Can Stress Management Help With Cancer Fatigue
Managing stress can play an important role in combating fatigue. Here are some ways you can manage stress:
- Adjust your expectations. For example, if you have a list of 10 things you want to accomplish today, pare it down to two and leave the rest for other days. A sense of accomplishment goes a long way to reducing stress.
- Help others to understand and support you. Family and friends can be helpful if they can “put themselves in your shoes” and understand what cancer fatigue means for you. Cancer support groups can be a source of support as well. Other people with cancer truly understand what you are going through.
- Relaxation techniques including guided meditation, deep breathing or visualization can help reduce stress and minimize cancer fatigue.
- Divert your attention. Activities that divert your attention away from fatigue can also be helpful. Activities that require little physical energy but demand attention include knitting, reading or listening to music.
If your stress feels overwhelming, talk to your healthcare provider. They are there to help.
What Caregivers Can Do
- Help schedule friends and family members to prepare meals, clean the house, do yard work, or run errands for the patient. You can use websites that help organize these things, or ask a family member to look into this for you.
- Try not to push the patient to do more than they are able to.
- Help the patient set up a routine for activities during the day.
Fatigue Can Decrease Your Quality Of Life
Cancer fatigue can affect all areas of your life by making you too tired to take part in daily activities, relationships, social events, and community activities. You might miss work or school, spend less time with family and friends, or spend more time sleeping. In some cases, physical fatigue leads to mental fatigue and mood changes. This can make it hard for you to pay attention, remember things, and think clearly. If you suffer from cancer fatigue, you may need to take leave from a job or stop working completely. Job loss can lead to money problems and the loss of health insurance. All these things can lessen your quality of life and self-esteem.
Recommended Reading: Crohn’s Disease Tiredness And Fatigue
Working With A Physical Therapist Or Occupational Therapist
Physical therapists and occupational therapists are healthcare professionals who can help you manage your fatigue with exercise.
- PTs help improve your ability to move by helping you regain strength and balance. They can also help you come up with an exercise plan that works for you.
- OTs help improve the skills you need to do important everyday activities, such as getting dressed, taking a shower, or cooking a meal. They can help you come up with a plan to do these activities without getting too tired. They can also teach you how you can save your energy. OTs can show you how to use special equipment, such as tools to help you get dressed. They can also teach you other ways you can improve your fatigue, such as through meditation.
PTs and OTs can help you stay motivated and set goals. They can also help you keep track of your energy level and make changes to your exercise plan as needed. If you would like more information about how a PT or OT can help you manage your fatigue, ask your healthcare provider for a referral.
Talk With Your Healthcare Provider
The first step is talking with your healthcare provider about what youre feeling. When talking with your healthcare provider, it can be helpful to describe how your fatigue affects your daily activities and routines. For example, saying I was so tired that I couldnt work for 3 days is more helpful than saying I was really tired.
You May Like: Do Low Blood Platelets Cause Fatigue
How To Fight Fatigue In Patients With Cancer
Cancers paint box includes many shades of fatigue.
Dana Jennings, a patient with prostate cancer who blogs for The New York Times
The shock of a cancer diagnosis. Countless appointments and tests. Sleepless nights filled with worry. The stress of making decisions about treatment. Pain. Sedative effects of medications and treatments. The disease itself. All of these things and more contribute to a widespread yet unpredictable symptom of cancerfatigue.
Fatigue affects 80%-100% of patients with cancer during treatment and even for many years afterward . Because cancer-related fatigue can last for years after treatment, nurses in all settings are likely to encounter it in their patients. The symptom diminishes quality of life and prevents people from working, socializing, caring for their families, and focusing on their health and treatment. Yet fatigue is unpredictable, fluctuating according to Jennings, week to week, day to day, even hour to hour.
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network defines cancer-related fatigue as a distressing persistent, subjective sense of physical, emotional, and/or cognitive tiredness or exhaustion related to cancer or cancer treatment that is not proportional to recent activity and interferes with usual function.
Because cancer-related fatigue is so widespread, nurses in all settings should assess for the symptom and be aware of interventions and treatments that fight fatigue.
When You Are Being Treated For Cancer With Chemotherapy Or Radiotherapy Fatigue Can Become A Life
Fatigue may be experienced as tiredness, weakness, lack of energy, or sheer exhaustion. Learning to recognize and respect your limits often means making adjustments in exercise, work, sleep, eating, and social schedules. Getting extra rest is important and so is eating plenty of nutritious food, because inadequate intake of calories and other nutrients can compound fatigue. Adjusting eating schedules and food choices can help.
Eat as much as possible at your best time of day. If fatigue worsens later in the day, eat a larger breakfast or lunch.
You may feel more like eating after you have napped or rested.
Eat many small meals and snacks throughout the day.
Avoid skipping meals and snacks. Choose liquid nutritional supplements to replace a meal or snack if easy-to-prepare food is unavailable.
At times when you have more energy, prepare foods in quantity. Refrigerate or freeze them for eating later.
Keep leftovers on single-serving containers so they can be easily warmed in the microwave.
