• Starting Radiation Therapy soon. Can fatigue be avoided?

    Asked by Kp2018 on Wednesday, September 12, 2018

    Starting Radiation Therapy soon. Can fatigue be avoided?

    I would love to hear from others who've gone through Radiation for breast cancer. Does regular exercise help combat the side effect of fatigue? Is keeping to an exercise routine and schedule even possible?

    I think regular exercise helped me a lot through 20 weeks of chemo. (4 cycles of AC followed by 12 cycles of Taxol). I had very little fatigue and few other side effects.

    I'd love to know how other exercisers managed Radiation Therapy.

    Thanks

    22 Answers from the Community

    22 answers
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar
      LiveWithCancer

      The only side effect I have had from radiation is fatigue. It has been a year for me and I have never regained my stamina.

      Yes, an exercise routine is possible and will likely help. I quit doing the sport of dog agility that I had done throughout my cancer journey and that kept me from being too fatigued. I quit primarily due to heat and $$ ... I would probably be far less fatigued today if I had kept it up, even if at a reduced rate.

      14 days ago
    • cllinda's Avatar
      cllinda

      It might help. I was so sick from chemo that exercise was out of the question. Before breast cancer, I was a daily swimmer. As I started feeling better, we started the radiation. I thought I could start swimming again but the chemicals in the pool could hurt my skin so it wasn't allowed.
      The fatigue was very real. I was taking 3-4 short naps a day and going to bed at 8 pm. The fatigue was still affecting me until about six weeks after I stopped radiation.
      I have arthritis in my knees and swimming makes me feel good.
      Good luck as you enter this part of the journey.

      14 days ago
    • Kp2018's Avatar
      Kp2018

      Thank you, LiveWithCancer. It seems that it won't be unrealistic for me to try to keep up with my routine. I'll have the bonus of much cooler weather, too, as well as only a small financial commitment.

      I sincerely hope you get your energy back. Dog agility looks very physically demanding but a lot of fun for the dog.

      14 days ago
    • Carool's Avatar
      Carool

      I was lucky with my breast radiation. I was only 51 then and went through radiation without much fatigue at all. I was working 25 hours a week then, not full-time. After chemo, radiation was pretty easy. Good luck with your radiation.

      14 days ago
    • Kp2018's Avatar
      Kp2018

      Thank you, cllinda. It's nice to know that there may be light at the end of the tunnel with energy returning weeks after the radiation is completed. I don't mind napping and early bedtimes, as long as I can keep doing what I love.

      14 days ago
    • Kp2018's Avatar
      Kp2018

      Thank you Carool. Your experience shows how unique each of us is. I found chemo pretty easy, so I hope my luck holds out.

      14 days ago
    • Carool's Avatar
      Carool

      KP2018, actually, chemo wasn't terrible for me, either, but it was still much tougher than radiation.

      14 days ago
    • Kp2018's Avatar
      Kp2018

      Carool, now that's encouraging! While I won't expect an easy ride, I'll know it may be possible. Thanks!

      14 days ago
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar
      LiveWithCancer

      @Kp2018, you are right!! The dogs LOVE agility. It is a ton of fun for the handler, too!!! I miss it a lot. Hopefully, this fall, i can try again. Unfortunately, my dogs are starting to get a little old for the sport. It is very demanding for them (and me!!!)

      14 days ago
    • Songwriter's Avatar
      Songwriter

      They give steroids with Radiation and it makes you exhausted. I'd lay low for awhile.

      14 days ago
    • SandiA's Avatar
      SandiA

      Hi! I was able to work during my radiation. Fatigue was a side effect. The one thing that really helped was staying hydrated. I got dehydrated very easily. I finally started keeping track of my water and it made a huge difference.

      14 days ago
    • Carool's Avatar
      Carool

      Songwriter, they DO NOT give steroids with radiation - at least not for breast radiation. Please do not give incorrect information.

      14 days ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar
      GregP_WN

      In 88 when I had radiation I worked all the way through. I was recovering from chemo when I started it and I felt better each week. I said back then that I couldn't even tell that I was getting treatment. Until the throat and mouth sores started in. But still, it was a cakewalk compared to radiation I had in 2009. That time it kicked my butt! I worked all the way through it too, I had Tx early in the morning, then went to my office, then out to the field to work on projects. So I was getting plenty of exercise, but by the 3rd week, I had to start going home at 3 to nap. It was really getting to me. I couldn't see myself exercising as a routine at all, but again, I was working in an extremely physical job.

      13 days ago
    • Kp2018's Avatar
      Kp2018

      SandiA, Thanks for the reminder about hydration. I've been faithfully gulping down lots of water during chemo, and I'm sure it has helped. I know my "normal" body becomes very fatigued with dehydration. I actually was wondering if that was a factor for many people contributing to fatigue during radiation. I will definitely keep the hydration going.

      13 days ago
    • Kp2018's Avatar
      Kp2018

      GregP_WN, Thanks for sharing your experience. I am awed by people who manage to work throughout their treatments. Their examples have inspired me to do as much as I can throughout treatment.

      13 days ago
    • Kp2018's Avatar
      Kp2018

      Carool and Songwriter, the radiation oncology nurse said nothing about steroids during radiation. I'm relieved because they have caused me so much sleep deprivation during chemo. I finally accepted my oncologist's offer of a prescription for a sleep aid (an off label use of Elavil) which has helped a lot the first nights after infusion and allowed me to get my normal sleep pattern restored. I'd certainly hate to have to resume taking steroids again!

      13 days ago
    • zumbafan's Avatar
      zumbafan

      I kept up my exercise routine during chemo (Zumba & Spin) but there were weeks I could only do 2 or 3 instead of 5 days. I had TCH. Radiation was no problem. I would get tired and need a nap late afternoons but still did my exercise 5x a week. It was a lot easier to do than doing chemo. I also worked full-time but from home so that also made it easier. Good luck!

      13 days ago
    • Kp2018's Avatar
      Kp2018

      zumbafan, that was awesome! I am encouraged and inspired. I'm going to see if there's a Zumba class that I can plug into the time that chemo took. There's nothing like doing something really fun. Thanks for your example.

      12 days ago
    • gpgirl70's Avatar
      gpgirl70

      I got more and more fatigued as the weeks went by, but I did manage to keep going to yoga class and walking as much as possible. I took lots of naps and went to bed early. I'm sure exercise helps but I think it is important to practice self care and listen to your body. Radiation is of such short duration in the scheme of things and one can always get back to exercising when it's over.

      11 days ago
    • Kp2018's Avatar
      Kp2018

      gpgirl70, thanks for the perspective. It is a short duration treatment, only 4 weeks (20 sessions). I'm hoping that continuing to exercise will reduce the side effect of fatigue. While I certainly don't live to exercise, it is an extremely important part of my self care, both physically and mentally. I'm sure my outlook on having this disease and my resilience (so far) during treatment, have been positively affected by exercise. But, I can certainly modify it and my sleep patterns when my body says "enough!" Your sage advice is appreciated.

      11 days ago
    • theresarae's Avatar
      theresarae

      Keeping yourself hydrated and rested will help with the fatigue. If you’re having to work full weeks, it may get overwhelming for you and that’s when fatigue is it’s worst. Also having a good burn cream helped me.

      9 days ago
    • Kp2018's Avatar
      Kp2018

      theresarae, thanks for reinforcing the importance of hydration and rest. I can pretty much set my own schedule,too, thankfully. When I go in for the simulation session, I will ask about burn cream. Thanks for bringing that up.

      9 days ago

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