Fatigue

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Hello. I am currently 8 months post treatment for cervical cancer, treatment been chemotherapy, radiotherapy and brachytherapy. I am also going through the menopause, started HRT 4 months ago. I have found my energy levels are non existent, I’m sleeping a great deal (12 hours plus more some nights) and there is some days I am unable to get out of my bed at all. I had blood tests taken which came back normal and have been to my GP a few times about the fatigue. The menopause clinic have changed my HRT but as yet it’s not helping with the fatigue. My oncologist has said it could be a combination of intense treatment plus the menopause that’s causing the fatigue. I’m really struggling, I’m finding the fatigue debilitating. I‘m struggling to bring up my family and run the home. Is this normal and is there anything I can do differently to try and help? I’m taking a combination of vitamins and have had an increase in my antidepressants too. Any help or advice would be much appreciated. 

  • Hi Aggie 24.

    Welcome to our online community. Thank you for getting in touch with us.

    I’m sorry to hear that you are struggling with ongoing fatigue. The overwhelming feeling of tiredness and exhaustion that you are experiencing is a common symptom for both people with cancer and for those recovering from treatment.

    Life after cancer can be really challenging when you are still dealing with ongoing symptoms and side effects.

    As many as 9 out of 10 people experience cancer related fatigue. This can be difficult to deal with and have a big impact on your day-to-day life. Menopause can also have a significant impact on your overall wellbeing and worsen the fatigue that you are experiencing.

    There are many reasons why people with cancer experience fatigue. Fatigue can be caused by the cancer itself or by changes to your blood and hormone levels.  Fatigue can also be a long-term effect of some cancer treatments.

    If there are any reversible causes of fatigue such as low blood counts, poor nutrition, pain, or other uncontrolled symptoms, it is important that your healthcare team continue to monitor and assess these.

    When you speak to your GP, it can be helpful to have a record of the impact that fatigue is having on you every day. You can order or download this booklet on coping with fatigue .The booklet includes a fatigue diary where you can track your energy levels and keep a note of your symptoms to help your healthcare team understand the effect fatigue is having on you.

    If you are able to identify some of the triggers which may worsen your symptoms, this can help you to identity ways to help you manage fatigue.

    Restore is an online tool that has been developed by Macmillan and the University of Southampton to help people manage their fatigue by setting small goals for physical activity including gentle exercise, housework, childcare and sleep.

    Penny Brohn offer a range of resources and support when you are Adjusting to life after cancer treatment including Support with nutrition and diet  and Managing menopause with cancer .

    You may also find our Macmillan partnership with Big Health useful. These apps can be used alongside your prescribed medication to support you in managing your sleep and emotional wellbeing.

    I hope this information is useful Aggie24. Please do keep in touch if there is anything else we can help with.

    Ref JH/AM

    Joanne H - Cancer Information Nurse Specialist

    Remember you can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 00 00 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or by email.