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Fatigue or Flu-Like Symptoms and Cancer Treatment

Fatigue may be related to the type of cancer, the treatment type, poor appetite, lack of exercise, or drugs to stop nausea, anxiety or depression. These feelings of fatigue are different than normal feelings of being tired: they are not always relieved by rest, and they may remain for some time after the cancer treatment ends.

Managing Fatigue and Flu-Like Symptoms

  • Try to schedule appointments and fun activities for times when you have the most energy. Using a journal to track changes in your energy levels during and after treatments will help you predict when you feel most tired and when you have more energy.
  • Make a list of what you want to do in a day. Put the things that mean the most to you at the top of the list.
  • If you don’t have the energy to see friends and family in person, keep in touch with them by telephone or e-mail.
  • Limit the number of visitors you see, and ask them to call before they visit.
  • Exercise if you can. Being active will relax you and may boost your appetite. Even gentle exercise, such as walking, can help. Ask your healthcare team about what exercises are best for you.
  • A balanced diet that includes protein, carbohydrates and fat will help boost your energy.
  • Eat when you have the most energy.
  • Try to eat small amounts of healthy food throughout the day, even if you don’t feel hungry.
  • Schedule a rest period before an important activity.
  • Too much rest, as well as too little, can make you feel more tired.
  • Keep a regular sleep routine. Make your daytime naps short and save your longest sleep for the night.
  • Make sure your bed, pillows and sheets are comfortable.
  • If you keep working during your treatment program, ask about getting reduced hours or a flexible work schedule.

When to call your healthcare team:

If you feel very fatigued, depressed or sleepy, or if you have trouble doing everyday things like bathing or cooking, call your healthcare team. You may need a blood test to see if you have developed anemia.