When Will My Energy Return after Cancer Treatment?

“When will I get my energy back?” is one of the most asked questions I receive.   If you are in the middle of chemo, you know what little energy you have. Many people tell me they have 10% to 20% of their old energy during Chemo.  That was my experience as well.  No matter how far out you are from Chemo, you NEVER forget those no energy days.   For those of you who have never been through chemotherapy, the best way I can describe the huge energy drain is imagine how you feel after 12 hours in the hot sun at an amusement park as you are walking to your car in the evening – totally drained.   This goes on for an endless amount of time. And no matter how much you sleep, the energy does  not return.

Since you never forget how it feels to have 10% energy, I am certainly more careful how I expend energy now.  No longer do I run to the grocery or dollar store on a whim.  I think about it first to determine if it is a necessity.  During chemo, I had to do without.    Never do I enter a grocery store now without remembering when I did not have enough energy to make it to the back of the grocery store.  I could only buy produce, canned goods, and frozen foods because they were in the front of the store.  If I went to the back of the store, I did not have enough energy to make it out to my car and drive home.

So when will you get your energy back?  My experience is, it depends.  Sometimes women who are in their 70s sometimes gain their energy faster than women in their 30s.  There is no rhyme nor reason.

My pivotal energy-changing moments came at the 13 month post-chemo mark and just recently at the 2 year post-chemo mile marker!    The 2 year post chemo energy boost surprised me!  I wasn’t looking for it or expecting it.  Only when I was out trimming trees at 6 am one morning, able to garden longer than I have in 3 years, and then able to watch my niece’s 4-year-old and 2-year-old did I realize, “WOW, I have more energy!”

Even if you are more than 2 years out from Chemo and feel like you still do not have any energy, one day it may just appear!   Recently, I was talking with Lisa, my neighbor who is a Stage 4 Lymphoma Survivor.  She said it was almost 5 years before her energy returned.  A 25-year-old Ewings Sarcoma Cancer Survivor told me it took her 3 years to start having more energy.

Don’t give up hope for that energy to return.  And always protect what energy you do have as it is such a great gift!  Use it wisely!  And I have found these things have really helped me:

1)  Take a good multiple vitamin.  When I began taking Nature’s Way ALIVE vitamins (I buy mine through Amazon), I had a HUGE increase in energy!  It was amazing to me and that is why I recommend them!

2)  No matter how tired you are, take a walk.  It really helps even though often you don’t feel like you can even start the walk!  If it is difficult for you to walk outside, I recommend Leslie Sansone’s DVDs where you walk inside your home!

3)  Try to go to bed early to just rest, not necessarily sleep.  I’m not a napper.  I only took two naps during chemo and radiation!  But I did go into bed early and read or watched television.  Being in the prone position helped me gain energy!

Be sure to check out my online store at http://www.hellocourage.com

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6 comments

  1. I am not a cancer patient, but I love reading your blogs, because they give me insight into what others are going through. My sister is a three-time breast cancer survivor, so I pass these along to her. Keep up the good work, Denise.

  2. Thanks, Denise, this is SO helpful. I completed chemo 8 months ago; completed radiation 6 months ago, and just had reconstructive surgery one month ago. Sometimes it feels like I will never be able to do the things I once did – like go to the grocery store, AND cook dinner on the same day. It’s good to hear that good things are coming ahead, and that this, too, shall pass.

    • Hi Tina, so glad you made it through all that treatment stuff. But it takes
      such a toll. Oh gosh, I know those feelings – grocery store and cook dinner same
      day! It seems impossible for you to imagine! I am so glad I could give you hope
      about the future. Honestly, I am amazed that I have as much energy as I do now.
      It’s not like the old me, but it is about 80% better than it was! There is hope!! Denise

  3. This is my 2nd cancerversary and that energy boost you talk about kicked in out of the blue recently for me. It is amazing. I walk 30 to 45 minutes most mornings. Jesus has been with me through the darkest moments. Love love love God for my life today!

    Peace.

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