Freight Train of Fatigue


The freight train of fatigue has taken up residence in my body.  Whoaaaaa, Nelly.

Why do x-rays to a small area of my body cause so much exhaustion, you ask?

While radiation is intended to destroy any “stray” cancer cells that weren’t removed surgically or by chemo, it also bombards healthy cells on a daily basis.  Therefore, the body requires A LOT of energy for those healthy cells to heal form the damaging effects of radiation.

The best analogy that I can give is it is like spending a day at the beach.  Literally.  But without the fun.

I remember spending endless days at the local pool (growing up in the middle of Indiana, we didn’t have beaches…unless they were manufactured).  I came home at the end of the day fried to a crisp.  With my Irish skin, I tended to burn and then peel and then tan.  So gross to think about now.  But it’s how I rolled.

At the end of those long crispy days, I was sooooo tired as a result of overexposure to the sun’s rays. The radiation from a sunburn damages the DNA of the skin’s cells, triggering these cells to die. The dead cells then trigger the release of inflammatory signals called cytokines that lead to redness, swelling, pain and exhaustion.

The same thing happens with direct radiation (without the sunscreen, I might add!).

Exhaustion is exacerbated by the fact that my body is expending overtime energy to repair the damaged cells. Combine this with the fact that after surgery and chemo, I’m already wiped out.  Beyond words.

However, here come the Silver Linings:

  1. I’m NOT nauseous!
  2. I’m NOT nauseous!!
  3. I’m NOT nauseous!!!
  4. I have 3 weeks to go and I will be DONE with treatment.


Everything worth doing is exhausting.

– John Polanvi


Leave a comment


  1. Patsy says

    I think I Can, I think I Can!!!!!
    You are the Little Engine that Could
    you will make it over that hilll!!!!!!!

  2. says

    People just don't understand radiation fatigue is more than tired.

    The funny thing is I was fine up until treatment 19. By 21 I was a zombie.

    It is like being a Stepford wife with no battery pack. I couldn't concentrate. Sometimes I would feel ok for a few hours and then go into the fatigue zone. I almost fell asleep in a chair at a party.

    It gets better gradually. For a few weeks I could clean either my toilet, tub, or sink but only one. Then two. About 4 weeks later I was 75%…6 weeks 90%.

    But when it had it's grip on me I couldn't fight back.

  3. Kim says

    Hi Hollye,
    No nausea is definitely a silver lining! But feeling exhausted can be hard. You're probably just F'ing tired of being tired! Right? I remember when I had finished all my treatments and was busy trying to get on with my life – & was hit with the issue of very low iron. I was so exhausted all over again too – & it got to me. Just remember – it won't be long now. Try to rest, give in to it and I wish you serenity from some of your cares. The long weekend with your family must have been wonderful…the movie great!
    It won't be too long now. Take good care & all your blogging buddies are behind you all the way!

  4. Carol Harrington Riv says

    You're rolling down the tracks of fatigue, but your destination is not too far off. Soon the conductor will be telling you that it's time to disembark from this train and enter the land of "reclaim your energy"!

    Just hang in there, and when you need to rest….. just do it!