A woman hunches over as dark waves wash over her.

Cancer Fatigue

Cancer is exhausting.

Physical fatigue

I’ve noticed that a small amount of physical fatigue has persisted. It's nowhere near the "fall asleep while standing" fatigue I was feeling post-surgery and when I was severely anemic, but I have discovered that I do tire sooner than I did before. If I have a string of incredibly busy days, I will hit a wall that pretty much requires I take a day of downtime to recover. When I work out, I can’t go quite as long or as intense as I once did. Just in general, I can tell my physical abilities have come just enough to be noticeable and annoying. Naps are now a permanent part of my weekend routine.

Financial fatigue

The financial toll of living with cancer has been overwhelming and never-ending. As I pay one bill, I’m immediately getting another. I’m always paying for something. I’ve needed to adjust our household budget to accommodate expected expenses and create savings for the unexpected. I had to drain one of my retirement accounts (at 28 years old) to pay for my first year of medical bills. My husband and I forgo trips and date nights because I need to pay for CT scans and doctor visits. We not only make these concessions now, but we know these are difficult choices we need to make for the foreseeable future.

Mental fatigue

Living with cancer is mentally draining. I’ve had to deal with this devastating diagnosis and all the life changes it means. On top of this, I am stage IV, and I live every day with the possibility that my cancer is going to take off and kill me. I work diligently to keep track of appointments, treatment schedules, medication refills, bill payments, supply orders, along with my work schedule and personal life. My brain is at capacity constantly. I relish brief moments when I don’t have to think of my cancer.

It never ends

The most exhausting part of cancer is just knowing that this never ends. I will be in treatment for the rest of my life. I will worry about my cancer for the rest of my life. The physical, financial, and mental fatigue is just part of my daily life now. There is no vacation from this, there is no going back to “normal”. This is my normal now. This pandemic has actually been the best analogy for what life is like for a cancer patient. Your entire life is now impacted by a scary disease. The only difference is that most people are already back to their normal lives or will be soon. This disease will soon be just a scary memory for most. For me, this is forever.

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