Going back to work

Going back to work

Going back to work Hi there,
I’m having my last chemo tommorow (Horrah!!!), and am not having any rads, just hormone theraphy next. I would just like to know when did everyone else go back to work??? I was DX end of August last year, and although I havn’t being back in my current role (people management) I have popped in, on several occasions for hour or four, to help out with other things. My boss has being really good in all fairness, and is prepared to be flexable in me returning partime to begin with. But the last few times i’ve popped in, i’ve already had staff coming up to me with “problems”. I have a feeling that when i’m back, all might be “forgotten” in terms of what I’ve just being through, and i’ll be fed to the lions (if you get what I mean!). I’ve said April to my boss, she thought June, which was quite nice to think she wasn’t expecting me back straight away. Anyway, be nice to know how long the rest of you waited.
Cheers, Lisa x

Hi lisa Congratulations on having your last chemo tomorrow.

My advice would be to ease yourself in gently…i was dx in jano4 had lumpectomy, chemo and rad’s now on tamoxifen…i returned to work in nov 04…i’m a nursery nurse in day nursery so had not been allowed to go in at all during treatment…i went back working 3 days a week…i can tell you it was exhausting both mentally and physically
Some people though find returning to work helpful in that it gives them a sense of getting back to ‘‘normal’’.
Don’t push yourself, it will take a few weeks for chemo effects to calm down, also if you are going to be taking tamoxifen this can also cause tiredness.
Listen to your body and don’t rush back if you’ve got doubts.


Hi Karen Congratulations on finishing chemo. However, you must go back gradually and not overtire yourself. And you must tell them if they are putting too much upon you. It’s not like you’re just getting over a cold.

I’m due to start back at school after half tem but I have to have appointment with the occupational therepist first, just to make sure I’m ready. I only work afternoons, but the school is being very careful, for my benefit as well as their own. I will have a staggered return. Thankfully I have a lot of support from everyone at work and a great deputy head supporting me.

All the best for the future.

Safire xx

I was dx May 04, a lumpectomy, 18 weeks of chemotherapy followed by 5 weeks of rads - I returned to work in Jan 05. My work was very understanding - although I didn’t really give my boss much of an option - but his son had had cancer - so he was a tad more sympathetic than he might have been.

Anyway - our return to work policy for people like me was 1 day per week - increasing by 1 day per week until you reach full time. But they weren’t full days. So - something like:

Wk 1: 2 mornings
Wk 2: 4 mornings
Wk 3: 1 full day and 4 mornings
Wk 4: 3 full days and 2 mornings
Wk 5: 5 full days

Although - because I work away - Wk 4 was actually 4 full days - and actually I stopped at 4 days/week and extended that pattern for 1 month. Until I realised I was doing full-time in 4 days - not a good plan.

As Safire says - it’s important not to go back too soon and too hard.

I was warned how tired I would be - and I was - but this phased return did minimise it I feel.

Hope that helps.


Thanks for your replies ladies. My boyfriends parents are taking us on holiday end of March, hopefully that’ll be a nice rest before I start back at work. I’ve decided that at our staff meeting on my return, I might give a little speach, thanking everyone for their support, but remind them it’s being a tough few months and will take me time to get back up to speed. Wether they’ll listen, I don’t know! But i’d like to think I’ve come out a stronger person, and my priorities have changed.

Cheers again, Lisa x

Hi there

I think these days most employers are a bit more sympathetic, looking at your replies.

It is 9 years since my mastectomy, I was off work 7 months. 6 months of chemo. Whilst I was off my existing job had disappeared, so rather than make me redundant they found something else for me which I hated. The supervisor in the office was not very understanding and piled the work on, I am sure it was on purpose to push me out of a job. I did not get phased in part time like people do now, but had to do full time. This was very tiring and I was coming home, having my tea and going straight to bed.

To cut a long story short I eventually took a pay off from the company for which I had to see a solicitor to sign an agreement that I would not go to a tribunal. In hindsight maybe I should have done.
The people I worked with treated me like a lepper. I think nowadays people are more aware about cancer and the effects it has.

Don’t go back to work too soon, think about yourself. I was put on half pay after 6 months so couldn’t afford to be off for much longer.

Get back in there!!! Hi there

You probably do not want to hear this, but I too work in people management and I worked throughout my non chemo weeks over the seven months, I was off 11 weeks following mastectomy and also worked through rads.

I am not a workaholic - far from it - but I do not give into sickness…prior to all this I do not think I had a days sick in the previous three years!!! I feel that I have gained respect from others for not taking advantage - and I would respect others the same way. My work have been brilliant and I got full pay throughout.

I expect to have ten weeks or so following reconstruction but would take more or less as required.

My advice isto get back in there. At the end of the day, you will finish treatment and Cancer will no longer be the centre of your world, it will always be there (in your mind but not elsewhere hopefully), but you cannot expect others to remember that too!!!

We had a party on the last chemo day and we drank champagne and had a great time!!

Live each day and be positive!!!

