Fatigue and cancer treatment

Posted by Nancy, Volunteer Mentor @1nan, Fri, Sep 20 9:06am

It seems that fatigue has affected all aspects of life in the years I have had treatment for multiple myeloma. (Into 4th year.)The cancer causes fatigue, and all treatments list fatigue as most common side effect. My greatest challenge has been to manage time so fatigue doesn’t rule every day, and I wonder how others deal with it. My greatest strategy comes from recognizing that there is major difference between physical and mental fatigue. I have activities that are doable when physical fatigue limits what I do, like writing, mind games, or reading. But having physical energy doesn’t always mean I feel like quilting, baking, etc. I just feel lazy! How do you deal with your fatigue so you stay productive in a good way that keeps you happy?

I would say that “feeling lazy” is a very accurate description for myself as well. I do seem to do better when I get out of the house and away from the comforts of home. I tend to feel like I need a lap the middle of the day as well as feeling the need to head to bed early at night.

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@1kjewels

I would say that “feeling lazy” is a very accurate description for myself as well. I do seem to do better when I get out of the house and away from the comforts of home. I tend to feel like I need a lap the middle of the day as well as feeling the need to head to bed early at night.

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Hi@1nan and @1kjewels– I wrote a blog post on just this subject that I'd love to share with you. https://my20yearscancer.com/chemotherapy-cocktail/
I always thought of the fatigue I felt (2008) as draining my life force, an emptying of energy. I lost quite a bit of weight and I am a petite person so my fatigue along with my weight loss was a double whammy. I did not exercise and I should have tried to do at least some, even walks, slow turtle like strolls.
I have stage IV a multifocal adenocarcinoma of the lung. I do get very tired but I find that the more that I do exercise the more energy I have. I know that this sounds contradictory but it's true. I'm slower and a bit more cautious, but I love being out doors. I also eat 4 or 5 small meals a day so that I am not over eating and I keep my fats to healthy ones. Regular physical activity increases the blood flow to your body and improves your cardiovascular health and fitness. This will allow more blood and oxygen to get to the body providing energy to do work. … Exercise is a great way to improve energy levels.
https://www.sharecare.com/health/energy-boosters/how-does-exercise-improve-energy
Once my energy level is up I feel more hopeful and positive about my life. Do you ever feel like this?

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@1nan. It’s so true that exercise brings energy. Not crazy, overdone exercise, but simple walking. If I feel really tired, I get out and walk. My brain wakes up even though my body is very tired. I have really learned to pace myself with frequent breaks.

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@becsbuddy

@1nan. It’s so true that exercise brings energy. Not crazy, overdone exercise, but simple walking. If I feel really tired, I get out and walk. My brain wakes up even though my body is very tired. I have really learned to pace myself with frequent breaks.

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@merpreb @kjewels @becsbuddy
Thank you all. Exercise in any form does help. What I neglected to mention is that my spine is so damaged that pain and bone condition limit what that exercise looks like, but I can get pretty creative! As pushups on the counter while coffee reheats yet one more time in the microwave! Anemia is also a gift of myeloma. Sometimes I make a simple meal or special dessert and send an invitation. Who has learned that pushing yourself at home or to go out where you have friends and/or family will provide mental, emotional and physical good? (Especially with lots of silly conversation!)

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I have to deal with fatigue on a daily basis, too. I've accepted the fact that on most days I have to take a long nap. You do learn to plan for the fatigue. Last summer, my wife and I took an extended camping trip to the west coast (6 weeks). As we made plans, we made sure that our traveling days were not too long. And we usually made sure we stayed at each campground for at least 2 nights. That way, I had time to rest up if I needed it. @1nan , I never thought about mental fatigue before. But now that you mention it, I agree that it is real. Sometimes you need to shut down your mind and just do nothing. A couple of things that keep me going are singing old hymns at the retirement/nursing homes in our area and volunteering at our local hospital. I tell people that I've been a patient in just about every department, so I know my way around. During my chemo, I was there so often I asked if I could just buy a membership.

