Any other teachers or teaching assistants with BC...

Hi, I thought I would begin a teacher thread as I have met many on various forums. I have bc plus bone mets and am hoping to return to work soon. I think I shall have a battle with my school to get a sensible phased return.
Also perhaps any tips for getting through the hectic school day. I am a deputy head, just took the role on on 2011/12. Was diagnosed July 2012, I didnt quite make the year :frowning:
Anyway I want to return to prove I to myself I can and need a sense of normality in my life. If I decide its too much I will look to changing my role. My head creates a very stressful environment, unnecessarily in my opinion!
Look forward to meeting any fellow teachers or tas
Mel xxx


I am an HLTA in a small primary school. I cover all the teachers’ PPA and management time. This usually involves teaching classes by myself 4 days a week, but at the moment I’m supporting half the week in Y5/6 class doing SATs boosters. I am also responsible for the school library and website and am ICT support.

I had a recall from a routine mammo back in Jan 2012. WLE & SNB Feb. Chemo offered but declined - I was borderline for benefit from it so they made me decide! I had 3 weeks of Rads finishing on 14 May last year. I am on Zoladex implants and Tamoxifen - both of which have tiredness as potential side effects. I returned to school on 11th June on a phased return, although my GP wanted me to wait another week, but I wanted to start straight back at the start of the last half term.

My HT was very supportive and let me set the pace. I did Tues and Thurs for the 1st two weeks, Mon, Wed & Fri for the next two weeks, then Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri for 2 weeks then full time for last week before having the 6 week summer hol to recover. I was excused staff meetings and playground duty until Oct half term and my PPA is Fri afternoons, so I can go home if I’m tired. (I’ve only taken advantage of that twice - and one of those was for a doc’s appointment! I don’t want to take the **** having just had 4 months off!)

I had to go to Warwick to see occ health about phased return and they said they would have suggested a similar timescale for phased return if I’d not come up with it already!

I know how hard it is for you teachers. There’s no going back gently is there? - especially if you’re DH as well. Can’t exactly sit quietly and break yourself in slowly, drinking coffee and reading a few emails etc?! :slight_smile:

I hope you manage to sort something out and that your HT is gentle with you. Don’t overdo it. Lear to say “No” (though I’m a fine one to talk! :slight_smile: )

Hi JCJ, you seemnto be doing lots in a small primary school. I am about to sort out a phased return of some kind. I am not sure if full days or spilt up to half days would be best. Part of me things half days and building up my hours thst way would be best.
I learnt to say no a very long time ago and shall continue to do so in the most respectful way.
Kind regards
Mel xxx

Hi buffy
I run a degree programme in an FE college and know all too well the stress of delivering classes, juggling timetables, staff meetings paperwork sorting out student worries and problems and I can’t even begin to think about returning to all that too soon. My colleagues keep telling me to stay away as long as I can (financially) and I know they will look after my students so I am going to take their advice.
I had a mastectomy in march, I have a skin expander in and had my first fill on Monday. Im in a lot of pain and also very emotional and can’t imagine standing in front of a class and delivering a lesson. The thought of breaking down or not having the energy to “perform” would be devastating. I really believe we need to be on our top form.
I first had treatment 5 years ago for DCIS with a WLI followed by 5 weeks of radiotherapy and was working for the same college, they let me have as much time off as I needed and the timing was similar to this so I ended up going back during the summer break which allowed me to get the feel for the place again, get in touch with colleagues and prepare for the next term. I was hoping to go back in May but I don’t think I will manage it.
We need to kind to ourselves as teaching takes so much out of you, make sure you are ready.


I am a secondary school teacher. (Drama dahling!). I was diagnosed November 30th So far Ive had 6 lots of chemo. I get a scan tomorrow to see how things are going then meet the surgeons on Monday. After surgery there’s radiotherapy. I’m hoping for a phased return in September.

I was in the throes of the school production “Annie” which has been postponed until I get back. I love stress!!!


Hi everyone. I am hoping to return in about a month or so. I cant decide whether half days are best and building up the hours or full days and having a day off inbetween to recover. I think half days building up my hours is probably going to be best. I can avoid staff neetings if I start this way. OH suggested the 1st week 2 days,:then 3 days for 3 weeks building up if I can. I have a formal meeting to attend before this happens, I am unsure why a back to work meeting needs to be formal but thats the way my school seem to do things. The hr lady helpfully was telling me to think about retirement at my informal meeting back in October! I have since had chemo which has shrunk my lump for now so I want to get on with life as far as possible.
Just had new furniture delivered today. Ive tired myself out reorganising the lounge back in some sort of order. I have definately overdone things and hace come in bedroom for a lie down. :frowning:
This is what worries me about returning to work.
Mel xx


Hi I am a secondary teacher I had my operation over the Xmas holidays so only missed a week off work. I worked all through radiotherapy just going in later after my appointment or finishing earlier to go to an appointment which I did for 3 weeks. In all had 8 days off work. I was lucky in that I didn’t have side effects from radiotherapy and I think was kept so busy at work it really helped me to take my mind off it all and pretend I was “normal”. Good luck to you all in your return.

