Physical, emotional and cognitive fatigue is very common during and after cancer treatment. Research suggests that this can have a severe impact on the patient’s quality of life and can persist for months after the cessation of treatment.

There are a number of factors that can affect the severity of fatigue experienced by a patient.  These include:

  • Lack of social support
  • Pre-existing mental and physical illness
  • Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormonal treatment
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Lack of sleep
  • Hot flushes

What can help alleviate the fatigue after cancer treatment?

  • Exercise programs
  • Relaxation exercises, yoga, pilates (ideally these sessions are delivered by a professional trained to work with cancer survivors)
  • Taking treatment that controls your pain if this is a problem
  • Changing diet and drinking more fluids
  • Take shorts breaks and naps in-between activities
  • Let others know how they can help you.
  • Be active at the time of day you feel more active and energetic
  • Focus on what is important and do not waste any energy ruminating on what is not.

Some individuals may feel frustrated when fatigue gets in the way of their normal routine and lasts longer than they think it should. We need to be patient with ourselves and do positive changes that can help us get better.

Anna Catania is a counsellor with Willingness. She has had a special interest in working with clients facing intimacy and sexual difficulties and runs a service for families going through cancer and chronic illness. She can be contacted on