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Weekly Blog: What to do when fatigue hits

PCFA_OC_Manager
Community Manager
Community Manager
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FATIGUE (And how to kick its arse, rather than the other way round)

By Tim Baker

I was supposed to write this blog post yesterday.

But I was a bit … well, frankly, I was a bit tired. Which, in the ruthless world of freelance journalism, is about as valid an excuse as the proverbial dog eating your homework.

Except, in this case, the client – the delightful folks at the PCFA – have a good understanding of and empathy for cancer-related fatigue (CRF), especially the acutely debilitating kind inflicted by hormone therapy.

And so, here we are, a day past deadline, turning my excuse into the subject matter for the post itself. Genius, huh?

The fatigue we experience with hormone therapy is not really something you fix with mere rest, because no amount of rest seems to ameliorate its oppressive effects.

Counter-intuitively, what seems to help me overcome CRF is pushing through it and doing something, pretty much anything, physically active. Being active seems to provide more energy, rather than deplete it, like a renewable resource that can have a pleasing snowball effect.

But this is obviously easier said than done, and there’s no great shame in succumbing to the seductive powers of the couch and Netflix for a mental health day every so often. But that doesn’t really constitute a lifestyle.

So, herewith, a few of my own fatigue busters for when you sense you might be getting stuck in a rut you are finding it hard to climb out of. Some of these might be easier to achieve than others, given your unique circumstances and clinical picture, but hopefully something here helps.

  1. (My personal favourite) Jump in the ocean, if that is at all possible for you. Ocean waves generate negative ions, which make us feel good through a biochemical process I can’t begin to explain but experience profoundly. And it’s not like you need to ride the wild surf as if you’re an ageless Kelly Slater. If my 88-year-old father, with bladder cancer, a pacemaker, and a recent hip replacement, can still take a dip in the old briny for his morning constitutional, so can you.
  2. If the ocean is too far away, then any kind of immersion in nature can also deliver a therapeutic dose of negative ions – forests, waterfalls, and some kind of physical activity, even just a gentle bushwalk, can shift the malaise and have you looking at the world afresh.
  3. Digging in the dirt, marvelling at the miracle of growth and new life, and the powerful microbial effects of rummaging around in the soil, can elevate our spirits and plug us into the cycles of nature and the seasons.
  4. We all need our Vitamin D, but sunshine can also lift our mood and help us get moving again when we’re feeling stuck, as if it thaws out frozen joints and lubricates our system.
  5. It was the great Bob Marley who best articulated the power of music to help us feel no pain. Whether playing, simply listening, whether live or recorded, the right tune at the right time can elevate the human condition like few other remedies.
  6. Collective energy. Spending too much time on our own, retreating into our cave, can be a self-perpetuating downward spiral if it drags on too long. I like a bit of solitude as much as the next guy (so long as the next guy is a Tibetan monk) but there comes a point where we need other humans. Joining a choir, a sporting team, a bushwalking group, any activity that plugs you into the energy of others and requires something of you can be the metaphorical jumper leads we sometimes need to get started if we’ve lain idle too long.
  7. Good food. Shopping, preparing, learning a new recipe, sharing food with friends or even just making a nice meal for ourselves, is a sensory delight that enlivens our energy levels. Grow some fresh herbs or salad greens at home to combine at least two of the aforementioned strategies (food and gardening) and you’re well on your way to avoiding any limiting ruts that might harpoon your full enjoyment of life.
  8. Supervised exercise. Having someone barking instructions at you like a crazed sergeant major can make it rather easier to get moving when motivation falters. As someone with a chronic illness, you may qualify for a health care plan, which entitles you to five subsidised, allied health referrals each year. You can use these to see a nutritionist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, or a range of other health professionals, but I tend to take all five of mine for physiotherapy in the form of supervised Pilates classes. Having someone customise an exercise regime for you is a great way to kick off a new resolve around physical fitness.

What are your own strategies for shaking off fatigue? We’re all here to learn from each other and coffee alone can only get us so far, right?

This August, Tim will launch his latest book, Patting the Shark. This candid story documents his journey learning to live well with prostate cancer. To launch Patting the Shark, Tim will join Professor Suzanne Chambers at Brisbane Library on August 21, 2022 from 11am to 12pm to talk about his journey. To attend, click here.


About the Author

 
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Tim Baker is an award-winning author, journalist and storyteller specialising in surfing history and culture, working across a wide variety of media from books and magazines to film, video, and theatre. Some of his most notable books include “Occy”, a national bestseller and chosen by the Australia Council as one of “50 Books You can’t Put Down” in 2008, and “The Rip Curl Story” which documents the rise of the iconic Australian surf brand to mark its 50th anniversary in 2019. Tim is a former editor of Tracks and Surfing Life magazines. He has twice won the Surfing Australia Hall of Fame Culture Award.

Tim was diagnosed with stage 4, metastatic prostate cancer in 2015 with a Gleason score 9. He was told he had just five years of reasonable health left, but seven years on, at 57, he’s still surfing, writing, and enjoying being a dad. His latest book, Patting The Shark, also documents his cancer journey and will be published in August. Tim will be sharing weekly insights into his journey to help other men who have also been impacted by prostate cancer.


Help is Available

Prostate Cancer Specialist Telenursing Service

If your life has been impacted by prostate cancer, our Specialist Telenursing Service is available to help. If you would like to reach out to the PCFA Prostate Cancer Specialist Telenurse Service for any questions you have about your prostate cancer experience, please phone 1800 22 00 99 Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm, Wednesday 10am-8pm (AEST).

Prostate Cancer Support Groups

PCFA is proud to have a national network of affiliated support groups in each state and territory of Australia consisting of men and women who have a passion for assisting others who encounter prostate cancer. This network is made up of over 170 affiliated groups who meet locally to provide one-to-one support, giving a vision of life and hope after treatment. Call us on 1800 22 00 99 to find your local group.

MatesCONNECT Telephone-based peer support

MatesCONNECT is a telephone-based peer support program for men affected by prostate cancer. If you’ve recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer, our MatesCONNECT service can connect you to a trained volunteer who understands what you’re going through. All of our volunteers have been through prostate cancer. Simply call us on 1800 22 00 99 to be connected with a volunteer.

Newly diagnosed? or need to find more information? Access the PCFA resources here.

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