Chemo is one thing, fatigue another

The hard-to-explain problem with cancer treatment recovery is the fatigue which follows in almost every single case. Chemotherapy can be partially explained because of the immediate symptoms and the toxicity that permeates your body.

But the fatigue that follows for weeks and months, depending on the intensity of treatment, can be very hard to explain.

I am 27 days past the reintroduction of my white blood cells and 28 days past my last day of chemo. I returned home just over a week ago and last saw the doctor on Thursday.

My doctor’s visit couldn’t have gone much better, frankly. My white cells are up in the mid-7000 range, platelets were over 100,000 and all the chemistry showed my organs were handling the whole assault just fine. I am taking two antibiotics at the moment and will be taking those for some time.

The challenge now is the nasty fatigue of chemo. In 2015 when I had six treatments spread out by 2-3 weeks at time, I had something of a constant fatigue. It just never went away. And the biggest lesson I learned from that experience  is I didn’t try fighting my way out of that as hard as I should have done.

My chemo for the stem cell transplant was nine treatments in six days. My oncologist called it “much more intense” than what I had in 2015. The week of chemo wasn’t too bad until the end – then it was pretty awful.

But the fatigue from the completion of the process is quite different than the constant drag of two years ago. If I get up from writing this post and do something active – a walk or housework – I’ll be quite tired and probably need a nap. If I sit here and visit with a friend or just move around a bit then I feel just fine.

I drove to Indianapolis and back to see Doc Thursday. I also did lunch. I was blown up with fatigue rest of the day. Yesterday I walked to the local farmer’s market, did a few errands in the car, and walked my doggie in the afternoon. I grilled a nice piece of beef fillet last night and it was delicious. I felt pretty good all day – probably my best day to date.

The doctors have told me I can count on 4-6 weeks before I feel ‘normal.’ That would mean I should start feeling better in early to mid June. Yesterday was great encouragement.

I am challenging myself to do much better. I hope to get on a bike in a couple weeks. Right now I wouldn’t trust my balance (as silly as that may sound). I have found that if I pick up heavy items or bend over to clean a spill in the kitchen, I’m a bit dizzy. (Hold the jokes!)

I lost 18 pounds in a two-week period at the height of my treatment. As of Thursday I was down 22 pounds. It’s not a weight loss program I recommend to anyone! But the last two years of treatment, I had gained a lot of weight. I hope my efforts in attacking recovery and lessening fatigue will have a bonus effect on my health by additional weight loss.

But an equally, or bigger challenge, is to eat better and avoid sugars. Sugar is fuel for cancer. I am trying hard, and successful so far, to eat less meat and more vegetables. And I know, I mentioned steak above. I don’t intend on going vegetarian but I intend on eating smarter. Less crap, more healthy choices is the goal.

So I plod on. I will continue to update this because of the handful of cancer patients that I know read it. I certainly appreciate the friends and family who have read it as well to keep up on how I’m doing.



Taken fresh this morning. 5/14

A big thanks today for all those folks I know and don’t know, who had me on prayer lists and included me in their prayers in recent weeks. Those friends should never underestimate the impact that has in a positive attitude while facing these challenges.


And a random …. my damn hair just keeps disappearing.

About Howard

After most of my career in the newspaper business I joined higher education, working in Public Affairs. I write mostly about value wine. I have now taken early retirement and work part-time in a small boutique, retail wine shop in Indianapolis
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1 Response to Chemo is one thing, fatigue another

  1. Craig Barnes says:


    I’m happy for you that you’re progressing and all the chemistry is good. Been thinking about you and praying for you healing and recovery. Glad that you determined to stay as active as your body will allow.



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