Guide to Managing Your Chemotherapy Treatment: Fatigue

MD Anderson Cancer Center
Date: November 2012

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During chemotherapy you may experience fatigue, meaning you may feel physically or mentally tired.

>> My mom and I would go back and forth, do you want to sleep or do you want to eat?  Mom, I always want to sleep.  But you have to eat.  I know but I would much rather sleep.  So again, the fatigue kind of leads the way and then everything else falls into place after that.

>> Prioritize your activities so that you complete the most important tasks of the day when you have the most energy and let others help you get things done.  And remember, nutrition plays an important role in fatigue.

>> If your body is not getting enough calories, it essentially doesn't have enough energy for you to do activities of daily living such as walking, washing your hair, doing things that we do every day.

>> Eat a balanced diet.  This can be three good size meals or six smaller meals a day.  Drink eight to 12 eight ounce glasses or two to three liters of nonalcoholic, non-caffeinated fluids each day.  Exercise, take short walks or do some other physical activity.  Just be sure to discuss your exercise with your healthcare professional.  Balance rest with activities, making sure you don't spend the whole day in bed.  Be sure to tell your doctor if your fatigue does not get better.  Your doctor may refer you to the MD Anderson Fatigue Clinic for help.

>> I would go to the office and I could only be there a couple hours.  It was very frustrating.  And that can take a mental toll on you if you let it.

>> Sometimes it will make you a little tired in taking it but you find ways to overcome that after you get adjusted to the medication.