I teach MFL in a prep school (years 3 -8) and have just been diagnosed. Waiting for CT scan to see if it’s chemo before or after surgery. Really want to work as much as I can but have had conflicting advice about being in a school environment. Also it’s impossible to predict how I’ll feel during treatment. Anyone with any experience with this??? School being fantastic, I really miss the children!

I teach a mixed Year3/Year 4 class in a primary school. My primary diagnosis was in March 2008 which was followed by right mastectomy, chemo, radiotherapy and ld flap recon. I had time off for surgeries and worked through chemo which was always on a Wed so I would be of Wed, Thur, Fri then back to work until next treatment. This was my choice and school supported my choices.
October 2012 secondary diagnosis - bone mets - fractured ribs ouch. Treatment this time was 6x zometa then the new everolimus / exemestane tablet combo. I went off sick as it hit me differently from my primary dx. This time apart from the rib pain it was a massive mental blow. I returned to work 3 weeks ago on a phased return which ends next week. I still have time off for appointments as I have to go to Christies monthly to see onc as my drugs are funded through the cancer fund. I am sooooooo tired - this week I did 2 full days and 3 mornings. I wonder how I will cope full time but will wait and see. School are fantastic and will try to accommodate me in any way. I know I may consider part time in the future but will wait and see.
Hope you all have a good weekend
Karen xx

Hi ladies
…would love some support and adivce
I am a secondary school teacher and Head of Department in a massive school in Bradford. I have been off since February. I have had a MX of th left breast. I am currently half way through my 6 cycles of chemo and am due to have radiotherapy and 5 years of hormone treatment after that.

I have to say that whilst I am missing work, I am dreading the whole returning back to work thing. I am hoping to return in October for financial reasons mainly. I’m hoping to be on a phased return until XMas (is that too long, would it be allowed) to be full time January, which would be 11 months from finishing work for treatment.

Things that worry me are how to organise my phased return and what if its too early? I had long hair and have chosen not to wear a wig, so my hair may not have grown back very much at all, so all the questions from the students and how to tackle those. I also worry about managers/collegues thinking you are still ill or worse still think I are completely recovered, the general pressures of work and how you cant just take a break when you need to.

Being a HoD, I’ve tried to stay in touch with school, especially as there has been a curriculum review. I have also learnt that they are finally going to appoint me a longed for additional teacher for my department, but I wont be there to be part of the interview process.

I know that BC and its treatment is horrid and stressful for everyone, but teaching and recovering from BC fills me with dread. My school has just come out of special measures and you have to be constantly at the top of your game. I put in crazy hours previous to my cancer and worry that I wont be up to it when I return and maintain the standards expected. Also with teaching, you are either on it or not.

I am glad you have started this thread, so we can voice these concerns and perhaps offer support to each other. I would appreciate any thoughts you may have about my worries.

Thanks in advance
XX Dianne XX

While my thoughts and hugs go to everyone affected in whatever way, by this ***** thing, I can really empathise with those who teach. I don’t have experience yet with going back to work - I’m waiting for my op on the 13th May - I just want to say that I understand the feelings of not being at work - the wanting to get back - and the worry of not being fit enough and of people’s perception of our fitness to work! . I too am glad this thread is here - I’d be really happy to talk to any teachers who are in this position. x

Hi teachy folk, I am a secondary teacher/HOD who has had 3 ops, 7 months chemo, rads and on 5 years of tablets and back at work full time, so if I can help or just sympathise please help. I am down the track a bit from some of you, so will try to recall it. I had 10 months off work, mainly due to my long chemo as you cannot go into a school while on it, too many bugs and I just wouldn’t have managed anyway. My school just did what the docs said but halved my pay after 6 months. Sadly half pay is not what it sounds and one November my pay was 8.5 days as they said there were only 17 working days that month. You get half of the working days apparently, who knew that? Hospital wouldn’t let me go back until 3 weeks after rads ended. I had a formal meeting which was nice as I was not even allowed to visit while off sick. They let me say what I wanted to do, which was to go back a couple of days before the next holiday. This worked really well as I was totally shattered but only struggled for a few days before having another break. Kids got used to me but not enough time for interrogation and staff too. First day I was struggling not to cry from the wave of sympathy and ‘are you about to kick the bucket comments’. Not literally but that’s all i could hear. After the holiday I was treated like I had never been away, despite the huge weight gain from steroids, etc and very short hair. I did not go back until I had a pixie cut (dye it, it looks much thicker quickly). I was too scared someone would hug me and knock a wig off. I teach a core subject so had been long-term covered so when I went back they were still there, in my room, my tutor group.I was upset at things I wasn’t allowed to have back. I was given revision, one to one and groups which was perfect, not sure i would have managed whole classes and lesson planning. I had to go full time to get full pay but they gave me more free hours. Used to almost fall asleep driving home. i think the hardest part was getting used to not laying on the sofa. School chairs and walking round classes are tougher than you think so I would say build up your activity and standing before you go back.I just laid low and got on with my job and didn’t volunteer to do anything extra at all, got reduced duties, own room, no carrying. It all helped and I love being back and a lot of new people don’t even know. Getting back to school seemed to tell me that I was better and could hope, something staying at home didn’t. BTW you are covered by the disability act for life if you have a cancer dx, so use it. It means no-one can be treated better than you at work even if you have to be given better treatment than anyone else. Use it, without it I would be in 8 different teaching rooms a week and carrying books in my operated arm and as you know you cannot carry anything heavy in that arm or you risk lymphoedema. Just one more thing, when you get called by the benefit dept do go. i was called for a back to work interview, told them I was on sick leave for bc, told them I had a job and they still gave me £150 to help me restart work :slight_smile: best wishes to you all Lily x

