How I Overcame Cancer Fatigue


How I Overcame Cancer Fatigue

March 22, 2019 | by Adriana Lombardo


During my two and a half years of weekly chemotherapy, I had no energy. Like I’m sure many of you can relate, getting out of bed was a struggle; the idea of getting dressed made my head hurt. I forced myself to get up, get washed and dressed and move my body to the couch. I could not face the fact that my body needed so much rest. It was so frustrating that my body just wanted to stay in bed all day. I knew the least I could do was move to another part of the house. Although I had been an active person before my diagnosis, the possibility of anything remotely close to exercise felt so far away from me at the time.


I started slow. I began going for walks, telling myself the fresh air would feel good against my skin – even if just for a bit. The first thing I noticed as I increased the duration and distance of my walks, was that I was able to sleep better. Once I started sleeping better, I could feel myself gaining little by little more  energy to want to get out of bed. Then I noticed that it was less of a struggle to help myself get in and out of the shower - no longer the 8-step process that it once was. These changes were minuscule, but huge to my quality of life. That was when I realized that maybe the possibility of exercise wasn’t as far away as I had felt just weeks before.

When I discovered Wellspring through Princess Margaret Cancer Center, I was halfway through treatment. I was told they had an exercise program with registered kinesiologists and personal trainers to assist in creating a well-suited program based on my treatment and how I was feeling. I was eager to start because I missed that feeling of finishing a workout. I missed the independence that came with it. Once I was set up, I was attending twice a week and continued light exercises at home given my prescribed program. This is where I found my love for exercise again.


I found myself exercising – but more importantly wanting to­ exercise. I set up a few things in my home that I would need to make it easier for me: light dumbbell weights, light resistance bands, a yoga mat I discovered at the dollar store – it didn’t cost me much to put this together. Creating this little set up made gave me a feeling of control and made me even more excited. I didn’t put pressure on myself to workout. I exercised when I felt that I could and found it in me to want to do it. It made it way more enjoyable! Each little action felt like a celebration of what my body could do, after where it had been.


With a little bit of exercise, my resting heart rate decreased and breaking a sweat was releasing all those endorphins I had been missing – I felt happy again! I truly believe that the little bit of exercise I had introduced during treatment (those short walks down the street), made my post-treatment transition a little bit easier.  I was finally beginning to feel like me again. I felt strong. I felt independent because I was doing something for me. I felt that I was taking back the control that I once had prior to treatment, especially when it came to my energy.

I wrote this blog to tell you that if it feels impossible right now, that’s okay – it did for me too. Hopefully my story will reassure you that it’s not as far away as you might think.

Adriana Lombardo

Life after Leukemia

I’m Adriana, a leukemia survivor who took sickness to fitness. After receiving a total left hip replacement upon completing treatment in 2017, I became a certified Personal Trainer Specialist. I now am a student at George Brown College studying Health & Fitness Promotion. Being a health & wellness enthusiast, I am passionate about helping people live a healthy and active lifestyle. My goal is to help cancer patients and survivors! I want to use my experience and my growing knowledge to share stories, post tips, healthy snack ideas and more. Going through treatment isn’t easy, and finishing treatment isn’t easier. Let me help you find your inner – and outer – strength.