Lack of Energy

Cancer Treatment and Fatigue

When you are being treated for cancer with chemotherapy or radiotherapy, fatigue can become a life-disrupting problem. Fatigue may be experienced as tiredness, weakness, lack of energy, or sheer exhaustion. Learning to recognize and respect your limits often means making adjustments in exercise, work, sleep, eating, and social schedules. Getting extra rest is important and so is eating plenty of nutritious food, because inadequate intake of calories and other nutrients can compound fatigue. Adjusting eating schedules and food choices can help.

General Suggestions

  • Eat as much as possible at your best time of day. If fatigue worsens later in the day, eat a larger breakfast or lunch.
  • You may feel more like eating after you have napped or rested.
  • Eat many small meals and snacks throughout the day.
  • Avoid skipping meals and snacks. Choose liquid nutritional supplements to replace a meal or snack if easy-to-prepare food is unavailable.
  • At times when you have more energy, prepare foods in quantity. Refrigerate or freeze them for eating later.
  • Keep leftovers on single-serving containers so they can be easily warmed in the microwave.
  • Use frozen or canned convenience foods that require little preparation.
  • Purchase supermarket deli foods and carryout food from restaurants.
  • Accept the offers of family and friends to help out.
  • Check on availability of "Meals on Wheels" in your community.
  • Check on the availability of a "Take Out Taxi" service in your area. These services will pick up foods from participating restaurants and deliver them to your door.

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