“Remember, a Jedi’s strength flows from the Force.” Yoda, Star Wars: Episode 6 – Return of the Jedi
For much of my treatment (chemo and radiation), I felt like some Sith Lord put me in a Dark Side trance and at the end of the day I’d be like, “What just happened?” I wasn’t feeling a very strong connection to the “Force.” It was to be expected that I’d be tired, but I was really hoping my body would start bouncing back after my surgery and by the end of radiation I’d be feeling less tired. Not so much. In fact, I felt MORE TIRED. Which is not unusual, but uncommon. I’m told most radiation patients are more tired during treatments than after. But then I had to remind myself about everything my body had been through. It was like, “Megan, you’ve been through SO MUCH. You are tired. Relax. Relaaaaaaaax.”
So, when I wasn’t working, I let myself relax for the most part. I wasn’t doing to many activities after work. Granted, I was working full-time but eventually my body was getting so sore and my doctor said, “You can’t baby yourself.” And she was absolutely right! I was also starting get back into singing after taking a few months off, and I was easily exhausted doing that as well. That was something that was so easy to me before, but then I was struggling… So, about halfway through radiation, I started going to Yoga at the cancer center. Everyone who went was either a survivor or going through treatments so it was a less intense “chair yoga.” At first, I could really feel how sore and out of shape I was, but as the sessions progressed, I could feel my body starting to loosen up. I also started walking more often, and then I got to thinking… I should run!! Except, I HATE RUNNING! I probably haven’t run further than a few feet since high school. A friend mentioned doing the “Couch to 5k” program, so I downloaded the app on my phone. It’s a great tool for beginning runners. Admittedly, I’ve had to redo a couple weeks or missed a week because of conflicts, but I’m really proud of myself for doing this! I believe all that combined has really helped me peel back the layers of fatigue. While I’m still tired, I’m not AS tired. Every day is a little better. My knees might not be as happy, but they’ll learn to deal with it!
That also helped me to prepare for the summer of music and theatre! I had a concert to prepare for in August, a musical to music-direct from May to September, 2 weddings to sing for in September (one with my sister), and running trivia at Star Wars day at my local library in September! I knew all that would really tire me out, but thanks to amazing fellow musicians and production staff, I was able to survive the summer and feeling better than before. And even though I don’t feel like my voice is 100% yet, it feels strong. I’m not yet ready to perform in a musical, but I’m getting there, too. And that is when I starting writing this blog. It has really done me a world of good to get everything out of my brain where it has been sitting for so long and out in the world. I may still have a hard time finding my words, but at least I know I’ll get there, too!
The best advice I have for someone dealing with fatigue is to start slow. Do some sort of activity every day, and the next day make sure you spend a little more time doing it. If you can’t do a physical activity every day, switch off with something easy like coloring or writing or stretching. Keep your mind active and eventually your body will follow. Give yourself a break when you need it, but don’t let yourself wallow. The tough days will be there, but if you work at it, they will be few and far between. When you can overcome those bad days, the good days will be so much sweeter!
Featured image taken by Janette Marie
Up next: Episode 7: The Lymphedema Awakens