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Fatigue and cravings continue. Day 27. Could chemo and radiation play a part?

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I am a 2 time breast cancer survivor.  The most recent was diagnosed January of 2014.  I had 12 months of intensive chemo which was finished in March 2015.   I, also, had 30 days of intensive radiation among surgeries.  


I started my Whole 30 on April 10.  I was addicted to Stevia and quit all Stevia one week before I started the Whole 30 as to not completely shock my system.  I have done really really good.  I have not cheated at all!!  I no longer take in any forms of sugar except for fruit, dried mango and dates.   I have fruit every day but the mango and dates are not daily.  


I feel my new crutch is sweet potatoes!!  I eat a whole big sweet potato every day split between 3 meals.  I do snack on fruit or veggies as going more than 4 hours without food is difficult for me.  I usually have a snack 2 hours before dinner.  I find that I am, also, eating more nuts.  I eat about 2 tablespoons of almond butter a day.  If I don't eat almond butter then I eat 2 handfuls of walnuts usually in tuna or in a chicken salad with my homemade mayo.  I eat a ton of veggies; raw, steamed and baked.  I drink over a gallon of water a day.


I do hot power yoga 5 days a week.  Some of the yoga is with weights.  Yoga is my peace an serenity as it got me through all the chemo and radiation.  Even when I was very sick during chemo I went to yoga even is just resting in savasana for half the class.  


I am sleeping at least 8 hours a day.  Some days 10 hours.  


Today is day 27 and I still am feeling lethargic.  I do feel better than day 1 but do not feel the way you describe in the daily messages as it seems I should have had much more energy by now.  I don't plan on going off the whole 30 any time soon as I feel that continuing is probably best for me at this point.  


Is there anything I should be doing differently? Any suggestions would be very welcomed as I am doing everything within my power to feel like I use to pre-cancer treatment.



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Yes, chemo and radiation could definitely play a part. Having been through both myself several years ago, I can tell you that it takes longer than you realize to really be back to normal. It's hard because in so many ways, you start feeling normal again pretty quickly, but then other symptoms take longer. It would not be unusual for you to still be feeling these effects a year after treatment. This is an older article from Cure magazine, but it has a pretty good summary of some of the after effects of treatment and how long some people experience those symptoms. 


Having said all that, if you wanted to give us a more detailed listing of a day or two worth of food, including approximate portion sizes based on the meal template, we could see if anything stands out that might make a difference.


I would encourage you to find other fat sources and cut back on the nuts and nut butters -- they're not your best source of fat. They have a less than ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 and they cause digestive issues for many people. Maybe try to keep them to every other day, and try having olives, avocado, or mayo instead. I don't know that this will necessarily affect your fatigue, just in general it would be a better option.


Are you having post-workout meals after your yoga? If you were just doing gentle stretching, it probably wouldn't warrant a post-wo meal, but the hot power yoga probably does -- have a bit of lean protein within about half an hour afterwards. Are you drinking plenty of water, at least half your body weight in ounces each day (so if you weigh 120 lbs, drink at least 60 oz)? Salting your food? Any of those things could make a difference.

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HI Shannon,


Thank you so much for the article.  I hope you are doing really well after your treatments!!!


Here is a "typical day" of meals.


Wake at 8am

16 oz or more of water before anything

Coffee with canned coconut milk (usually 2-3 cups over several hours)



3 eggs cooked in grapeseed or coconut oil

1/2 avacado

some days I add olives



chicken breast or 4-6 oz of grassfed steak or 4-6 oz fish OR chicken/tuna salad with homemade mayo, celery, walnuts, dried cranberries (apple juice infused)

1 red bell pepper or steamed cauliflower and broccoli

OR chicken with cauliflower, celery, dried cranberries, mayo

fist size sweet potato with all of the above



apple with 2 tbsp of almond butter and olives OR 1/2-1 date bar (dates and coconut) with 1 tbsp almond butter and olives



chicken breast or 4-6 oz of grassfed steak or 4-6 oz fish OR chicken/tuna salad with homemade mayo, celery, walnuts, dried cranberries (apple juice infused)

