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Tired of Being Tired?

Fatigue is rarely an isolated symptom and is perceived by cancer patients to be one of the most distressing symptoms of cancer treatment. You might be physically tired, emotionally tired, cognitively tired or all three. This exhaustion is not proportional to recent activity and interferes with usual functioning.

At 84, Emanuel Tanay is far too busy to be tired. His diagnosis of metastatic prostate cancer 7 years ago has by no means stopped him from doing what he enjoys, but symptoms and side effects from his cancer and treatment have slowed him down.

“My resilience is very low,” says Tanay. “In other words, it takes very little for me to get exhausted.”

Tanay has used strategies like medication, physical therapy and exercise to combat his fatigue. Here are other general strategies to manage fatigue:

  • Self-monitor your energy level
  • Limit naps so you can sleep at night
  • Structure routines
  • Use distractions like games, music or reading
  • Set priorities if you can’t do everything
  • Postpone non-essential activities
  • Drink adequate fluids

Contributing factors of fatigue:

  • Medication side effects
  • Emotional distress
  • Anemia
  • Sleep issues
  • Nutrition issues
  • Other medical conditions

The Cancer Center’s Symptom Management and Supportive Care Clinic helps patients manage the physical aspects of fatigue. The PsychOncology Program can help with the significant emotional aspects, such as depression.

Learn everything you wanted to know about fatigue: causes, symptoms, coping and taking action. How do you cope with fatigue? Share your tricks and tips in the comments.