I feel ya. It typically takes months, not weeks, to recover from chemo fatigue. And I am still waiting to recover from chemo brain (the fog) almost a year later. Exercise, both physical and mental can definitely help with both. If you are sleeping well at night, you don't need more rest, you need more activity. It is like priming the pump. Start slow, start small, but start and be consistent. Your body does need to recuperate, but it won't recuperate from weakened muscles, depressed metabolic activity, and many other things without exercising you mind and body.
Serous Type Questions
Fatigue from chemo
Asked by Kathy on Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Fatigue from chemo
I've been feeling fatigued and bored. I finished chemo 3 weeks. I was expecting a quicker bounce back. I feel like I have this huge glaze of fog over me. Its worse when im tired. I know exercise can help but then you cant over do it. Then some will say i need my rest in order for the body to recuperate. I feel blessed to have the chemo behind me but hard to enjoy life if Im too tired to do things. I guess this really isn't a question for an answer. But more I'm looking for empathy!! Thanks!
11 Answers from the Community
I'm still undergoing chemo, but friends of mine who have completed treatment have complained for the fatigue lasting longer then expect. Chemo really puts your body through a wringer, and it takes time to recuperate. Try to do 10 min of activity a day, and if the weather is cooperative go outside. You will build up your strength day by day.
I wish someone had told me how long the road back from chemo. Perhaps if I had known what to expect, I wouldn't have felt so frustrated. I too expected to bounce right back, I over did it and I ended up flat on my back for a week. You need rest and to recover slowly. When I looked at my month to month progress, I saw improvement, but not really day to day or even week to week. I am a very active person, and looking back I wish I had some kind of trainer or pshysical therapist to help me out. So be patient you'll get there!
I finished chemo in August but still feel fatigue and have "chemo brain." I have heard that it typically takes one month to reover from every session of chemo you have. So I had 6 sessions, I should feel better in Febraury which seems about right because it is almost February and I have just now been able to go back to the gym and exercise without feeling utter exhaustion.
I understand. I thought I would bounce back quicker also. I took me about 9 months after my last chemo before I felt like doing any exercise except for swimming. After 9 months, I started walking about 15 minutes a few times a week and gradually built up to a brisk daily walk of 30 minutes or more and had the ability to shop for several hours. The key, I believe, is to not overdo it and gradually build up your strength when you are up to it.
Right there with you Kathy. I expected to feel better 2 weeks after chemo. Took more like 2 months (and I still like a short nap every now and again at 7 months out). Hazy is a good word for the concentration. Be patient with ourself - easier said than done. I found it helpful to set small goals and tasks for every day. Then I knew I had accomplished something and built up my stamina. Good Luck. You WILL do it and be pleased.
Oh Kathy, I think everyone who has received chemo understands just where you are right now. I was 63 when I completed almost two years of chemo. Six cycles of three invusions withing a 28 day cycle. Then a shot of neulasta... Then when that was completed, I went in a month later and the oncologist said .... I'd like you to do one more thing... I want to give you chemo once a month for the next twelve months. I had promiced myself to do whatever he asked... I was just starting to regrow my hair.. I was staying awake longer... and we went back down. Thus the next full year was spent.. chemo... sleep,, deal with bone discomfort.... feel a bit energetic.. - chemo... and on. I was so tired I asked my oncologist was there something wrong tht I was so tired.... He reminded me that they were "pouring deadly poison into my body".... He said "sleep when you need to your body is working very hard killing this cancer". So I can say with some certainty... I feel you're almost to that 4th week, when things will start to improve. As I'd drift off to sleep... I'd always thank God for all he had blessed me with, I'd always fall asleep before I could complete my thanks. I'd been DX with Stage IV Ovarian,,,, It is now 7 years later. I'm still cancer free. I'll turn 70 in May... I've gained three more grandchildren AND two great grandchildren. Life is as wonderful as before and getting better. Rest take care and your body will heal and your energy will be waiting for you.
EXERCISE, and do not trust your oncologist to know anything about it. The recent study listed below is an indictment on the failure of oncologists to follow National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines for cancer related fatigue. In spite of exercise having high empirical evidence to reduce cancer related fatigue it is rarely recommended or prescribed by oncologist.
The article: Appropriateness of the treatment of fatigued patients with stage IV cancer Support Care Cancer (2013) 21:229–233. Even though this study was only with stage IV patients the findings are important.
The was a study by the Mayo Clinic on Mayo Clinic patients, and this statement in the Discussion section is sobering:
'However, the low rates of treatment found here are particularly concerning in that this survey was conducted in a resource-rich, quaternary medical center rather than a community setting where 85 % of patients receive their cancer care'
From the results - 'Participants reported treatment or receipt of specific guidance in the fatigue management domains as follows: general management strategies 16.8 %, activity enhancement
11.9 %, psychosocial strategies 9.9 %, and pharmaceuticals 37.3 %.'
'behavioral treatment strategies, e.g. activity enhancement and psychosocial approaches, that have the
strongest empirical support of benefit [19, 20] appeared to be the least likely to be prescribed' - 19. Cramp F, Daniel J (2008) Exercise for the management of cancer related fatigue in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2): CD006145
'multiple investigators from disparate clinical settings have consistently documented underuse of rehabilitation services of proven benefit to people with cancer and treatable physical impairments [21–23]. Low documentation of impairments has been noted among oncologists (<25 %), with intervention rates being even lower (<1 %) . These findings suggest that referrals for behavioral interventions are not well integrated in medical oncology practice patterns regardless of the treatment target.'
'One possible explanation for the low utilization of evidence-based behavioral treatments is that oncologists
may be unprepared to deliver treatments that fall outside of their conventional clinical arsenal.'
'The fact that studies have shown that providing oncologists with information about their patients’ QoL and symptom burden fails to alter treatment patterns'
'it is clear that the vast majority of patients in this study were not engaging in behavioral practices that could ameliorate their fatigue and potentially enhance their QoL.'
'In contrast, although not presented in the table, almost a third of participants reported napping (an activity which may worsen fatigue) during the day . - 26. Berger A (2003) Treating fatigue in cancer patients. Oncologist 8 (Suppl 1):10–14'
We cancer patients/survivors need to keep active, move, and exercise. It is often not easy, and often the fatigue makes us not feel like doing anything, but it is an important part of our treatment, we have to start viewing it that way!