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@1nan

@merpreb @kjewels @becsbuddy
Thank you all. Exercise in any form does help. What I neglected to mention is that my spine is so damaged that pain and bone condition limit what that exercise looks like, but I can get pretty creative! As pushups on the counter while coffee reheats yet one more time in the microwave! Anemia is also a gift of myeloma. Sometimes I make a simple meal or special dessert and send an invitation. Who has learned that pushing yourself at home or to go out where you have friends and/or family will provide mental, emotional and physical good? (Especially with lots of silly conversation!)

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@1nan – Nan it's all good, all good! You are a superb example of doing everything that you can despite your painful limitations. Being active, as much as possible lifts the spirit which lifts the mind and body. Everything is connected. Can you tell me more of the exercises that you can do, or physical activities?

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@merpreb Sometimes I make it up as I go along. But main restrictions have to do with weight lifting limits, and to not "twist" when bending. I also say "no" to offers of help when it refers to something I can do myself. ( Do you hear that child saying she can do it herself? 😁) When I drop something, I squat to pick it up, then squat one or two more times. Anything to keep legs strong. "Sit/stand" repetitions are good. I stay aware of strengthening abs in all opportunities. Slow deep breaths helps with pain management. I don't use light weights as much as would be good. Most of these things do not do a lot for stamina, but I'll get to that down the road. Bet you do a lot without recognizing how good it is for you, Merry. What do you think? Nancy

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@marvinjsturing

I have to deal with fatigue on a daily basis, too. I've accepted the fact that on most days I have to take a long nap. You do learn to plan for the fatigue. Last summer, my wife and I took an extended camping trip to the west coast (6 weeks). As we made plans, we made sure that our traveling days were not too long. And we usually made sure we stayed at each campground for at least 2 nights. That way, I had time to rest up if I needed it. @1nan , I never thought about mental fatigue before. But now that you mention it, I agree that it is real. Sometimes you need to shut down your mind and just do nothing. A couple of things that keep me going are singing old hymns at the retirement/nursing homes in our area and volunteering at our local hospital. I tell people that I've been a patient in just about every department, so I know my way around. During my chemo, I was there so often I asked if I could just buy a membership.

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@marvinjsturing Glad the mental fatigue idea is helpful, Marvin. The past two years I saw many days with plenty of mental energy, little to no physical energy. I used that opportunity to finish 5 books for my family, self publish for them and not sales and distribution. Accepting that activities take longer because of breaks and shorter "work" periods makes it all good. At 78, not a darn thing wrong with slowing down after a lifetime being an energizer bunny! 😝 You seem to have a handle on taking care of yourself while still giving to others. And your sense of humor shines through! Are you still feeling fulfilled? What works best for you? Nancy

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@1nan

@marvinjsturing Glad the mental fatigue idea is helpful, Marvin. The past two years I saw many days with plenty of mental energy, little to no physical energy. I used that opportunity to finish 5 books for my family, self publish for them and not sales and distribution. Accepting that activities take longer because of breaks and shorter "work" periods makes it all good. At 78, not a darn thing wrong with slowing down after a lifetime being an energizer bunny! 😝 You seem to have a handle on taking care of yourself while still giving to others. And your sense of humor shines through! Are you still feeling fulfilled? What works best for you? Nancy

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@1nan I'm a 5 year survivor of pancreatic cancer so every day of life is a miracle and a gift. My wife and I go out camping as often as possible. We also love going to visit the grandkids. Last week we camped just a few blocks from the grandkids. They came out to the campground several times. It was great…well, except for the tornadoes on Tuesday night and the thunderstorms on Wednesday night. Oh, and at 3:30 AM on Friday when the ranger came and said we had to leave because the campground was flooding. Other than that we had a great time!