Use frozen or canned convenience foods that require little preparation.
Purchase supermarket deli foods and carryout food from restaurants.
Accept the offers of family and friends to help out.
Check on availability of “Meals on Wheels” in your community.
Check on the availability of a “Take Out Taxi” service in your area. These services will pick up foods from participating restaurants and deliver them to your door.
You May Like: Severe Muscle Fatigue And Weakness
How Can Exercise Help Reduce Cancer Fatigue
You may feel ill from your cancer or treatment, which may lead to less physical activity. Decreased levels of physical activity can lead to tiredness and lack of energy. Scientists have found that even healthy athletes forced to spend extended periods in bed or sitting in chairs develop feelings of anxiety, depression, weakness, fatigue and nausea. Regular, moderate exercise can decrease the feeling of fatigue and help you feel energetic. Even during cancer therapy, it’s often possible to continue to exercise. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program.
Exercise has many health benefits. Regular exercise can:
- Increase your appetite.
Standard Approach To Cancer Treatment
Since cancer isnt just one event but a category for seemingly endless variations, each type of cancer and the severity at which its found will inspire different types of treatment.
Surgery is usually a consideration, given as an option as early as when cancer is merely a risk and not a diagnosis until advanced stages that require extensive removal. Sometimes, the tumors or lesions are successfully removed and thats that. Others are not so simple. In some cases, like bone marrow cancer, surgery is rarely, if ever, an option.
The next most common response to cancer in mainstream medicine is to introduce chemotherapy or radiation sometimes both. This is usually a much more difficult decision to make, as conventional treatment side effects can be extensive.
The idea behind chemotherapy and radiation treatments is to attack the cancer cells quickly and dramatically with substances that will kill or neutralize the cancer cells. But it isnt a localized attack. Both chemotherapy and radiation affect whole regions of the body, sometimes the whole body, without any differentiation between cancer cells and healthy cells. So alongside whatever damage is inflicted on cancer cells comes a potential laundry list of side effects. Some will never go away some will prove deadly.
Recommended Reading: Can Crohn’s Disease Cause Fatigue
Study Summary: Ginseng Reduced Fatigue After 8 Weeks Of Treatment
There are 2 major species of ginsengAsian and Americanand they have varying amounts, strengths, and varieties of ginsenosides, which are the active ingredients. In this 8-week, double-blind RCT, Barton et al1 randomized more than 300 patients from 40 US cancer facilities to receive either 1000 mg of American ginseng twice daily or matched placebo capsules. Patients were either currently receiving treatment for cancer or were posttreatment, but within 2 years of receiving a cancer diagnosis. All participants had experienced fatigue for at least a month that they rated as 4 or higher on a scale of 0 to 10. Patients with other causes of fatigue were excluded, as were those who had pain or insomnia rated 4 on a scale of 0 to 10, those with brain cancer or central nervous system lymphoma, those taking systemic steroids or opioids, and those who were using, or had used, ginseng or other agents for fatigue.
Of the 364 randomized participants, 300 remained in the study through the primary endpoint at 4 weeks, and 261 completed the entire 8-week study. There were no baseline differences between groups in demographic characteristics, time since cancer diagnosis, cancer type, current or prior treatment, and fatigue at baseline.
There was no statistically significant difference in adverse events between the ginseng and placebo groups over the 8-week study.
How Can I Lower Stress If I Have Cancer
Managing stress can play an important role in combating cancer-related fatigue. Here are some suggestions that may help.
If your stress seems out of control, talk to a health care professional.
Also Check: Why Do I Have Severe Fatigue
Medicines Other Than Chemotherapy May Add To Fatigue
Patients may take medicines for pain or conditions other than the cancer that cause drowsiness. Opioids, antidepressants, and antihistamines have this side effect. If these medicines are taken at the same time, fatigue may be worse.
Taking opioids over time may lower the amount of sex hormones made in the testicles and ovaries. This can lead to fatigue as well as sexual problems and depression.
Movement And Activity Helps
Its been proven that being active helps to reduce fatigue. Find out whats helped others living with or after blood cancer to keep active, even if you’re mainly staying at home.
Watch our short videos on staying active with and after blood cancer. These videos have been designed to help you build up strength and fitness at home, even if you havent been active for a while.
– Erica, 69
You May Like: What Is Treatment For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Causes Of Cancer Fatigue
- Fatigue in people with cancer may have more than one cause.
- It is not clear how cancer treatments cause fatigue.
- Fatigue related to surgery
- Fatigue caused by radiation therapy
- Fatigue caused by hormone therapy
- Fatigue caused by immunotherapy
Do Physical Activity And Exercise
- Do your best to keep doing your current level of activity. Doing some physical activity for 3 to 5 hours a week may help cancer-related fatigue.
- Walk daily, if your healthcare provider says its safe for you.
- Think about starting an exercise program thats appropriate for your treatment. Yoga may be helpful to include as part of an exercise program.
If youre worried about doing physical activity or exercise, your healthcare provider can refer you to Memorial Sloan Kettering s Rehabilitation Service to meet with a physical therapist or occupational therapist . Read the section Meet with an OT or PT or talk with your healthcare provider for more information.