Jan xxx

i am not one for taking offence but in this instance i do, perhaps things should have been worded differently.
i for one do not and never have taken advantage, i never had time off in the 25years of being in my job.
i had 2 days off before my op and went back after 9 months, i could not have physically done so before that time as i have a very pyhsical job.
i too do not give in to sickness and i would not want anyone to feel that they must get back quick “just to earn respect”
it is in our makeup as to what we can manage so to anyone out there, do it when you feel ready.
it was no picnic having to fill in incap forms after my 6 month pay ran out, in fact it was very distressing.
sharon. x

Sorry if I offended… I did not mean to offend anyone out there, and I certainly did not go back to work to ‘earn respect from others’. I went back because i genuinely felt well enough to do so.

I was merely trying to explain (perhaps not too well) that it was not as bas as all that (for me) and certainly not the picture that those around me had in their heads.

I am amazed by how well everyone gets on with it, and you ladies are no exception…I know the treatments take their toll on all of us in different ways.

Of course, everyone must return to work at their own pace.

Jan x

Look after yourself Hi, I will probably be going back to work some time in March after 7 months off sick. I’m a supervising social worker for a fostering agency and could not have done my job during my treatment. Obviously i come into contact with children at work and this meant there was a risk of infection during chemo. I spend a lot of time out on the road visiting carers and physically could not have done this during treatment. I am just coming to the end of my rads and at present am a bit too sore to drive- the seatbelt would sit right across the irradiated area. Also I could not have coped with the other demands of the job. When I go back to work, I will be going back full time but on “light” duties. I’m a lone parent and I cannot live on a part time salary. I will be taking advantage of the opportunity to reduce my responsibilities for a while. Currently I’m living on a mix of incapacity benefit( what a joke that is!!! I thought the state was supposed to take care of people who have always worked- obviously not) and income protection insurance. All of this stops when I go back to work so I have to go back full time. I work in a really good environment and my colleagues and boss have been great. However, I will go back when I am ready and I will look after myself. I don’t care what other people think of me. I’ve worked in the past when not 100 % but those days are over. You are no better thought of for working when you’re not up to it so why knock yourself out? Go back when you are ready and for the hours that suit you.

still trying I had most of last year off due to my bc. I have actively been looking for work for a couple of months. I lost my business last year. I am taking people to a tribunal, I have to prove that while I was self employed I should still have rights under the DDC. Anyway I had yet another rejection letter this morning. In the meantime I have some agency work which in someways is good as it gives me flexibility to have my herceptin(healthcare at home may not be willing to give treatment in a busy industrial kitchen), take my ex employers to court and to go to the gym hopefully.
If anyone out there knows about the DDC maybe some info could be posted. I know all the general stuff but need specialist advice but cannot afford a lawyer.
Ok I have gone of the line of the topic again.
Best of luck to everyone going back to wotk.

Message for Izzy Hi Izzy

I have been off work since my diagnosis in August last year and plan to return once I’ve finished rads at the begining of May.

I know it’s common to still feel wiped out for a while after rads so I was thinking of asking to ease myself back in gently as your employer does.

The question is, do you know what happens to sick pay?
I have been on full pay for the past six months which has just dropped to half pay and I’ve just claimed Incapacity Benefit to help top it up.

What were your work paying you when you were in your easing in period? I can’t afford to lose my IB and my half pay!



Msg for Lola re pay Hi Lola

I had a letter from my employer last week about pay during the staged return to work. My pay dropped from 100% to 75% after 6 months and my employer stopped paying the SSP part, so instead this part (approx £70) now comes from the state in the form of incapacity benefit. During the staged return I will be paid 100% for the hours I work, and 75% for the hours I don’t work (seen as a continuation of my sick leave), plus still get Incap.benefit. Once I get back up to full hours, obviously the incap.benefit will stop. Do you have a letter from your employer setting out how things work for you or a chapter in your staff manual? After a year, all my pay would stop.


Incapacity Benefit There are limits on how many hours and how much you can earn when you return to work, and still retain incapacity benefit. I can’t remember the figures but you can get the info from the benefits agency.


it depends on the job when talking about going back to work you must bear in mind exactly what any individual does in their job, ie it sounds like you have a desk job which would be far easier to continue with then say mine which involves being on my feet for 8hrs a day and involves a lot of lifting and other physical activities as well as dealing with the general public, none of this would have been helpful whilst having chemotherapy!I have had 11months off work and even now when I return at the end of March,my job will be exhausting.Please do not advise anyone to go back because it will help them ,as I say it depends on the job and no-one should feel they are taking advantage if they decide to let their body and mind heal rather than returning to work in order to gain respect.I do not need my collegues respect I already have it in bucketloads from family and friends simply for having come through this dreadful experience

for jan sorry, meant to say my last post was for jan

I seem to be on my own … my profile will show you all that I too had months of chemo, surgery and rads. I am 38 and it looks like I will also go through a menopause…But still the whole experience has just not been the physical trial that I hear most people describe, I feel so so lucky that for whatever reason I have been able to endure this so well.

Yes, I get my moments, but very few. I know that I will live with this disease, but I hope I can learn from the experience too.

To all of you out there I hope you get your lives back to ‘normal’, I thought that there may be someone who felt as I do - but it seems I am in a minority!!!

Best Wishes Janxx

!st Day back Going back to work tonight.
Starting back with a wee 4 hour shift at a job I had a few years ago. Im going back full time so this is to ease me in gently. Working in the kitchen of a busy Arts venue in the centre of town. At least I will be earning and eating healthily as it is mainly veggie food.
Wish me luck

Hope work goes well for you tonight louise…ease yourself in and don’t expect too much of yourself or let others put on you.

karen x