Managing fatigue

Managing fatigue

Fatigue is the most common side effect of cancer treatment. For some people, it’s also the most frustrating. This video explains what it is and suggests ways to manage it.
Managing fatigue

Managing Fatigue

Voice-over: Some people who have cancer feel tired all the time or they tire more easily when doing normal, daily activities. I know, because I’ve been there.  

This is known as cancer fatigue, and it’s the most common side effect of cancer treatment. Everyone’s experience is different, but for me it was the most frustrating side effect of all.  

Cancer fatigue is different from the tiredness that you may have felt before cancer. At times, I spent all day in bed and it didn’t make me feel rested. Cancer fatigue can come on suddenly, and it can come and go. It usually gets better after treatment is finished, but I felt some fatigue, on and off, for many months. For some people with cancer, fatigue affects all areas of their life, including their mental and physical health, relationships and work.  

Fatigue isn’t something that you have to suffer through when you have cancer. If you have fatigue, tell someone on your healthcare team. My doctor asked me questions about my fatigue and tried to find out what was causing it. She explained that many things can cause cancer fatigue, including the cancer itself, treatments or certain medicines, your emotions and stress, pain, poor nutrition, and other side effects.

Once my doctor knew more about my fatigue, she changed some things with my treatment and suggested other things I could do to feel better. I was surprised to learn that being more physically active actually gave me more energy.  

When I did have energy, I focused on doing only what was important to me. Other things that helped me were learning to meditate and talking to a counsellor about how to cope with my stress and emotions.  

There’s no quick fix for cancer fatigue or the frustration that comes with it. If cancer fatigue is a problem for you, talking to your doctor is the first step in managing it.  

The Canadian Cancer Society can also help you. Visit or call 1-888-939-3333.