Fatigue is one of the most debilitating and frustrating symptoms faced by individuals after cancer treatment. For some, these symptoms can last for months or even years after treatment. This can have an emotional and functional impact on peoples’ lives. Such overwhelming fatigue can hold people back from resuming ‘normal life’ after cancer.
An online programme called ‘REFRESH: Recovery from Cancer-Related Fatigue’ has been developed by NUI Galway and Cancer Care West Hardiman Scholar Teresa Corbett to help people manage fatigue symptoms after cancer. Participants to date reported they found the REFRESH programme both helpful and enjoyable to use.
Cancer-related fatigue is still relatively under-recognised and under-treated. The online programme aims to address this unmet need of cancer survivors by raising awareness about what might cause fatigue and how people can learn to cope with it effectively.
The ‘REFRESH: Recovery from Cancer-Related Fatigue’ programme will provide eight online sessions for people in the comfort of their own home. The free online sessions will focus on what people do and think in response to their fatigue symptoms. Participants will be provided with instructions on a range of activity-pacing techniques to encourage more consistent levels of activity from day-to-day. Useful relaxation techniques and how to sleep better will also be addressed.
The study is open to people all over Ireland and will take place over the coming months. GPs and cancer support networks around the country are being encouraged to refer suitable people with fatigue to the study. Participants can access all medical services as usual while involved in the programme.
Teresa Corbett, coordinator of the study, said:
“I’ve met so many people who are fatigued after cancer treatment. Often they feel frustrated and confused about their symptoms. We know that programmes like this can be beneficial. Unfortunately, people often feel that they do not get the support they need to re-adjust to life after cancer. We want to help people to learn skills to enable them to move on with their lives.”
Dr Jane Walsh, supervisor of the study at NUI Galway, added:
“Online programmes can allow many people to access high quality care from their own home, but we know how important it is to have personal contact as well. This is a promising new online fatigue management programme and we are hopeful it will be of benefit to people with persistent fatigue after cancer.”
A REFRESH Programme information evening will be held in the School of Psychology, NUI Galway on Tuesday, 10 January at 7pm. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 091 495951 if interested in attending.
All materials are available online for those wishing to learn effective ways of managing their fatigue. For further information contact Niamh Gethin, School of Psychology, NUI Galway, or visit https://nuigrefresh.wordpress.com/. GPs or cancer services who are interested in referring suitable patients to the programme can also use these contact details.