14 months back at work, and referred back to occupational health.

I have recovered pretty well from mastectomy, chemo and Herceptin, and am on Tamoxifen. I’m 43, and suffering horrible menopausal symptoms. I am coping with it all though, and doing really well in a new job. I ran 10k race for life a couple of weeks ago, which is something I never thought I could do!

My one remaining problem is that I seem to catch every bug going. I don’t seem to have any immunity to anything, and viruses seem to rumble around my body causing sinusitis, chest infections and colds that last for weeks on end. I have also recently been diagnosed with asthma. I’ve been referred back to OH because I have overstepped permissible short term sick days, and my employer wants them to say whether or not I am covered under the disability discrimination act as none of my illnesses are directly cancer related.

Just wondering if anyone else has experienced this. Not sure what I should be saying to OH. Don’t want them writing a report that says I can’t cope…I can’t afford to work part time!

Hi Fifirosalie

I’m sorry you are having problems with illnesses and work.  The Macmillan helpline and website have lots of information about work related issues.  I’ve attached a link:


I hope this helps.

Very best wishes


BCC Moderator

Firstly well done on getting through treatment and back to work and fitness.  This happened to me when I returned to work after treatment in 2011.  I was still having Herceptin when I went back to work and there was never any problem with taking time to go for this.  But I found like you for around 18 months I seemed to catch every sore throat and bug known to man.  I don’t think it helped working in an office where bugs were and travelling to and from work on the train with people coughing and sneezing.

I was told I had to see the firm’s OH doctor when she came in as I had over stepped the 10 day sick policy.  She was excellent, told me that of course I would get bugs etc as my immune system was basically “shot at” with all the chemo etc.  She did a very stern report to HR telling them this in no uncertain terms, and also suggesting that they needed to improve their treatment of cancer survivors. 

Needless to say I had no more problems with HR.

As time goes on you will find you get less and less bugs etc.  I am now 4 years down the line and this year I haven’t had one sick day from work, so you will get there.

Remember, OH is there for YOU, not the company.  They are there to make sure that the company don’t overstep the mark with you.  Go in there all guns blazing!!


Thank you Sam and Janet. Will read the Macmillan info. Sam I’m relieved to hear things have improved for you, gives me hope the same will be true for me. Just wasn’t too sure what to say to OH and frightened they’d say it’s my own fault for doing too much. My elderly mother tells me this at least once a week, and while I perfectly happy to argue the toss with her, I think I might have been starting to believe it!
I’ll be prepared now for when I get the appointment, thank you.

So sorry to hear how poorly you have been. I think we don’t realise how such a big op affects us, especially as we often have felt quite fit before dx.
before seeing the oh, can you discuss it with gp? Could be you need good tonic. I know i get very tired - been back at work since April.

A call to Macmillan would be useful I think.  They are very clued up on this sort of thing.


How can your employer say that your illnesses are not cancer-related!  How can they prove this? 


It is the person who is covered by the disability discrimination act, not the ailments.  As far as I am aware, having had a cancer diagnosis you are covered. 


Have you thought about taking a union representative with you to the OH appointment.