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@marvinjsturing You are truly blessed with that cancer history. Stay well! And keep that sense of humor.
We did a lot of RV travel, once were told the tsunami watning signs at the campground were serious. They told us if we heard the sirens we had 10 minutes to unhook and get to the cemetery up above. :0) Managed to sleep well anyway!
Nancy

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@1nan

@merpreb Sometimes I make it up as I go along. But main restrictions have to do with weight lifting limits, and to not "twist" when bending. I also say "no" to offers of help when it refers to something I can do myself. ( Do you hear that child saying she can do it herself? 😁) When I drop something, I squat to pick it up, then squat one or two more times. Anything to keep legs strong. "Sit/stand" repetitions are good. I stay aware of strengthening abs in all opportunities. Slow deep breaths helps with pain management. I don't use light weights as much as would be good. Most of these things do not do a lot for stamina, but I'll get to that down the road. Bet you do a lot without recognizing how good it is for you, Merry. What do you think? Nancy

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@1nan – Believe it or not I have no pain so far with multifocal adenocarcinoma of the lungs. My pain is more emotional so being able to write and mentor for Connect helps me immensely. I also write a blog. Relieving stress is a benefit because stress is a big cause of loss of energy and stamina. I also need to increase my stamina and you are right, lifting weights are not enough, but are necessary for stronger muscles and bones. To increase stamina at home would need a more intense exercises. Increase speed, eliminate times in between sets. I walk up and down the steps in my house more often and I'm about to start riding my bike again now that the humidity is gone, or almost gone. Walking, biking, swimming or anything that will make your heart beat faster.
If you're out of shape and need a quick way to increase your stamina, make these five exercises part of your regular fitness schedule.

Stair climbing. Stair climbing can really help with your stamina. …
High-intensity interval training. HIIT workouts are really tough. …
Lifting. …
Cycling. …
Swimming.
Of course anyone who wants to do these and has limitations should make sure that they can do these without injuring themselves. There are tons of videos on you tube and a doctor's ok would be good, or a trainer.
Everything needs to be eased into, don't you agree? Does anyone have other suggestions?

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@merpreb

@1nan – Believe it or not I have no pain so far with multifocal adenocarcinoma of the lungs. My pain is more emotional so being able to write and mentor for Connect helps me immensely. I also write a blog. Relieving stress is a benefit because stress is a big cause of loss of energy and stamina. I also need to increase my stamina and you are right, lifting weights are not enough, but are necessary for stronger muscles and bones. To increase stamina at home would need a more intense exercises. Increase speed, eliminate times in between sets. I walk up and down the steps in my house more often and I'm about to start riding my bike again now that the humidity is gone, or almost gone. Walking, biking, swimming or anything that will make your heart beat faster.
If you're out of shape and need a quick way to increase your stamina, make these five exercises part of your regular fitness schedule.

Stair climbing. Stair climbing can really help with your stamina. …
High-intensity interval training. HIIT workouts are really tough. …
Lifting. …
Cycling. …
Swimming.
Of course anyone who wants to do these and has limitations should make sure that they can do these without injuring themselves. There are tons of videos on you tube and a doctor's ok would be good, or a trainer.
Everything needs to be eased into, don't you agree? Does anyone have other suggestions?

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In June 2016 I was still working out at a gym. 1-1/2 hours 3 days a week, had been on trainer designed progressive program for months, then Neuro Surgeon said no more gym, and proceeded to add to his list. Even put pulling weeds on the list! (Yes, a favorite.) Thats when I started making my can do list, on my way home. At this point, bone condition is so poor, even on all bone strengthening drugs and IVs, that last neck fusion has pulled loose, spine shifted causing additional damage. Collapsed lumbar spine with crushed nerves is off the table.Thursday I have appointment to see what options are possible. He was named best on the east coast, with zero infection rate, so no need to go elsewhere. Have never felt fear since 2004 myeloma diagnosis, no need to start now. Just remind myself that God's got this and it doesn't get better than that! Great to have no anxiety, no depression. Body has stress but my mind doesn't. Some might call that denial, I know it is faith. Though I can't use your suggestions for now, you have probably helped many others with your wonderful post. Meanwhile, I am following weather predictions to decide which of 2 dresses to wear to outdoor wedding Saturday. Hey, it's a big decision, right? 😀
Thanks again. Nancy

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