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Increasing fatigue 10 weeks after radiotherapy


Re: Increasing fatigue 10 weeks after radiotherapy

Dear all on replying, 

This sounds awful but I am so glad it's not just me!!!! I am 45 and three weeks post radiotherapy. I went back to work on a phased return last week and I am struggling. I. Working part from home/ office and in schools. I am getting to 2pm and feeling exhausted in PJ's by 5pm. I feel like it should be feeling a little better by now as I. Past the two week peak of tiredness. Please has anyone else got any accounts of how they felt post radiotherapy. I have been off work for around 10 weeks prior to returning that covered my therapeutic mammoplasty and recovery alongside most of my 15 sessions of radio therapy. I really don't want to go off sick again but I want perspective. I also have two young boys 5 and 9 who have very hectic schedules. Any feedback, thoughts or experiences welcome as I try to work out what is best. Thank you in advance. 


Re: Increasing fatigue 10 weeks after radiotherapy

Hello @Denise2022 

I agree with @adoptedmanc when she wrote about her BC nurse had explained at her 12 month follow up that fatigue following radiotherapy can still be experienced even months later.

I had a mastectomy in August 2021 followed by 15 sessions of radiotherapy which ended in November 2021.  I have recovered very well over the last year, returning to my usual activities, taking regular exercise, taking flights to visit family overseas.  I am happy and confident again.  However, sometimes I feel really tired and exhausted after apparently minimal activity.  For example, husband and I have returned today from spending three days visiting friends; dining out, dining in, meeting other friends, sightseeing, shopping, four hour return drive, and right now I feel unusually overcome with tiredness. Perhaps an early night…but it’s only 5.30pm!!

I post this not to moan, not to worry or concern you but to reassure you that tiredness following radiotherapy is perfectly normal and to be expected.  I understand now that sometimes I need to “pace myself” and listen to my body.  When I expressed to my radiotherapy support worker that “I just want to get back to normal”, she responded that “Yes, but it will be a new normal”.  

I now understand what she meant. Take care and work with your new normal.

Community Champion

Re: Increasing fatigue 10 weeks after radiotherapy

Hello @Denise2022 

Jan’s advice is absolutely spot on. 
I’m a few years younger than you and returned to work around 8 weeks after I finished my radiotherapy: and I have a professional desk job were I can have “off days” I have previously volunteered in a school and am in absolute awe of all teachers who have to “perform” in front of a class day in day out! 
I had a 12 month follow up a few weeks ago and the lovely nurse explained to me that whilst radiotherapy doesn’t appear to be a big deal (you don’t necessarily have physical reactions and it’s all quite quick) however what the radiotherapy actually does to your internal breast tissue is very radical and changes it forever. I was told that the body’s defence systems desperately try to fight the tissue changes hence the energy reserves are used to try and fight it and eventually the body learns to accept this but it can take upto 12 to 18 months!

Please please don’t be too hard on yourself, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to be following treatment and we are all different. I hope you are able to find a way to do what you want to do in a way that your body and mind allows you. 

Lots of love

AM xxx 


Re: Increasing fatigue 10 weeks after radiotherapy

Hi Denise

I am so sorry you feel disappointed with yourself. That really isn’t fair on yourself as it’s almost impossible to predict how treatments will affect us. The fact is, radiotherapy can hit hard. I remember sailing through it thinking what a doddle it was - and then a few weeks later, wham! And it can last…how long is that piece of string?

There are two schools of thought. The first is that you listen to your body, you rest when you need to rest, even if it’s all day, and give your body time to heal. The other is that you push through the barrier, which sounds like what you’ve been doing. But it hasn’t suited you - low mood will get lower, frustration with yourself will grow - and resentment at a world that believes you’re all better now will fester.

I taught for 29 years in an inner city comprehensive. I’d retired long before I developed cancer but I am absolutely certain that I could not have taught after my treatment finished. I spent a whole summer just reading in the garden and, by Autumn, I wasn’t much improved when it came to fatigue. I was 68 by then so age may have been a factor but it didn’t change the fact that I wasn’t even able to do simple gardening without a bench to sit on!

You aren’t even three months past radiotherapy. Perhaps it’s time to go to your GP and discuss your options. If you’re uncertain, ring your breast care nurses’ service and ask what they think. The fact is, we are each very different and there is simply no way to predict how we will be affected. You are exhausted after simple social activities (me too) - a day’s teaching is way more demanding, particularly as mental fug can be a huge factor in fatigue. Your employer has registered you as disabled under the 2010 Equalities Act so your employment rights are protected and your employer must accommodate your needs. Right now, it seems that you need to take it a month at a time. Take a month’s leave and see if things improve. But, above all, be kind to yourself. Breast cancer takes a huge emotional toll on us, let alone the physical toll. We each heal at our own pace and, in my personal experience, you can’t speed that up without eventually paying a price, collapse.

I hope you find some resolution quickly. Take care of yourself and remember, you are not at fault, you are not being weak, you are suffering from post-treatment fatigue!

Jan x


Increasing fatigue 10 weeks after radiotherapy

Hi all,

I’m experiencing such increasing fatigue 10 weeks post radiotherapy. Is this common? I returned to work one day a week as a teacher three weeks ago but am barely getting through my day and feel sick with tiredness at tge end of tge school day. I thought I’d be ok to go back as I’m 63, semi retired and am only committed to one day a week but I’m struggling. Other days I have tried to get back into doing things I enjoy and have done before and can do them with a smile but am then absolutely exhausted- headache, feel sick with tiredness, don’t feel well. 
I would have thought after 10 weeks post radiotgerapy (5 day course following therapeutic mamaplasty) I’d feel better than this. People see me and think I’m over it now. And I try my best when I’m out. But inwardly I’m disappointed with myself and feel so exhausted. I also have shoulder and arm stiffness (opposite arm) which makes it hard to sleep. Exercvjses and stretches help but it still hurts.
I’m worrying now that something isn’t right. My face swelled up for a couple of hours yesterday. 
what have other peoples experiences been?

when might it get better? 

Feeling tearful,

Denise x