Anyone else given up their job or changed career since recovering from bc?

Hi everyone, I’m nearly 3 years post diagnosis from having grade 3, two 4mm tumours and I had cancer in 11 of 17 lymph nodes. I had mastectomy and recon using muscle from my back. Underwent 6 chemos and 4wks of radio and now on tamoxifen for 5 years. Basically I now suffer and live with Lymphodeama in my arm, I manage this by wearing a compression glove and sleeve, massaging it and by seeing a Lymphodeama nurse every so often. I returned to my job about 18mths ago, I reduced my full time hours to just two days a week because my job is fairly physically demanding and I knew I would probably struggle. I initially tried to do the job role as normal which involves climbing in and out of lorries, lifting/opening boxes, driving official vans, etc and by attempting all these things I realised I couldn’t either do them or I made my arm a lot worse to the point I was having to have it heavily bandaged by my specialist to reduce the swelling. Because I have that muscle missing from my back I can’t even attempt to pull myself up into lorries etc its a huge risk, (i work on a freight terminal) I also have to get up at 4.30am to start work at 6am and although its for two days this exhausts me and puts me out of sync, when I’m not at work my arm and my health in general feels so much better. When I work I’m exhausted, teary and because I can’t do the physical aspects of the job they are giving me office work to do that’s really doesn’t exist. I can’t carry on like this forever or even for much longer, even if they could find me office work to do for years to come I have to pass a physical test every year and I just can not do this. I am only 35 and I am so confused about my future, I am seriously considering applying for ill health retirement but have no idea if I would be accepted and I feel like a failure, but I only manage to get by because I’m only in for two days. I would love to hear from anyone else who has had to make a drastic change since bc or due to Lymphodeama, sorry for my ramblings lol. All help appreciated!! Hobo xx

Hi hobo
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Lucy BCC

Hi Hobo, I’m sorry you’re having such a tough time, you are not a failure, look how far you’ve come already. Are you able to contact your bc nurse to see if there is local professional support for you to help work through this. It’s clear the job isn’t working for you at the moment, but they will be able to help figure out if you need physio and help you with forms. I’m sorry I can’t be more help as I’ve been looking for posts about other people who have changed jobs to help shed some light for me. I’ve just finished rads after mx and chemo. I’m trying to work out what to do about my job as I’d only been in a new job for 4 months before I was diagnosed. So I’m going to be starting from scratch again when I return and I’m not sure I want to go through all that stress and work such long hours any more, particularly as I originally changed jobs after 15 years because of the stress/workload. I’m starting a course in a couple of weeks which is designed to help individuals get back to a full life following cancer treatment be it emotional, physical or psycological welbeing. I’m sure there will be something similar near you. It will work out xx

Hello ,I feel like I’m pretty much in the same boat as you ,I’m 42 was diagnosed at 37 had mastectomy ,chemo,rads then had reoccurence at 41 lymph node clearance ,hysterectomy, currently on sick leave and suffering some horrendous side effects which include onset of menopause ,weakened ribs due to double rads,damaged nerve in arm due to surgery (unable to lift arm having physio) lymph oedema and osteoporosis.i have recently spoken to occ health and have been recommended for a redeployment and am waiting for word from hr about what will happen in the future .its an unwanted worry and also feel so confused and considering ill health retirement ,feel like people are less than sympathetic and not really understanding of my ailments and worries . I try put a face on for my children and family but everyday is hard .sorry I can’t be much more help but wanted to let you know you are not alone xx

Hello Josieb, thank you for your comment I can’t tell you how good it feels to see someone has responded, that goes for you aswell Swirly :slight_smile: I’m sorry to hear about both your situations aswell, it really isn’t easy is it. And I can sympathise a little with you Swirly as when I had been diagnosed I had only worked at my job for a year and 10 of those months I was on courses!! So although its nearly 4years on I still feel like the new person at times and it doesn’t help that I’m only 2 days a week. I like the idea of the course you mentioned I shall look into that. And Josieb you sound just like me, can I ask, has your work mentioned what would happen if they can’t redeploy you? For example if you don’t want to be redeployed can you still apply for ill health? I was really upset and frustrated today because although I have explained to occupational health I am unable to do my job role and want to be assessed they have said they don’t need to see me and that in 6 months they expect I will have resumed all my normal duties?? Is my lymph nodes going to grow back? Is the muscle in my back going to grow back? No! And they quoted ‘people these days after treatment generally return to work as normal’ what a sweeping statement!! Like you I feel no one understands, I look ok so I must be ok, but surely we have rights under disability act, this is very ongoing and I will find out as much as I possibly can xx

Yes we do have rights under the disability act and it doesn’t sound like your occ health is very sympathetic . I get so fed up of people telling me how well I look and pretty paranoid . I haven’t been contacted from work / hr yet so going get in contact I think after my oncology app . I need get the ball rolling I lose my half pay in nov so that will be another worry add to the list . I wish these people could spend a day in our shoes ! Keep smiling Jo x