anxiety over when to return to work

Hi All, would be really useful to hear others’ views / experiences around when to return to work after BC.

I was diagnosed with high grade DCIS early May and worked (apart from the odd day off for appointments etc) until the day before my surgery at end of June. I had right mx and SNB, left surgical biospy (which showed very small area of low grade DCIS) and then further surgical biopsy (general anaesthetic) 9 Aug - got the results from this on Mon and thankfully now all clear and am just on yearly monitoring. I have been off work during this time and am currently signed off until end of Aug. On top of this I had major abdominal surgery in Feb and am being investigated for an underlying genetic condition - results next week - which could have major health implications for me and my son.

Physically I am healing well but emotionally I feel I have just bounced from one shock to another and in no way am ready to go back to work but also feel guilty about asking my GP for much more time off as I ‘look so well’ and have been given the ‘all clear’. I’m the sort of person who keeps going while I have to then I need some time to regroup once the the immediate situation has eased but I also keep doubting myself whether this is a valid reason to stay off work. I manage a mental health charity - its not too physically demanding but can be very stressful emotionally and mentally.

It would be really helpful to hear anyone’s views on this or how other people have managed things. thanks x


my grade 3 was diagnosed out of the blue in nov15

i was a sister on an acute medical ward and with resulting issues of surgery then chemo I haven’t returned yet.

i too have been quite well ( was very fit up to surgery) but while I used the treatment as my reason it was my head that I  didn’t feel would cope with work. I have been told countless times what a multi faceted recovery we have to go through. I think you are going back way too soon.

i am going back in sept ( still on herceptin and tamoxifen) and that feels soon enough. If I’m honest it is finances that drive me back, tomorrow is my final half pay and I just feel the stress from that will be too much.

my boss appears to be really supportive, is allowing me to choose my hours, phase me in etc

Have you talked to anyone at work? If they don’t know they can’t help

have you got the Macmillan book on Cancer and work. The Equalities act offers considerable protection.

But all that stuff aside poor you,and with the added worry of your other investigations and your son

Please don’t beat yourself up or belittle what you are going through

take care


Hi I was diagnosed at the end of May, wle & snb in June followed by mx on 5th July. Like you I worked until the day before my first op. Before this I couldn’t imagine being off work but although as you say we look well I think it takes time to take it all in. I’m currently 6/15 of radiotherapy and decided I would stay off until it is all finished. I still feel like I’m living in a parallel universe sand none of this has actually happened to me, not sure how long that feeling will last. So I haven’t really answered your question just rambled on but I think you have to take as long as you need and not feel guilty about it, it’s a lot yo take in.
Take care x

thanks for your replies! On some level I know this has been a really difficult few months and I really need to make sure I am well emotionally and mentally as well as physically so its really helpful to have people confirm this to help counterbalance the inevitable guilt (its a really small organisation I work for) and perceived pressure to go back to work. I have spoken to my chair of trustees (who is a lovely person), she listened to everything I said about needing some time to come to terms with things then in the next breath asked me what is my plan for returning, would I need a phased return or would  I come straight back?! Maybe she didn’t mean it to sound that way but I felt really pressured to give a date and time and be all fit and well. My friend reminded me that your boss, however lovely a person, has a priority to get things running smoothly again at work so is going to ask things like that, and that I shouldn’t get upset by it but need to follow my instinct about not being ready yet.

Anyway, enough rambling, just wanted to say thanks for replies and support xx

Hi I was dx 2 years ago next Saturday. Grade 3, 8cm tumour, 26 lymph nodes affected, er+. Had mx, chemo for 6 months which I worked through (albeit reduced hours from home). Then made redundant during chemo! Been off work since April 2015, had radiotherapy and several ops and going to start new job on Wednesday. It’s taken the last 6 months of counselling, hospices group therapy and complimentary therapy to get my head together, although body healed quicker. Don’t rush it x

Thank you Bondgirl, but you must be confusing me with someone else. I’m in HR not a nurse!!!

Hi Riversidedawn, you are right was thinking of Runningfree sorry

Good luck for tomorrow Runningfree. It would be great to know how you get on. Although I’m still a while off any sort of return, I’m hoping for a phased return and it would be good to know how it works out for you. Our teens have become far too used to me being around - all got to a head when I roared “I’m not off work on holiday!!” Good luck xx

Hi all, gosh these posts take me back to 2014 when i attempted to return to my much loved job. Detailed occ health review and plan, and failure of my manager to stick to the recomnendations for assisting the management of my return to work and management of fatugue lead to my resugning from that post. I have not yet returned to full time work, and this year have had anither rollercoaster with my health, and health of my parents. I have been seeing my GP and my last appt i explained all and requested the GP * helped me look after me because at times i recognised i was not very good at doung this* She did sign me off for a period of time following horrendous infection that required 5 days of inpatient IV antibiotics, but this treatment really knocked me back. Look after yourself, you are important x x

I hope your first day back has gone well Runningfree. I shall see you as a pioneer of back to work! Xx

That sounds positive and I hope day 2 goes well. The last time I was off most of the first week was taken up with emails! Xx

Nooo. At what point does NHS mail break? I think there’s been an update, so I shall hopefully be unable to log on!! Xx

hi runningfree & janey,
when I went back to work I just deleted my email backlog - a lot easier!
ann x

Now that sounds a good idea but I guess I may get sacked!!! Xx

I went back Tuesday 12 months of typical NHS inbox awaited me. I didnt delete but I did create a new folder and drag anything apart from the last couple of weeks into it and left it all in there unread. I then just had a quick shufty at policy folders on the intranet to see if any had been updated, no way was I trawlling through thousands of emails the way I see it is return to works and keep in touch calls or meetings (while you are off) are to ensure they tell you of any major changes or to remind them they need to on your return and policy folders should mop up the rest.

Hmmm … I’ve been trying to get a jeep in touch call or meeting with my manager and no luck so far!! However, lovely colleagues (and the local news!) so far keeping me up to date on changes. JenJen I shall adopt same approach for sorting I think! Enjoy those break days and rest - or run! Xx

Thanks LL. Maybe I’ve been going wrong asking for jeep rather than keep in touch! I did have a text today to say he will try and call today! I do feel secure in role thankfully but could do with a bit of consideration!! Xx

Hmmm further text at 5.30 to say too busy today and will try and call me tomorrow! Xx

Hi Runningfree. I’m just wondering how you are doing and if the return to work is going well? Xx

Amazing and brilliant for half marathon! I’m starting to plan my return for the new year and hoping the colleague acting up for me will be allowed to carry on and cover for me during a phased return. I am hoping to use leave to drop a day each week for a while. My manager isn’t being terribly proactive so I think the plan is over to me. I’ve had a phased return before,which went out the window quite quickly, but this time I’m hoping to be more boundaried lol! Make sure you look after you xx