Diane, I totally understand where you are coming from. I popped into school a couple of weeks ago and one of the children said 'oh youve had your haircut like Jessie J. Bless. I am terrified I wont cope and am working out a phased return with the gp tomorrow and then with the schook hopefully on Thur with the union. As usual these things are stressful and my school hr have made things complicated by mentioning ill health retirement and dismassal through capability at an informal meeting prior to my chemo back in Oct as well as a phased return. Fills me with confidence. The school has rarely been in touch and I am concerned that maybe I got the wrong end of the stick at the informal meeting. Oh well wish me luck at my formal meeying on Thursday!!! Dreading it. Feel very stressed aboug it. Maybe it will be fine. My union rep is great and his wife has had bc so he understands more than most.
I let you know how it goes. xxx

Buffy xx


I am a year 1/2 teacher and curriculum manager. I was diagnosed on the 25th April and just had MRI today so at the beginning of my BC journey. My mum was diagnosed a month earlier and had mx 2 weeks ago. So far people have been ok. Initially I only told the head, dp , slt and those I immediately work with.
However there was a lot of speculation as to why I was having time off (appointments only) I had been to look round several schools and had even applied for DH post locally. In the end I asked the head to tell everyone, not because I want anything from them but to stop the gossip and also to make sure they all check themselves.
The only negative thing that happened was last week when my DH hinted at changing my PPA today to cover my appointment this afternoon, I actually walked off as I wasn’t in a good place last week. I then saw the head and he was fine about me having my PPA at home this morning followed by hospital this afternoon.
I know it is extremely tricky to organise cover for classes and I hate being off but we all need to be selfish(a thing we aren’t usually, else we wouldn’t be teachers/TAs) and look after ourselves.

Sam (Northants) x

I get my op date tomorrow and I want to give head some idea of time I will need off. How long off work has anyone had off following a lumpectomy and nodes removal?
Realised today I am treading water. Usually I am so organised but I have paperwork everywhere and the thought of sitting down planning lessons when all this is bubbling around my head is near impossible. ALl I can say is I am currently there in body and that’s it.

Sam x

Hi I’m a Director of Music in an independent boarding school so weekends too!!! Nightmare timing - I had my lumpectomy and nodes done on 30/4 and have taken the whole of May off! I’m hoping to go back after may half term, but I do have 3 weeks of radiotherapy so I may have to be part time!!! It’s really hard being a teacher as you feel so guilty. My head has been so supportive and I don’t feel like I have to rush things :slight_smile:

Hello to all of you ladies in education, I thought I would join into this thread as I am an education adviser working for a large local authority. I had my WLE and SNB done at the beginning of March , had a haematoma following surgery which delayed rads so only half way through that at the moment. my radiographer told me last week that I would need 4 weeks off after rads to recover fully before I returned to work. That will take it to about 4 months off in total.
Everyone in education knows how stressful a job we do and I have decided that my health needs to take a priority this time. My Head of Service has been very supportive of me taking time to recover fully. I know as soon as I am back I will be in the thick of Ofsted inspections again and need to be at the topmy game to keep up with all of it. I know I don’t have to stand in front of a class very day but the pressure is still immense. Actually think I might like to change career after all of this. It makes you re evaluate what you wFrom from life. Good luck with recovery Twizzle and with your op Sam. Keep us posted Buffy

Hi there, I had a very good meeting with the head, hr and my union. A sensible phased return has been agreed and I should be able to start after hald term. I am so concerned I wont cope, I know the last thing the schook needs is for me to go off sick again. I have been visiting a friend for 3 days came back yesterday and have been exhausted today. At least I will have the summer hols to recover as well. I know what you mean about having a career change. The teaching profession has become very stressful and I dont think I need additional stress. I shall return and see how I get on.
Take care,
Buffy xx