Fatigue a year after chemo

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Hello

My husband who is 69 had surgery on a stage 2 Oligodendroglioma in Dec 2021 followed by radiotherapy and chemo when it started to grow again which finished in May 23. Before the chemo he was tired easily but could still do things for himself. He had to stop the chemo early as it was affecting his mobility and he felt really ill. Since then he hasn’t really improved at all. I have to do everything for him as he is so tired and unsteady on his feet. The OT has supplied him with aids and I have also bought things to help. We have a wheelchair for trips out. He has been signed off from the physio as he could do the exercises so it is down to us to do them at home, but I know he isn’t doing enough to make him improve his stamina and I don’t like pushing him when I know how rotten he feels. We try to have little walks with his rollator but 100 yds is enough.

We have been for his latest MRI results which are good as the tumour hasn’t grown but we can’t make the most of it and do things as he doesn’t feel up to it. The consultant could only suggest exercise to help build him up. She said brain tumours do make you feel more tired than other tumours. He would sleep all day if I let him

I know it’s partly down to the tumour, but considering he didn’t feel too bad before the chemo should he be able to recover from the chemo tiredness or could it stay forever whether or not he exercises. I feel so sorry for him as there is so much he wants to do but isn’t up to it.

  • Dear  

    Thanks for getting in touch and welcome to our Online Community ,my name’s Sue, and I’m one of the cancer information nurse specialists on the Macmillan Support Line.

    We hope you find this a safe and supportive space, having the support of other people going through a similar experience to ourselves can be really valuable and helpful.

    This sounds like such a difficult time, I’m sorry to hear your husband continues to struggle with fatigue and things haven’t improved since his chemotherapy finished a year ago.

    Fatigue is a very common problem for people with cancer and can have such a detrimental effect on quality of life. It can happen for a number of reasons including the cancer itself and side effects of treatment. Many people with a brain tumour are unfortunately affected by this.

    Although side effects of treatment for an oligodendroglioma can cause short term side effects which gradually improve once treatment finishes, sometimes these don’t get better and are called long term side effects. One of the late side effects of chemotherapy is tiredness (fatigue)  which can last for more than a year after treatment finishes.

    The emotional impact of having a brain tumour can also affect mental health which can cause low mood or for someone to feel depressed, some of the symptoms can include fatigue and sleep changes.

    As your husband’s consultant suggested, exercise is a really good way to manage fatigue and can also help someone feel better. It’s important though, not to do overdo things but even doing something small, such as a little walk, can make a difference.

    We would encourage to continue to discuss your concerns with your husband’s consultant or clinical nurse specialist as they are best placed to be able to support him and continue to assess what is happening.

    You’ve mentioned doing everything at home to help support your husband, it may also be helpful to speak to his GP about any further equipment or extra help, which can be put in place at home, to help make things easier.

    Supporting a loved one with cancer can be very rewarding but also challenging, so it’s really important to also look after yourself. The charity Brain Tumour Support also offer further ways to help support caregivers.

    I hope this information is helpful and please don’t hesitate to get back in touch as needed.

     Sending best wishes

    Sue Cancer Information Nurse Specialist

    You can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or send us an email.

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    Sue Cancer Information Nurse Specialist