Fatigue

I came to South Africa for the first time in October 2008 not knowing the difference between leaf and lief. Never did I dream that I would meet my future wife here. Never that my skills as a Fatigue Doctor would help my fiancé overcome fatigue related problems due to stage 3 breast cancer.

When diagnosed with breast cancer the best advice I can give is to surround yourself with a positive healthcare team and positive people. We chose Dr. Carol Ann Benn and Dr. Marrise Venter as the surgeons and Dr. Devan Moodley as the oncologist. Not once did the group we picked, or in fate picked us, disappoint. Remember, when it comes down to it you are an army of ONE:

– YOU have breast cancer, not your spouse.

– YOU are feeling sick, not your friends.

– YOU need to take care of you, as selfish as that sounds.

A view from outside

I was paying for a parking ticket one day as I recognised three ladies walking with my fiancé toward the front door. There was a guy in front of them with a broken leg, cast and crutches. Someone held the door open for him but let it close on the women who he saw as healthy. That day made me realise that the world can’t see pain, can’t see exhaustion, can’t see cancer… It might be our job to educate them through magazines like Buddies for Life on what cancer is like. Wear the beautiful pink clothes and fight every day like it fights you.

In regards to fatigue, having cancer drains you like a battery. Think of your body as an energizer bunny that has to be recharged throughout the day. It is up to you to plan out those recharge stations. It is also up to you to use those positive people you are surrounding yourself with to help you when in need.

Schedules

Many of you are control freaks, let’s face it that stress may have brought you here. So, follow the suggested schedule below:

A. On treatment day plan nothing else

B. Breathe

C. Relax

D. Learn to be patient because today you are one (a patient)

Old way

05:00 Wake up, shower, coffee

05:30 Make kids lunch, have piece of toast

06:30 Drop kids off, on to work

07:00-17:00 Work through lunch, take no breaks, have Pepsi and piece of leftover birthday cake

18:00-18:30 Cook pre-packaged dinner chicken noodle casserole

18:30-19:00 Enjoy dinner with family, only you’re at table, they are in front of TV. You slowly fall asleep at table just as your chin hits the chicken noodle casserole. Ouch that’s hot!

19:00 – 21:00 Kids watch TV and you answer phone call from best friend and start to solve her psychiatric problems, as you think to yourself maybe we belong on Jerry Springer. At 21:00 you hang up, no time left for you.

21:30 Get kids ready for bed

22:30 Pass out in bed

New way

05:00 Wake up, shower, drink lemon water to clean liver and hydrate you

05:30 Lunch was made night before, you drink tea and grab a drinkable yogurt

06:30 Kids are dropped and on to work

07:00-08:00 You discuss your cancer with your boss as well as expected missed days and plans to work from home. If not available a break system that will keep his production going and you energized as well. If you think this is a dream, Anglo American, Google and other companies have nap stations during work hours.

12:30 You will eat a small protein meal and take vitamins like Magnesium and B12

13:30 This is the first dip in your Circadian Rhythm, you will drink coffee or tea if no nap allowed

18:00-18:30 Your family or friends help you cook dinner, remember you are an army of one but have surrounded yourself by people that care.

18:30-19:00 Have dinner with family, talk about life. Smile and laugh, remind them of things you may need help with.

19:00 -21:00 They watch TV and you capture this as ME time. Take a relaxing bath, go on a small walk, brush your dog, pray more, love more.

21:30 Help kids to bed with a smile

22:15 Slide into bed, oh and by the way since you left your phone on vibrate your girlfriend from work found someone else to dump her crazy problems on.

So, to some it all up don’t wait till you’re 60 years old to get your first massage. Slow down, smell some roses, spend time with those that matter and make you feel good and in the words of Julia Roberts:EAT! PRAY! LOVE!

MEET THE EXPERT

Dr Doug Potter is a doctor of Naturopathy and has a PHD in Behavioral Science. He is the team leader for first Fatigue Centre in Africa. Increased production at last site - 35,7%. Goal - to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am.

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