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How long does the fatigue last?

Posts: 53
Joined: Apr 2003

I finished my last round (4 in all) of AC Chemotherapy 3 weeks ago. I'll start Tamoxifen in July. I'm wondering how long it takes before I'll really have all my strength back? I'm still very fatigued. Still dealing with side effects of the chemo (dry eyes, especially). I get worn out so easily, and seem to have no endurance. I'm easily winded with activities that never affected me this way before cancer. My doctors have told me it takes 6 months or more to fully recover from surgery and treatments. I'm just wondering if this is true, and if anyone has any suggestions that might speed up the healing process? I'd like to get my life back to some semblance of normal! At least to get through a day of normal activities without feeling like I just ran my first marathon! Y'know? It's nice to be finished, and to be looking forward to having my hair grow back. But, my husband just assumes that because I'm finished with treatments I should be feeling like myself again...and, well...I just don't. I want to feel great again...but, I'm not there yet. So, any suggestions would be appreciated! Thanks! God bless you all! Stand firm. We'll all get through this, with His grace, and together!

Posts: 29
Joined: Apr 2003

Hi there,
I had 4 rounds each of A/C and Taxol on three week cycles. I finished in September 2002. I was easily fatigued during chemo and for a few months after, but I was participating in strenuous sports (ice hockey), including during the last half of chemo. In terms of day to day activities (including walking and easy biking), I felt pretty normal after about 6-8 wks. In terms of strenuous sports, I felt like my stamina was back to about 90% by about 4.5 months and 100% by 6 months.
I think it helped to push myself some, even though I felt fatigued.

bullfrog13's picture
Posts: 216
Joined: Apr 2002

Dear BBK - there is a great book that I got not long after I was ''all done'' called LIving beyond Breast cancer - what to do when treatment ends and live begins (long title huh) by marisa weiss.. it pretty much sums up how i felt afterwards.. maybe it will help you and your hubby understand.. good luck and God Bless

Posts: 343
Joined: May 2003

Hi BBk,
I am a leukemia survivor. I can tell you that sometimes fatigue lasts a very long time and sometimes it goes away quickly for some. This is not in your head, you definitely have an energy problem. Ask your doctor about taking some nutrition supplements or energy drinks. This is basically for your husband to know because it is important for him to realize some people heal slower than others. It is a real thing.

Posts: 206
Joined: May 2003

Besides everything others have suggested above, have you discussed your red blood cell level and the possible need for a red blood cell resque med such as Epoten(sp)(I am not real sure about that med name, but am sure it starts with an E, real helpful huh!) I suggest this because of your shortness of breath. The fatigue may be normal post chemo but the shortness of breath is not. Your red blood cells carry the oxygen in your blood, if your levels are down due to the chemo this may explain the shortness of breath. Just a thought. Happy Thoughts! Beth

Posts: 53
Joined: Apr 2003

Yes, my red blood counts were at their lowest following this final chemo treatment. The doctor didn't think they were low enough to warrant additional drugs. She's just watching for the counts to come back up. THANKS to all who have responded. I guess I haven't really learned patience...ever, in my life! And, this is one of those times where I need to listen to my body, and be patient... My husband needs patience in allowing me to heal, too! Of course, we're both first-born children, driven people, slightly OCD about life, and perfectionists! Now's a good time to learn to live with a slower-paced, more laid-back lifestyle. Maybe we're due for a bit of a vacation! :) So, I'll try to be more patient! I know that I'm on the upswing now, when so many others are just starting. For those of you in that category ... there IS a light at the end of the tunnel, and you will get through it all! For me, it wasn't nearly as awful as I expected it would be. So, be encouraged! You CAN do it! Thanks! Barb

Posts: 153
Joined: Nov 2002

BBK. Everyone is different so I think maybe I should stop posting stuff like easing up a little when the fatigue comes on (like I have in the past!).

I just wanted to mention that my husband had a lot of ideas about how much energy I should or shouldn't have at the beginning. It took a while for him to get used to the idea that sometimes I could start something and not finish it, no matter how great my intentions. He is 200% supportive and encouraging now. But it took a while for him to understand how recovery works. I thought it was cute that he actually told me that one of the older Russian ladies at work told him to be understanding...and if I felt I had the energy to wash the dishes but wasn't doing such a great job...then he should not say a word and even wash them over if necessary. He has came to agree with that general idea for everything.

It's hard for our husbands to see us bald, tired, and occasionally in pain. I'm sure they are trying to put this whole episode behind them as quickly as possible and that was the reason for impatience. But we have to roll with the punches and make the best decisions we can as issues come up, I think.

Posts: 482
Joined: Apr 2003

My husband begins sentences with "When this is over..." and I've come to realize that what he means to say is when HIS life is returned to the way it was before this started. I was so ecstatic upon completion of the Adriamycin / Cytoxan part of treatment that I thought you'd have to tie a string to my toe to keep me from floating with glee. However, the usual pattern of a stinky first week followed by a fairly normal week and then a very nearly normal week was instead replaced with two solid weeks of serious debilitation. He who is so impatient for life to be normal will not wash a fork or a dish even when all of same have been exhausted. I put a stool next to the sink to help conserve energy by doing dishes while sitting, but cannot even do that yet. So I bought paper plates and plastic forks. I frequently revisit the fact that if my husband were the one receiving the treatments, he'd want to be spoon-fed and pampered 24/7. Take as long as you need to mend. And congratulations on reaching that delightful point when the worst of it is finished! Hugs, Denise

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