One of the first patients in my clinical practice was a man named Will. Will struggled extensively with fatigue. His energy just wasn’t there and he was missing out on all of life’s important parts. He thought, “I’m through cancer. Why can’t I just enjoy my family and get back to normal?” He had four young kids and financially it was important for him to return to work. He was well supported at work and they very much wanted him back, but he just didn’t have the energy to go every day.
I met Will and it started to dawn on me that this is a group of people that need more help. It’s not just simply about what’s the best supplement and what’s the next thing to do. We have to really dig deep into the roadblocks to recovering energy for cancer survivors.
So he came to see me and we started talking about what was in the way of getting his energy levels back. We realized that there are two major components in terms of recovering from fatigue.
The first one is your mental clarity, being in the right frame of mind in order to regain energy is really important to combat fatigue. Things like anxiety and intrusive thoughts of fear and uncertainty were weighing him down. Intrusive thoughts like this can take up so much of our mental energy, that it often reduces our capacity to do much else.
The second roadblock that we discovered, which is huge for me, was his nutrient deficiencies. Restoring physical health is not just waiting for your body to recover after the extensiveness of the disease, and of course the treatment. We really have to dig deep in helping patients restore themselves, and that’s really important for cancer survivors to get to thriving. This energetic state is needed in order to feel like we can live life again to its fullest.
The most interesting statistic that I’ve come across is that 80% of those who have been treated with chemotherapy experience frank vitamin D deficiency. That to me is not an okay thing. Just saying take 1000 IUs of vitamin D is not enough. We need to follow up and make sure that what we are providing to correct the deficiency is working sufficiently, and adjust the dosage or plan accordingly.
The best way to address nutritional deficiencies is to find out what they are, and dig deeper into how your particular treatment and the disease have affected your nutritional status. I advocate for anyone I work with to understand their blood tests, to know more about their blood counts along the way, and to understand what kinds of supplements can be taken safely to address nutrient deficiencies.
When we can practice as much prevention as possible, or at least catch deficiencies in the early stages, we can avoid prolonged recovery periods and keep you thriving as best as possible. This is particularly important if you have other health conditions that may put you at risk of nutritional deficiencies as well.