- Question from Kathy: I am still plagued by fatigue, even after 1 year out from chemotherapy and radiation. Many times I am so tired, I feel ill. I get regular checkups with my oncologist, with blood tested every 3 months. All is within the "normal limits." Should I have my thyroid levels tested, or am I just one of the unlucky ones that will have continued fatigue for an unknown time?
It is not unusual for some persons after combined therapies for cancer to experience fatigue for longer than a year. And it's sometimes a year and a half before you get back to your normal energy levels. Your energy levels may be influenced by whether you are continuing to be a couch potato or whether you have begun to do some physical activity like walking every day. You can become unconditioned if you haven't resumed some daily physical activity.
Related to your question about should your thyroid be checked, there are some cases where women who have had breast cancer have had some thyroid problems, so that's a very reasonable question to ask your physician.
If you haven't begun any physical activity you should start slowly, according to what you can do. You can do 10 minutes. If you have a pedometer, the goal with a pedometer is 10,000 steps a day. So, with a pedometer you just start with the number of steps you walk each day and increase it by 50 to 100 steps each day as long as you can tolerate it, until you can reach a higher goal.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Managing Fatigue During and After Treatment featured Diana Dyer, M.S., R.D., Tish Knobf, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., A.O.C.N., and Lillie Shockney, R.N., B.S., M.A.S. answering your questions about ways to keep up your energy, how nutrition can affect fatigue, and how exercising can help.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in January 2008.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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