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You Are Not Alone A Practical Guide for Maintaining Your Quality of Life While Living with Cancer You're Not Alone

Fatigue - II. Symptoms and Strategies

Symptoms and Strategies
Sleep Disorders

Cognitive Functioning


Why am I so tired?
Fatigue is described as unusual or excessive whole-body tiredness not easily dispelled by sleep or rest. Fatigue is unquestionably the most common, as well as one of the most debilitating, side effects experienced by cancer patients. It can be generated by the disease itself or by depression, fear, frustration, pain, sleep disturbances, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, or concern for the future. Fatigue is also a frequent side effect of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy.

Another cause of fatigue is anemia (low hemoglobin). Fatigue that is caused by anemia resulting from either the cancer itself, or its therapy, can be treated with blood transfusions and/ or drugs, such as erythropoietin (Procrit®, Epogen® or Aranesp®) Cancer patients who are hypothyroid- a condition resulting from low thyroid hormone production - also experience additional fatigue and sluggishness. This condition can be treated with thyroid hormone replacement therapy.

Some signs of fatigue include:
- A feeling of weariness or exhaustion

- A sense of heaviness, particularly in your limbs

- Disinterest in daily activities, such as eating

- Difficulty maintaining your personal appearance

- Problems concentrating or thinking clearly

Fatigue from all causes may be reduced by various methods. By controlling the symptoms of therapy, ensuring adequate sleep and rest periods, exercising daily, getting and receiving psychological support, you can begin to manage fatigue. Fatigue can also be managed by learning to set priorities, delegate, and modify your daily activities. For example, ask others to help you with meal preparation and household chores.

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