Cancer Fatigue and Low Energy when going through treatment for cancer
Cancer Fatigue is a recognised symptom of some cancers as well as a side-effect of treatment for cancer1. Cancer treatment attacks many ‘normal’ cells as well as the rouge cells. The biological burden of replacing the damaged cells can take it’s toll2. Add some of the other side-effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, nausea, vomiting, anaemia pain, lack of sleep, medical menopause, stress, anxiety and low mood2 and no wonder you are exhausted.
You are not alone Cancer Tiredness is reported by 25-99% of cancer patients3 and can be a result of the following treatments3
- targeted cancer drugs
- hormone therapies
The good news is that 70% of those experiencing cancer fatigue and low energy recover previous energy levels when treatment is over3.
Some of the symptoms of cancer fatigue may be concerning to a medical team, you should discuss the specifics of your exhaustion with them. If you have done so and they have offered no further investigation or treatment, read on.
Clearly, we are up against it when dealing with low energy as one goes through treatment. We are fighting the might of pharmaceutical side-effects and the devastation of a diagnosis.
The best advice I have ever heard is from patients themselves, in recognising that their energy is limited. I love the 5 spoonful’s of sugar analogy. I have found it so helpful in my life, it makes perfect sense to me.
Visualise your energy for the day as 5 spoonful’s of sugar. You only have 5 spoonful’s and you can use them however you wish, but you only have 5. You can use 2 on the school run and one brushing your hair, but you only have 5. When they are used, you have exhausted your supply of sugar.
I cannot promise to give you more sugar but I have formulated some products with the aim of putting a spring in your step and to help with some of the (non-medical) factors affecting energy levels.
The Well Being Beauty Spring Sunshine Collection
The Well Being Beauty Spring Sunshine Collection was formulated one dark, miserable, cold winter with the hope of getting spring brightness into a bottle. My wish is that the Lemon and Lavender Essential Oils encourage positivity and lightness of mood. The formulation was first used in candles which were exclusively for our spa clients. Don’t tell them I said so, but they are hard to impress, all loved the bright, natural fragrance, so we had to bring it to you too.
I formulated some Well Being Beauty Collections using essential oils known to be beneficial against many of the concerns causing poor sleep. You can read more about The Well Being Beauty Collections. There follows some edited highlights.
I am a biologist and a lawyer (as well as product creator). It is important to me to be transparent about the sources of my information – the references are available on request to help you to decide if these products can help.
There are nine therapeutic Well Being Beauty Collections, each was formulated to address a concern, these are the Collections relevant to improving sleep. The jewel in the crown of the Well Being Collections formulated to improve sleep is the Sleep Ritual Collection. These luxurious products are formulated using Ylang Ylang, Frankincense and Mandarin.
The Calming Collection uses lime and bergamot to encourage tranquillity
Patchouli and Ylang Ylang in the The Confidence Collection aim to help you to embrace self-confidence.
The Holistic Wellness products encourage emotional balance, bringing together Lime and Black Pepper
Peace is promoted by Mandarin and Frankincense in the Serenity Collection.
Each collection contains
- A Moisturising Shea Mousse
- A Bath Oil
- A Body Oil
- A Diffuser
- A Foot Soak
The Well Being Beauty Foot Soaks
The Well Being Beauty Foot Soaks contain Epsom Salts and a therapeutic essential oil blend.
Magnesium Sulphate, Epsom Salt, is absorbed through the skin. Magnesium is a mineral associated with
- a reduction in swelling
- pain relief
- muscle relaxation
- improved circulation
- tendon relaxation
The Jennifer Young Well Being Essential Oil Blends contains essential oils chosen for their therapeutic benefits with regard to some of the underlying causes as well as their ability to induce sleep.
Frankincense, and, Mandarin are known to have therapeutic properties for many of the challenges faced by cancer patients. For example, lowering stress levels, promoting better sleep, reducing hot flushes.
One study found a significant difference in the reduction of blood pressure (home and walking) and improvement of sleep quality between two groups. One group were massaged with oils prescribed by an aroma therapist, the other was massaged with oil containing artificial fragrance. The group exposed to essential oils had reduced blood pressure and improved sleep.
Sleep Hygiene is a way of describing routine, many of us parents know of the importance of a bedtime routine for our babies but we forget about ourselves.
I suggest you
- Choose a bedtime and stick to it
- set an alarm
- Keep away from the TV/phone/screens for an hour before bed
- If you can enjoy a bath before bed, please do (I put Magnesium salts in mine)
- Read before turning the light out
- Don’t go to sleep after a heavy meal but please don’t go to bed hungry
- Avoid alcohol
- Practice breathing if you awake in the night
Our section on Sleep Hygiene and breathing techniques to aid relaxation might help too.
Cancer Research UK and Macmillan give the following tips for managing tiredness4,5
- Spread housekeeping tasks over the week and ask for help if you can
- Do some gentle exercise each day, this can give you more energy
- Get support from other people, knowing others are there to help can be a real energy booster (note from JY – ask for help, and accept it when offered, people want to help but they won’t know what to do, allowing them to do some daily tasks for you, like the school pickup or delivering a lasagne will help you both out)
- Do grocery shopping online or ask someone to help you
- Set realistic goals for every day (note from JY – remember that sugar)
- Prioritise and pace your activities and ask family or friends to do less important ones (note from JY – remember that sugar)
- Daytime naps can help you to recover, but limit these to less than an hour
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help you to learn ways of managing your tiredness
- If you can, have a bath or sit in the shower
- Yoga and mindfulness based techniques can help you to feel less tired (note from JY - have a look at our sleep page)
- Eat a well-balanced diet to try to keep your energy levels up, try simple or ready-made meals when you are most tired (note from JY – there are some great providers of ready-made meals that are healthy and appetising – have a google, or ask us who provides meals for the freezer at JYHQ)
- Learn to manage tiredness, get help with shopping and housework and don’t try to do it all yourself
- Take care looking after children