Hi everyone. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in Jan 2020 after my 1st mammogram. I had a mastectomy followed by a lymphectomy as cancer was found in the sentinel node. All nodes then removed were clear :slightly_smiling_face: This was followed by radiotherapy, and I’m taking zoladex and exemestane. This May after my 2nd mammogram I had a 2nd mastectomy as they found DCIS. I have just started on a phased return to work and am really struggling with energy levels, and also with certain family members who think I should be mentally and physically back to normal now.

Just wondering how long others have experienced high levels of fatigue for, and if you have any tips for getting over to people what fatigue is like? I feel guilty for not doing more, especially to help my brother with looking after my mum who isn’t too well, but I really feel that I can’t take on any more at the moment! 


There’s fatigue linked to your hormone therapy, there’s fatigue brought on by chemo and emotional fatigue. Your world is turned upside down, your sense of safety reduced, your certainties no longer certainties… wouldn’t you feel someone was quite justified in feeling they’re struggling? We all react to treatment in different ways, we all struggle with unfamiliar emotions and, let’s face it, hospitals focus on the physical and may well overlook the emotional, which is outsourced to charities which had to close in the pandemic. So you’ve also been deprived of a lot of support you might have had. You’ve had a raw deal in fact, on top of traumatising surgery. You could maybe start by ringing the nurses at the number above. They’ll have advice about dealing with fatigue. I wasn’t happy with the advice a nurse gave - keep walking further than you think you can and you’ll get through it. Great. I could barely walk with joint pain.

Do you know that your employer was obliged to register you as disabled once you had your cancer diagnosis. This means they must make adjustments to your work environment, phased return to work, reduced hours, whatever is specified in the Equalities Act 2010 and its updates. So if you are finding work difficult owing to fatigue, your employer must support you by law. Macmillan is very good at advising on your employment rights (see their helpline). Maybe you could contact them in case you need to reduce your hours or take leave again.

As for family and friends, there isn’t much I can suggest, Neither of my brothers has ever asked after my health, despite knowing I have secondary cancer. One has health anxiety, the other is too busy the other side of the world. Cancer can feel quite isolating and it’s hurtful when people say how well we are doing, how glad we must feel that life is back to normal - you can only educate them by not accepting their comments but, if you have fatigue, you won’t have the energy to bother. Ignore it if you can. I imagine your brother’s expectations are influenced by his not wishing to accept responsibility for caring for your mother. You can’t change that so ignore the digs if you can - you have to be your top priority or you will never regain your health.

There’s an excellent article about life after cancer that may have something that helps: 


Hope something in this waffle helps. All the best xx