Cancer Survivors often feel helpless when faced with fatigue after cancer. You make the decision to undergo aggressive treatment to cure your cancer, which for many is an easy decision to make. After all, it’s the path with the best chance of giving you more time with your family, more time on this sweet earth, more time to finish what you are meant to do.
Ideally, people with cancer are educated about the potential side effects of treatment before they begin therapy, some of which are potentially permanent. But until you’ve gone through it, until you really know what it feels like to have unrelenting fatigue, it’s hard to fathom.
So you end up on the other side, alive and battered, and you start to recover and expect to feel like your old self. Some people do return to their former energy levels, but others do not.
Up to 30% of cancer survivors have persistent fatigue for years after their diagnosis.
5 Reasons Cancer Survivors Feel Helpless Against Fatigue
I’ve spoken to many cancer survivors about fatigue and hear the sames themes over and over - there are circumstances many cancer survivors are faced with after treatment, some actual, physical circumstances, others emotional or existential circumstances, which contribute to a feeling of helplessness in the setting of fatigue. See if you recognize yourself in any of the circumstances listed below.
1. You feel out of control.
This cancer roller coaster has been totally unpredictable. It's hard to feel like you can take charge of anything in your life after all you’ve been through. You're overwhelmed by change and just want to get back to normal. You’re thinking, “I just want my life and old energy back!” But is that even possible anymore?
Your previous, peaceful life and your place in it is hardly recognizable and this makes you feel, well, helpless.
2. You don't feel supported.
Your family and friends are happy you're done with treatment and think you can move on and pick right up where you left off before your life-altering diagnosis. They have no idea how exhausted you are and frankly, they don't really seem to care. Little do they know, things will never be the same for you. They seem to want you to start doing things for them, prioritizing them and not yourself, as you’ve always done.
Your friends and loved ones don’t understand what you’ve gone through and how it’s changed your perspective and energy level, maybe forever. You don’t feel like there’s anyone to talk to and you suffer with your fatigue, pretty much alone.
Who can you trust with this problem? Who will believe you?
3. You don't know where to start.
Your doctor says he can’t do anything specifically to treat your cancer related fatigue, but it will help if you "eat right and exercise."
And you're thinking, "What on earth does that mean, exactly?"
Your doctors, friends, and family tell you what they think you should do - but not HOW to do it. How can you embark on a program of healthy eating, exercise, self care, and mental health when you don't even know which direction to turn or how to take the first step?
4. You're unclear about your goals.
You just want to be back to normal, but what is normal anymore? And if you don't know what normal is, how do you know where you're supposed to go from here?
What should you expect from yourself now that you’ve been through treatment and come out the other side feeling totally spent? How do you re-frame expectations for yourself as a cancer survivor? What are you aiming for now? What is the end game?
5. You're too tired to do anything.
You might be thinking: "If I'm too tired to lift the remote control, how can I possibly do everything I must to fight fatigue and optimize my well being and health?"
You keep thinking maybe tomorrow you’ll feel less tired, be able to think straight, be able to imagine doing something that takes energy, but tomorrow comes and all you can think about is how exhausted you are. How will you ever function normally again and get past this curtain of fatigue?
By the way, you’re not crazy.
I imagine you can relate to at least some of the reasons for feeling helpless if you’re a cancer survivor with persistent fatigue. I just want you to know - I believe you. People in your life may not get it, but you’re not making this up. It’s happening to you. It’s real. And I know how the thought this might never get better scares you and makes you feel like an imposter in your own life.
I wrote this post to acknowledge your problem. I hope this makes you feel supported or validated. And that you belong here at Brio.
In the coming months, I’ll be unveiling my survivorship wellness program to address every single one of the reasons cancer survivors feel helpless against fatigue. It’s going to be great. We’ll fix this together.
In the meantime, I’m offering a free download you should really check out - Brio’s FREE Morning Checklist. This checklist gives you 7 easy, evidence-based ideas to give you more energy in your day. It includes specific instructions for integrating the steps into your daily routine AND assessing the results of your efforts. Download Brio’s FREE Morning Checklist by clicking the button below.
Take care, Survivor.