Depending on your diagnosis, your doctor may recommend one of a number of different mesothelioma treatment options. Like other malignant diseases, mesothelioma can be tackled with the help of chemotherapy, radiation or surgery. While none of these is really a cure, they can manage the symptoms of the disease and may even extend survival time.
Of course, the downside to any cancer therapy is the potential for side effects. Among the most common is fatigue. This is not just a matter of not feeling up to household chores. The fatigue associated with mesothelioma treatment can interfere with several aspects of life, including your emotional and mental well-being.
At Mesothelioma Circle, we want to make sure you understand what it means to have fatigue, and what you can do to cope with hit.
What causes fatigue in mesothelioma patients?
There are several potential causes of fatigue among mesothelioma patients, including breathing difficulties, infections, pain, changes in eating habits, dehydration from vomiting or diarrhea, depression or inactivity. One or all of these may contribute to feelings of low energy.
Government experts say that fatigue is the most common side effect of cancer treatment, stemming from several modes of therapy. Mesothelioma patients on chemotherapy are likely to be given a regimen of pemetrexed, which can cause tiredness, weakness or other symptoms related to fatigue. The dips in energy that come from chemotherapy are often at their worst midway through a cycle of treatment and can get progressively worse with each cycle.
If chemotherapy causes a loss in appetite or dehydration, your energy levels may take a hit.
Radiation may also cause fatigue. Symptoms usually get worse until the mid-point of treatment, then hold steady until the regimen is completed. Surgical patients can also experience fatigue, but this should get better over time.
The stress of living with cancer is taxing, as well. Between 15 an 20 percent of patients become depressed, which can aggravate fatigue.
Ordinarily, rest would be a good thing for cancer patients. But fatigue goes beyond requiring the average amount of rest and can interfere with your ability to engage in everyday leisure activities, maintain social connections or work – all of which can wear down on your quality of life.
Don’t take fatigue lying down
Just because fatigue is common among mesothelioma patients doesn’t mean that you have to accept it as par for the course. Doctors from the Mayo Clinic encourage all cancer patients to discuss any concerns that they have about fatigue with their clinicians, who may be able to determine what is causing symptoms and how to address them.
It helps to be as informative as you can. Tell your doctor about when your fatigue started, how severe it is, how you are sleeping and eating, how you feel emotionally and if anything makes it feel better or worse. From there, your doctor may recommend a number of potential treatments. These include talk therapy, antidepressants or medications to stimulate the production of red blood cells in cases when anemia may be a problem.
Additionally, there are other things that you can do on your own:
- If necessary, take several naps – an hour each at the most – throughout the day.
- Save your energy for activities that matter the most. It may be helpful to keep track of what time of day you feel the most energetic, and when you need rest.
- Eat healthy food and stay hydrated. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
- Try to squeeze in 15 to 30 minutes of light exercise per day. Your doctor can help you determine what is appropriate.