You May Like: Extreme Fatigue All The Time
Caveats: Ginseng May Not Help Patients Who’ve Finished Cancer Treatment
In this study, ginseng did not improve fatigue at 4 weeks, which was the primary outcome, although benefits were noted after 8 weeks of treatment. Interestingly, though, participants who were receiving radiation and/or chemotherapy during the study experienced significant improvements at 4 and 8 weeks, while those with previous treatment did not significantly improve at either time point.
It may be that ginseng works best to ameliorate cancer-related fatigue in patients simultaneously receiving cancer treatment, but not in those who have completed treatment. The findings also suggest that patients who have completed treatment may wish to try ginseng for longer than 8 weeks to see if it offers any benefit.
Because this study excluded patients with brain cancer, CNS lymphoma, moderate to severe pain, or insomnia and those taking steroids, it is not known if ginseng would help them.
In one study, a low-dose methanolic extract of American ginseng caused a breast cancer cell line to proliferate however, it was later discovered that this extract had been contaminated with Fusarium fungi containing zearalenone, which has strong estrogenic activity.9,10 However, higher doses of a similar methanolic extract, as well as other water-based extracts, have reduced proliferation of breast cancer cells.11
Supplementing The Diet In A Cancer Protocol
Supplements also play a key role in natural cancer remedies, boosting the bodys supply of certain nutrients beyond what the diet can provide. Check your protocol and consult with your wellness professionals before adding supplements, of course, because natural substances are powerful and should be treated with respect. Here are a few supplements likely to be included in your natural protocol.
Probiotics & Enzymes. Digestive support plays many roles in wellness. For cancer therapy, it helps to maximize the effects of the nutritional efforts were making as well as providing microbial support for the immune system and cellular health.
One approach is through proteolytic enzymes, which has been studied as an element of cancer therapy since the early 1900s when John Beard first discussed the potential that pancreatic proteolytic enzymes had to defend the body against cancer. In the early 1980s, it gained traction as an alternative, and we have only learned more since then.
In 2008, researchers published their findings on proteolytic enzymeA protein that speeds up chemical reactions in the body. therapy in the journal Integrative Cancer Therapies. They detailed impressive findings: These studies demonstrated that systemic enzyme therapy significantly decreased tumor-induced and therapy-induced side effects and complaints such as nausea, gastrointestinal complaints, fatigue, weight loss, and restlessness and obviously stabilized the quality of life.
You May Like: Constant Fatigue And Brain Fog
Cancer Fatigue Is Different From Fatigue That Healthy People Feel
When a healthy person is tired from day-to-day activities, their fatigue can be relieved with sleep and rest. Cancer fatigue is different. People with cancer get tired after less activity than people who do not have cancer. Also, cancer fatigue is not completely relieved by sleep and rest, interferes with daily activities, and may last for a long time. Fatigue usually decreases after cancer treatment ends, but some people may still feel fatigue for months or years.
How Long Can Fatigue Last
Cancer related fatigue is different from tiredness which is usually short term and you feel better after you stop, sleep or rest. Cancer fatigue doesnt usually go away with sleep or rest. It can be severe and last a long time.
Fatigue can last for different amounts of time depending on whats causing it. Most people start to feel better after treatment finishes. But it can take several weeks or months before you feel like your old self. In some people it may take a lot longer.
Also Check: Best Fatigue Mat For Standing Desk
When Should I Call My Doctor About Cancer
Although cancer-related fatigue is a common, and often expected, side effect of cancer and its treatments, you should feel free to mention your concerns to your doctors. There are times when fatigue may be a clue to an underlying medical problem. Other times, there may be treatments to help control some of the causes of fatigue.
Finally, there may be suggestions that are more specific to your situation that would help in combating your fatigue. Be sure to let your doctor or nurse know if you have:
- Increased shortness of breath with minimal exertion
- Uncontrolled pain
What Causes Cancer Fatigue
Cancer and its treatment often cause fatigue, known as cancer-related fatigue. Between 80 percent to 100 percent of cancer patients report experiencing fatigue, according to the American Cancer Society.
If you havent been diagnosed with cancer and youre experiencing unexplained, persistent tiredness or lack of energy, you may be wondering if your fatigue could be a symptom of cancer.
While fatigue is a common symptom of cancer, cancer rarely causes fatigue alone. Fatigue is often multifactorial, meaning more than one contributing factor may be involved, and none of them may be cancer.
No matter its cause, fatigue is one of the toughest symptoms to deal with. When patients are struggling with fatigue in their daily life, they want to feel better, and theyre looking for someone to help them. As a medical oncologist at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® , I work every day to help patients enjoy a better quality of life while we fight their cancer.
In this article, Ill cover some common factors that may contribute to cancer-related fatigue. This article examines:
The main focus of this article is on patients whove already received a cancer diagnosis. But first, lets briefly explore fatigue as a symptom of undiagnosed cancer.
Recommended Reading: Signs And Symptoms Of Fatigue