The role of EP during chemotherapy and post-cancer fatigue - Specialised Health

The role of EP during chemotherapy and post-cancer fatigue

June 1, 2017

The role of EP during chemotherapy and post-cancer fatigue

Meet our Brisbane based Exercise Physiologist, Kris Scaife.

Kris is a lecturer at the University of Queensland where he teaches Exercise Prescription for Metabolic Conditions, Ageing and Cancer and well as being the go-to EP for the Oncologists at Greenslopes Hospital, Kris also provides his Exercise Physiology services to Specialised Health clients throughout the Brisbane metro area.

On the role of exercise during the chemotherapy / radiation therapy phase of cancer treatment, Kris says:

One of the big side effects that you get from cancer treatment is that it makes people feel really, really ill. So one of the things you do obviously when you’re feeling ill is you don’t do much and you become sedentary. And that leads into a cycle of fatigue and deconditioning.

There are alot of studies, research and evidence now that state that trying to stay as active as you healthily can, enables you to stay stronger and healthier during the active treatment phase and enables you to cope and endure quite intensive and quite harsh treatment protocols. So keeping the body in as best condition as possible is very important to allow you to get as much treatment possible and improve the potential outcome.

On conducting exercise programs with clients who are post-chemotherapy and are aiming to increase their resistance to fatigue:

The first question I generally ask is, “how are you feeling today?”. It’s all about the delivery of education, “when you’re feeling like this, this is obviously the amount of exercise you can tolerate.” Clients will often push themselves too hard when they’re feeling good and they’ll do very little when they’re feeling bad and this will then exacerbate the “boom / bust” cycle and it’s really about providing the education around teaching their body to tolerate the intensity and use a graduated approach to increasing their activity levels.

One client I’m seeing at the moment has esophageal cancer and had radiation and chemotherapy through the October-November period, leading into a November surgery. So he spent his time in the lead up to surgery coming into the gym two or three times a week aiming to get as strong and as fit as he could.

He’s been back at work, on reduced capacity now, since about March-April. So that was, three months after being in hospital to being back at work. For him to go from the nature of the surgery undertaken at the end of November to get back to being in the office in March, was a great outcome for him.

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