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American Family Children's Hospital
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Five Ways to Keep Your Energy Up During Cancer Treatments

Cancer treatments can be very draining, and it is common for patients to report they are more tired than usual. UW Carbone Cancer Center chemotherapy clinic nurse Brenda Popp, RN, offers tips for keeping energy up during chemotherapy, radiation or other cancer treatments.

  1. Eat well. Good nutrition is a great way to keep your energy up because you’re feeding your body and giving it the energy it needs. We have a dietician on staff who can work with you to find foods that are both energy-boosting and palatable to you, and anyone on your care team can schedule time with her.

  2. Keep moving, even if you don’t want to. One thing I stress to patients is, when you go through cancer treatments, you do get tired. Many patients report that they just want to rest. But one of the biggest recommendations we have for patients is to do gentle exercises such as walking or yoga. Gentle exercise can help reduce stress, and it’s an energy boost as well.

  3. Get rest. Yes, we need you moving, but we also need you to listen to your body and get the rest you need. Find the find balance of gentle exercise with plenty of good rest.

  4. Drink plenty of water. If you’re dehydrated, you’re also likely to feel quite fatigued. We recommend water and other non-caffeinated beverages.

  5. Relax, but keep your mind moving, too! You can relax without resting or sleeping by doing hobbies you enjoy. Keeping your mind active is another great way to reduce fatigue.

Finally, Popp stresses, “If you’re feeling excessively fatigued, it could be something medical, such as with your blood counts and your hemoglobin and oxygen levels being low. Your care team always wants to know if you’re having symptoms of fatigue so we can do a more thorough investigation.”