“The #1 complaint of cancer survivors is Cancer-Related Fatigue (CRF) which can affect an individual’s relationships, daily activities, and economic state.”
American Journal of Nursing

CRF is a level of tiredness deeper than simple lack of sleep. “Bone weary” is how some people describe it. Often fatigue will dissipate over time, and with a gradual increase of exercise and better nutrition habits, you will regain energy.

However, in some cases treatment for cancer can cause anemia and anemia can be the cause of fatigue. Anemia is a drop in the blood’s oxygen-carrying components. A simple blood test can show whether you have anemia and the cause of it (such as iron deficiency). Simple changes in what you eat can help relieve this condition or medications may help.

Tips for fighting fatigue include:

  • Careful planning to take advantage of your best times of day 
  • Consistency in times for waking and sleeping 
  • Cutting back on, but not cutting out, favorite pastimes 
  • Finding chances to rest 
  • Creatively changing normal activities 
  • Accepting fewer responsibilities or volunteer activities to enable more “free time” for rest 
  • Asking for help and allowing others to help you 

This last tip can be hard to follow, especially for people who have been the doers, comforters and helpers for their families and communities and see themselves fulfilling these roles.

If fatigue is a problem in your life, your doctor should know. Keep track of how often you experience fatigue. This will prepare you to answer any questions your doctor may ask during your next follow-up visit. Remember: If your doctor or nurse doesn’t ask about fatigue or other symptoms, it is up to you to mention it.

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