Chemo whilst working

Hi All,

I am just wondring if any of you guys have been able to work whilst having Chemo?
I spoke to my not so helpful BC nurse about which Chemo I will be having as I mentioned I hear all you ladies talking about FEC and Epi etc. She said I will just be getting EC, they dont do the F one anymore?? Anyhow, reason I ask about working whilst Chemo is my company only pay 4 weeks sick pay, and just before I was dx I was off for a month with Sciatica and used all of my sickness for a year. We have also just bought a house and we didnt think we would need to take critical illness cover on our life insurance this year so we declined(she is 26 and I am 30) so we stupidly didnt think we would need to cover us this year! we have been together 6 years and never once have had any illness/sickness until my Sciatica!

Anyhow, my company have given me 6 weeks extra sick pay which is really nice of them so I was planning on using a few days after my chemo if I am sick and then go back between treatments?

Just wondered if any of you think this is possible?



Hi Lynne,
I am just over cycle 4 of FAC chemo. Whether you can work depends on so many things: what work you do, what chemo you have and how you react. I am a book-keeper and having a fairly aggressive form of Chemo…
I have arranged my Chemo for a Friday so I’d have at least 2 days before I could face work. But in truth the full week after I was very tired and not able for work. At the moment the most I can do is 2 or 3 short days at most on the 2nd and 3rd week. The 3rd week is my best week. I am very lucky that I can dictate my hours. The side effects are different for each person so it is difficult to say yes or no. Mainly I’d advise you not to force yourself too much. Your health is the most important thing at this time. I am living off my savings and hope I can build it up again when I get back to work full time.
Best of luck to you and hope you the best

Dear Lynne

I have been doing what you plan on doing, which is taking the day of chemo off (always Friday) , having the weekend to recover and taking the Monday too as I feel I need the extra day.

I have continued to work as much as possible during my chemos (FEC), but have only had 2 so far, 3rd one on 3rd August. I have been able to get to work for most of the week, but as my company have been so good to me and given me a laptop to work from home, I don’t feel under pressure to go in. The longest I took off was 1 week off after my hair started to go , I was so nervous about going in wearing my wig or scarf but my colleagues have been great.

If you feel like you can go to work then I would recommend it to retain as much normalcy as possible in your life. Fortunately I like my job so that’s a bonus too.

Your company sound really understanding and 6 weeks is a lot of extra if it’s days here and there, so see how you go.

Cecelia. x

Hi Lynne

Everyone is different so you will just have to see how you go. It sounds like you have supportive employers which is a huge bonus.

My ONC was incredibly up beat telling me If I had Chemo on a Friday I would be fine to go back to work on the following Mon. I told my boss and HR Dept this and then proceeded to be really ill for almost all of the time I was on Chemo ( FEC) I did manage to work a little and believe you me I did try as I wasnt getting paid for most of the time I have to take off and daytime television nearly drove me insane!!. Anyway my point is dont have preconceived ideas about it. You will probably sail through it all but in a way I wish I had been warned when I was at your stage that it MIGHT be tough. I would have have prepared differently and wouldnt have felt such a wimp that I was so helpless. My onc has admitted that my experience was about as bad as it gets…

I wish you lots of luck with your treatment.



Hi Lynne,

I think work wise it will definately be a case of ‘suck it and see’ for you as we are all so different. I started E-CMF in May and fully intended to work in between. However, for starters I had accelerated epi so there was only 2 weeks between sessions. In this time there was no way I would’ve felt happy about working, largely due to the dreaded ‘chemo brain’ but also as I was trying to avoid infection as much as poss and my colleagues seem to have permanent coughs and colds!!

I’ve now switched to CMF which I have a whole 3 week break on, hurrah!!! Anyway, I asked the nurses at my chemo day centre what they thought about me maybe being able to return to work in between sessions. Their collective view was as I’m fortunate enough to be in a position where my employers will pay me full pay for the duration of my abscence, I should not go to work. They said that unless I was totally bored at home or absolutely had to work to pay the bills then I was prob best to stay well away. I work with loads of people and the risk of infection is pretty big. I just want to give myself the best opportunity to get through this chemo as smoothly as possible.

Like I say though, I am definately one of the lucky ones when it comes to my employer (I’m in the armed forces) and I know many people who don’t have the luxury of being able to choose whether they will work or not. I have been given some work I can do from home but as yet have been unable to start it as my mind is all over the place at times and I get a really ‘foggy’ head.

I wish you all the best for your treatment.

Take care and be sure to keep us posted,


I have been lucky that I have been able to work a lot from home. The reason that I have not been going to the office on a regular basis is that my journey to work involves a 40 minute train journey and a 15 minute walk into London. My onc banned me from travelling on public transport and now, after 4 FEC, I wouldnt be able to manage the walk both ways. On the odd occasions I have needed to go to a meeting, my company have sent a car both ways. They have been terrific. So as far as I and they are concerned, I am not signed off sick but still working.

I have to say that my concentration is beginning to waver a bit now as I get more fatigued. But however it works out for you, good luck

Sharon x