re feeling exhausted all the time, it’s also possible there’s something else going on. Talk to your doctor or care team about fatigue and what you can do to regain energy.

What can you do to
pump up your energy?

Eating well before, during and after treatment is key. Vegetables, nuts, fish, healthy fats — all these (and more) are important sources of nutrition when you’re going through prostate cancer.

Keeping active with light to moderate exercise could also help improve your energy levels. It's important to get your body moving. To help you get going, talk to your team about having a nutrition and workout plan created that will work just for you. There are also several steps you can take to stay safe during exercise.

Talk to your doctor, care team
or hauora provider about fatigue

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

What's next?

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