Friday, October 26, 2012


It was during one of my radiation session that I had naively asked my Oncologist if I could participate in the coming marathon. He nonchalantly replied "yes, if you still can"
Yes fatigue sets in pretty quickly during any type of treatments, be it surgery, radiation, hormonal or chemo. I never stood a chance even when taking small steps, one a time.

I was literally tired out most of the time after my 30 plus radiation sessions. Radiation had zapped up my muscle intensity. It took me a full year to regain some strength to jog up the slopes in my neighbourhood. Below are the explanation as to why we fagged out after treatments.

Fatigue is the number one side effect of cancer treatment. It is a side effect of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and hormonal therapy. Health officials estimate that 90% of people experience fatigue during or after the treatment.

Recognize Fatigue

It is a lack of energy that develops suddenly or slowly over time from our activities of everyday life. It can be overwhelming and it is generally not relieved by rest or sleep.
The symptoms are:
- We feel like we have no energy
- We sleep more than usual
- We have difficulty of concentration
- We feel tired after nighttime
- We lack sexual desire
- We are irritable or impatient
- We feel lazy and not interested of our personal hygiene
We understand that those symptoms will lessen overtime once cancer treatment is over.

The Why of Fatigue

Fatigue during treatment can be related to cancer or the treatment. Many chemotherapy drugs cause fatigue by destroying part of our bone marrow which produce white and red blood cells. The white constitute part of our immune system where as the red carry the oxygen though our blood. Deficiency of one type of these cells will cause anemia.
Healing for surgery can also drain our reserve energy which translates into fatigue.

Contribution to fatigue

We eat less because of loss of appetite with change in taste, nausea, vomiting and mouth sores. We can become dehydrated with diarrhea and vomiting.
Also cancer cells compete with normal cells for nutrients which can slow down the growth of normal cell.

Coping with fatigue

Some ways to decrease or manage fatigue is to adjust our diet, reduce our stress and increase our physical activity.
We can plan short rest period and conserve energy for our important things. We can use light stretching session and exercise to counter fatigue.
Plan our day. We can do the most important thing first and the least important last. Space out activities. We are not doing an iron-man or women here.
Take enough continuous sleep like 8 hours straight. Remember that fatigue is temporary and our energy level will slowly improve as our blood return to normal.
Ask for help with housework, meal and errands. We are not alone and our team will gladly help us. Drink tea, we hydrate ourselves and fight cancer at the same time.
The above article is curtesy from 
Take care
Allen Lai

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