anyone working while having chemo?

i went back to work on day 5 of my first fec cycle. my employer was originally very supportive as were my girls at work. i have now had my head shaved and i think the mood has shifted a little since there is now a visual symptom (ie my hairless head) which there were none of before. I had a picc line in for the treatments, which the nurse did very low, almost next to my elbow! so its on view unless i make sure i’m covered up, which i do. I work in a big hotel, head housekeeper. so not usually on view to many guests. no one has actually said anything and ive only done 2 days in my wig, maybe i just feel different? My employer said i could do whatever i could manage but then the other day he said we could manage if i wanted to stay at home, which i took as a nudge out the door!
I can’t not go to work because i dont think i will survive on basic sick pay, in fact i dont even know how much it is, i used all my holidays when i had my mastectomy in march. i have heard that there are some benefits that can be claimed but i’m not sure what or where to seek this out.
my partner works part time and has had the odd extra shift but i cant see us surviving if i dont continue to work. I dont know whether to just pack in until october when all the treatment has finished or just muddle on regardless and hope i dont get sick.
anyone else in the same boat?
angie xx

Hi Angie ,ssp is £86.70 a week .If you look on the macmillan site there is a section on benefits and you can phone there helpline as they have benefit advisors they will point you in the right direction.take care meggy x

Hi Angie
I worked through having chemo last year, so it is doable as long as you feel up to it. I was lucky in that my se’s were manageable for me, although I know several ladies who just wouldnt have been able to go to work, even if they had wanted to. I think you just have to be sure that you are up to it and not pushing yourself too hard. I had my chemo on a Thursday, so had the Thurs & Fri and all the following week off sick. I then went into work for the rest of the 3 weeks until my next chemo session. I was also lucky in that I work in a very small office and most of the time dont really come into contact with others much. You have to be careful when your blood count drops that you dont put yourself at risk of infection.
Good luck with it all, I hope you manage to find a way through it.
Joan xx

Hi Angie…I worked through chemo last year and as Joan says it was ‘doable’. Chemo was Tuesday so I had Weds off, worked a couple of hours Thurs and Fri (School Office Manager) and every day until next chemo except ‘nadir’ days when white blood cell count was likely to be at its lowest. Had 6 x FEC-T and took 25 days sick off in total. Was hospitalised between chemo 4 and 5 with unknown infection!
Looking back, I guess you ‘live in the moment’ and although I felt pretty much OK (lots of SEs, but nothing I couldn’t manage) in reality some days my head was a total fog, my whole body ached and towards the end of chemo the cumulative effect really took hold! It’s only now that I realise how slow I had become, i.e. 5 minutes to walk across the playground which now takes me 30 seconds!!
I suppose what I am trying to say is listen to your body…see how it feels for you, ask your employer how flexible they can be and to agree that they may need to make reasonable adjustments to support you working through treatment. I wouldn’t have done anything differently as a level of ‘normality’ was crucial for me.
On the headgear front…I work in a very public area and wore fitted chemo hats with pretty hairbands round them. The kids would come to see what I was wearing everyday!! My wig was too big and I was always scared of it flying off…only wore it twice!
All the best for the rest of your treatment and whatever you decide on the work front…this time next year you will be writing a post like this? Take care x

Hi I worked all the way thro chemo ,arranged appointments for Friday so had the weekend off ,it was doable , just had loads of cream crackers when nausea came on it worked for me , there was a couple of days left at 3 pm instead of 4 pm my finishing time .i think by working it helped me have a sence of normality of sorts ,my employers were fantastic and supported me in every way they could .i also arranged rads for after work again managed to work all the way thro .good luck

Hello. I also worked through chemo. Chemo day was Thursday and usually I was off for the following 4 working days. I worked through rads too ( Had in primary site and in my back a year later as I am a secondary girl). Work helped to keep some “normality” as Kathleen said and also prevent me of thinking all day same and same rubbish…
I had great colleagues that were very supportive. Towards the end of chemo/ rads felt more tired and had a week off. Also 3 weeks off after breast surgery.
My advise: listen to your body and be at work only if you find it helpful. If work place very stressful and unsupportive then use sick leave etc.
Take care and all the best with your treatment

I work in healthcare, doing home visits. I realized that some people do manage to work through, and I didn’t want to give up but found I was anxious about how I’d cope, because we have to schedule appointments and really “be there” for our patients. It is hardly a job you can do at your own pace, and go home if you feel you need to, without screwing everything up. Another girl was booked off sick for a surgery so we would already be short staffed. Although people would have been kind on the surface, and for sure would have said it was ok to “do what you can do”, I know I would have been beating myself up if I felt I was underperforming.

So I asked my oncologist for advice, and she assured me that if it were her, she would have no hesitation in taking the time off and concentrating on her own health. It was a relief to be “given permission” - like mum writing a note to miss school!, but I was still a little horrified to find she had signed me off for a whole year from starting chemo (I had already been off for 5 weeks, with two surgeries!).

I should finish rads after the first week of August, and she has agreed to review my status in October. I’d certainly like to go back earlier if I feel fit, but I wish I could know in advance how I will be. It’s actually quite difficult to go back early if you have a doctor’s note saying you are not fit. Then what if I go back and find I cannot cope?

I feel I have the emotional constitution of a jellyfish right now, and am fearful of situations that never worried me before …

I worked through chemo as I am a self employed consultant and wanted to see contract through. Because of the 3hr commute I did some days at home but managed 2 days a week in the office. I also worked through radiotheraphy which I actually found harder due to the commute. Work were very good & I listened to my body. It kept me sane & gave me a routine. Always wore my wig but mainly bacause I had lots of meetings with banks & auditors.

you will know best what works for you.
s x

hi all
thankyou so much for your comments. i had a good day today, like you say, its the normality that keeps me going, i feel like i have two lives, the normal one and the sick one. ive had a couple of early days too, doing 4 days on a normal week, when i would do 5 and just getting a bit of extra rest.
i think i will continue, it seems to work so far, unless i get ill of course but i’ll cross that bridge if i come to it.
I think also, i stressed myself out so much about how i was going to manage financially that i thought i had no choice, when in fact i do, and i have chosen to go to work. that makes a difference to me.
got used to the wig now, 2nd whole day at work with no mishaps
once again, thanks girls.
angie xx