1 red bell pepper or steamed cauliflower and broccoli

OR chicken with cauliflower, celery, dried cranberries, mayo

fist size sweet potato with all of the above


After dinner either orange, apple or dried mango


If I go to yoga and I am doing errands after class I have a lara or paleo bar....the bars I choose are without vanilla extract and stevia.  I only have the bar about 1-2 days a week and only after yoga if I am not going to be home to get a proper meal.   (Introducing Julian Bakery’s Paleo Protein Bar®! They are 100% Paleo, Gluten-free, GMO-free, Grain-free, High-fiber, Nut-free (except for Chocolate Brownie, Vanilla Pudding, Almond Fudge, and Vanilla Cake), Dairy-free, Soy Free, Corn Free, Whey-free, & No Sugar Alcohols. All of our bars contain 20g of protein with no added sugar (2g naturally occurring) sweetened with monk fruit or organic stevia leaf. Each bar is a complete protein meal replacement or snack with 160 or more calories and 2 Net Carbs or more (10 Flavors To Choose From). Our bars are soft, creamy, cake like, and best off all delicious!

Paleo Protein Bars are made with the best bio-available proteins (Egg White Or Grass-Fed Beef Beef Protein), combined with carefully selected fibers, carbohydrates, and healthy fats (from coconut). Calorie values of 1.2 and 2.4 per gram respectively, versus 4 calories per gram used for typical carbohydrates. Our healthy organic prebiotic fiber (from organic tapioca) helps improve digestion, curb appetite without all the stomach issues.)

I drink at least 3-4 40oz of water a day sometimes with lemon.
I have only eaten out 2 meals since I started the Whole 30 and made the best choices I could being careful with salad dressings, other sauces and additives.
Thank you,
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Thank you for the info on the bars. I knew they were too good to be true.

Do you have any feedback on what my daily routine looks like for food quantity or quality. Honestly, I have eaten a total of 4 bars in the whole 30.

Any idea of why I am still fatigued and feel like I need to sleep 10-12 hours every day?

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Hi Janeen


I'm not too sure on the recovery side of your situation, I've no experience with chemo myself.

But I have been through recovery after a severe loss of muscle mass and some of it just takes time (sometimes you'll need some extra nutrition too, for extra repair).


Some options you might want to consider:


Food as soon as you wake up at 8am, rather than coffee or water.

  • Coffee can suppress your appetite and water before a meal can make digestion more difficult.
  • If you have a pre-made baked slice (meat, veggies, eggs) you can just reheat and eat.
  • I have a lot more veggies with my breakfast. If you find it's hard to eat a lot in the morning, some people do better with vegetable soup.
  • You'd be okay to have the coffee after eating and as much water as you want after a little digestion time.
  • Eating sooner after waking helps reset your body clock, if you find eating after waking is hard, it can be a sign your hormones are a bit off.

Your lunch looks good to me.


For your snack between lunch and dinner, I'd probably replace it with a mini template meal, template ratios but smaller in size.


I'd skip the date bars, dried fruit and nut butters for snacks. Eat whole fruits if you want fruit, with your meals. It's a lot harder to overeat whole fruits. If the ones you like aren't in season, try frozen rather than dried, it still has the whole fruit. Often when we're wanting a lot of dried fruit and nut butters it's because we're hungry.


For your hot power yoga, I would be having a pre & post meal. It may not seem like a big workout, but hot yoga is a lot of work for the body and it needs good fuel and recovery. It doesn't seem like you're doing this currently, and at 5 days a week, this could be adding up to some serious fatigue, even without your other recovery. Sleep also won't make up for a lack of food, so if this is what's making you feel so tired, you may need to be eating more.


The water with fruit in it is fine, it's also nice with cucumber slices (really refreshing) and I really like fresh strawberries too (perfect for those ones that are a little soggy but not past it).


If you think you could fit in more food, you could do with some more green veggies.


Are you taking any supplements? Get any cramps?

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  • 2 months later...

As for me, chemo/radiation destroyed my muscle mass - total weakling after treatment and I'm still struggling 3 years later.  But chemo did a huge number on my system (fried nerve receptors, chemo induced fibromyalgia and more), so I'm not surprised that my health is still bad being this far out. Plus, my medication (Arimidex) causes bone pain and my gabapentic makes me tired all the time.  I also developed a huge sugar addiction during treatment, because damn it, I deserved it...right?  


I think you're progressing, look at how active and healthy you're eating!  Its going to take time to heal from chemo, so don't give up :)

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