Day 21: Fatigue

Fatigue can be one of the signs of colorectal cancer. I was exhausted before I was diagnosed, but who wouldn’t be with three children under the age of six! If you know our youngest, you might just be exhausted by association.

Going through treatment, my oncology and surgical teams constantly asked me about fatigue. For the most part, I would say I had good days and bad days. I pushed through the fatigue until I was flat-on-my-face exhausted.  Fatigue hit the hardest after I had completed my treatments. Twice waiting in the allergist’s office for my daughter, I was mortified when I realized that the shaking I felt was my then 2nd grader pulling on my arm because I had fallen asleep sitting in the waiting room chair. I fell asleep waiting for my daughter’s gymnastics class to be over and in the car waiting for piano lessons to end. It seemed anytime I had to wait or sit still for more than 10 minutes, I was in danger of falling asleep!

When I brought this to the attention of my doctor’s, it was explained that while I thought I felt good, my body was working hard to repair itself on the inside and that was taking a lot of my energy. I also learned that chronic pain increases fatigue. After treatment I had chronic pain in my rear end, lower back, hip joints and pelvic floor. The more painful the day – the more tired I became. No one thinks about this stuff in their early 30’s!

Atrophy also causes fatigue. I was pretty much a morsel of the person I was prior to treatment. Trying to keep up with my life prior to a cancer diagnosis with the muscle mass of an elderly person was exhausting!

Anyone who has dealt with a chronic condition probably understands fatigue. I had no idea what true fatigue was and really probably denied that I was even experiencing fatigue until I started to find myself falling asleep in public! Fatigue is not just being tired or needing some rest. Fatigue is waking up tired and just hoping to make it through the day. Fatigue is looking forward to going to bed, but it’s only mid afternoon.

Public Service Announcement: Fatigue is not normal. Talk to your doctor.ColonCancerInfographic


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