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October 2023

Living a Balanced Life During Cancer Treatment

It’s never a simple thing to balance personal, family, and work commitments. But when cancer becomes part of the mix, it gets even more complicated.

Dealing with cancer can sometimes feel like a full-time job in itself. Getting tests and treatments, managing side effects, and following a self-care regimen can take up a lot of your time. Adding to the challenge, you may have less energy than you did before. And you aren’t the only one who feels this way—fatigue is the most common side effect of cancer treatment.

How can you get on with your regular life while going through cancer treatment? The strategies below can help.

Budget your time carefully

Prioritize your daily activities and focus on the essential tasks. When possible, schedule them during times of day when you feel most energetic. Give yourself permission to let go of less important tasks for a while.

Counteract activity with rest

Research has shown that physical activity may help reduce fatigue during and after cancer treatment. Ask your healthcare provider how much activity is right for you. Good options may include going for regular walks or taking a tai chi or gentle yoga class.

Rest breaks or naps can also help lessen fatigue, but limit them to 30 minutes or less. Resting for too long can sap your energy and may make it harder to sleep at night.

Consider changes at work

Some people are able to keep working while being treated for cancer. If you take that route, talk with your employer about what resources are available to help you continue working. Depending on the situation, examples of changes that might be helpful include:

  • Cutting back on work hours

  • Scheduling work hours around treatment times

  • Planning short rest breaks throughout the day

  • Doing more work from home

  • Switching temporarily to lighter work duties

Accept help from others

Be realistic about how much you try to do at home as well. Make a list of the household tasks that others could help out with, such as cooking, cleaning, running errands, walking the dog, or driving a carpool. Then, when a family member or friend asks how they can help, share the list and let them pick the task they prefer.

Chances are, they’ll welcome the opportunity to help because they care about you. And you’ll have more energy for the things that matter most, from enjoying movie night with your partner to reading a bedtime story to your child.


Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley BSN, RN
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2022
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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