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How long after treatment when energy comes back?

Posts: 117
Joined: Oct 2013

For H&N cancer, how long does it usually take for energy and strength to come back or start to come back?  Is it normal to feel weak and tired still?  Does it mean the cancer is still there or the damages have been done and the body repairing?  One day is good then next day shot to bottom.  So unpredictable.

Please provide with your experiences to soothe my anxiety.





phrannie51's picture
Posts: 4672
Joined: Mar 2012

to fully recover your stamina.  You're going to notice differences within 3 months or so, as your blood builds back up, and your muscle mass returns.  I went back to work 6 weeks after treatment was over (Oct. 2012), but was dragging my butt around until the end of January....by June things were much better.....and by the end of Aug, a year out of treatment, I felt totally normal.  That's not to say there weren't really tired days mixed in, but they were few and far between.

Give yourself time to recover......recovery is very slow, in all aspects.....it comes in months, not weeks and days.


Skiffin16's picture
Posts: 8286
Joined: Sep 2009

It probably takes your body a good year to recover from the damage that treatment has caused, not the cancer...

It took close to a year for my blood work to come back in range. Nearly two years to completely regain all taste, and near all saliva. Even now at nearly five years I tend to get tired more than before, but I'm sure a lot of that is the hit on the thyroid and other residual.

Your body has been through a war... Nearly no calorie intake, little hydration....

Treatment comes close to killing you...

It can be rough until you learn your limitations... I worked from home all during treatment, but I have a cushy computer job... But still managed to do the yard work and fish occasionally.

But toward the end of rads, had to give up the yard work... Not enough energy in the heat of Florida summer, low calorie and hydration intake.

A lot returns once you're eating and drinking regularly''

Take your time, rest when needed, stay hydrated, take in calories, and enjoy life...

The rest will come..


Posts: 1104
Joined: Jan 2011

Sorry, couldn't resist!  First time, finished treatment at the end of September, returned to work in January.  Worked, returned home, ate and slept.  Needed to rest on Saturday just to make it to church on Sunday.  Repeat until June.  Second time was not as rough physically on me.  I knew to keep the protein up and did not get burned as much.  Finished treatment in September, returned to work at the end of November (knowing I would work 3 weeks and be off 2 weeks--to rest).  Last time I had an eye removed and added chemo and a sinus surgery into the mix--RETIRED!  I have had a lot of treatments but this last time I have honestly not felt good until 6 weeks ago, and that is with not doing much. 

It will come back but don't get upset if not back to pre cancer days.

CivilMatt's picture
Posts: 4301
Joined: May 2012


Energy, good question, let me sleep on it and get back to you about it.

It is normal to feel weak, tired, exhausted, pooped, frail, puny, weary, drained, you get it, I got it, we’ve all had it. Remember (like swallowing water) the H&N clock is set to slooooow.

The cancer went to vapor land, you are left alone to pick up the pieces, but life is good, your body, mind and soul are still intact and you will recover nicely.

At 21 months post I fall asleep at the drop of a hat, but I think it is because I stay up too late.  Stamina and energy are always improving, but in my mind I am getting things done.


ratface's picture
Posts: 1319
Joined: Aug 2009

For many of the reasons explained I agree that it took almost one year to get back to somewhat pre-treatment levels and also agree that I can tire quicker now at 4 years post than I ever did.  I'm in good physical shape currently. I  follow an exercise schedule and very healthy diet. Pre-cancer I had terrible eating and lifestyle habits and still had more stamina  than I do now. Again, as John stated it is probably thyroid related with me. 

As an example I had  cut my lawn with a push type power mower, (no drive wheels but with a motor) all my life.  Soon after treatment it was important for me to still do my own chores but I just could not push the mower along without getting exhausted. I subsequently purchased a gear driven mower to cut my grass and remember using it to cut my grass for almost two years before I could go back to the push mower. I would keep asking myself what the hell was wrong with me thinking the cancer had spread to my lungs because I had very little stamina.  It really takes longer than you would think. Give yourself a bit more time, exercise, eat, and sleep right. Watch your thyroid levels and one day it will creep back up on you.     


donfoo's picture
Posts: 1644
Joined: Dec 2012

I've read reports of a few who jump back on bikes or the running trails in a couple months, many as posted here feel good at a year. I'm 100%+ at 6 months post, so everyone is different. The + for me is treatments were a great diet program and I lost all the excess fat that crept on over the years. I feel much better than before. Not often one can talk up being better in some ways after treatment.

Laralyn's picture
Posts: 528
Joined: Apr 2012

There are some studies showing that ginseng can help with cancer fatigue, whether it's during or after treatments. I haven't taken it myself, but the studies were at reputable institutions. Hope this helps!

hwt's picture
Posts: 2330
Joined: Jun 2012

I clearly recall turning the corner 5 weeks post tx and at 6 weeks had more energy than before dx. I attribute that extra energy to a 65 pound weight loss. 

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