Going to work after diagnosis

I was diagnosed with breast cancer yesterday and I can’t face work (I’m a teacher). I feel like I’m being a wimp. Has anyone else struggled with work at this point of their diagnosis?

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I couldn’t face putting one step in front of the other or my own children so you are completely normal in how you feel. Today is the worst day of the entire journey. The absolute worst. It only gets easier once you have results and a plan. Personally, I wouldn’t be going into work today unless you feel it will occupy you and you’ll go mad at home. Xx

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Good morning, I managed to go in for 2 days after diagnosis. I just couldn’t concentrate, I’m a Specialist nurse and was worried about making a mistake or blubbering if someone sad anything nice to me. I was diagnosed at the end of February and go back to work on the 24th. Take whatever time you need I’m sure you will be supported. Good luck x

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You’re not a a wimp. You can self certify for 7 days but I’d see your GP next week to get a sick note, I can’t see there will be a problem getting one. Take care of yourself x

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I made the mistake of telling a few people at work that I had been called for second screening thinking that talking about would make me feel less anxious - it didn’t . Then when I was told that it was most probably cancer I couldn’t face going in and having them ask me how it went . Maybe if I’d not told them I might have been ok.I’m a Nurse and have to be able to focus or I would not be safe and it’s not as though you can forget about cancer when you work in a hospital. I did consider going back after a week but kept putting the microwave on without having put the food in first and thought everyone would be safer if I stayed at home.

.In short you aren’t being a wimp take some time try to come to grips with this and work out how you want to handle it as regards if you are going to tell your friends / family about it . Obviously someone at work will need to know but think about if you want everyone there to be aware of it or not. Quite honestly all of that can be exhausting . It’s hard to think of anything positive about being diagnosed with cancer but at least employers do take it seriously. After a day or two when I could face it I also read a huge pile of info that my BCN sent me which helped me to feel better informed - so research / homework .

Be kind to yourself .
Wishing you all the best xx

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I am a teacher too and was also diagnosed yesterday. I rang work on my way home and said I wouldn’t be in, they’ve been brilliant about it. You’re not being a wimp, you need time to process it and being in charge of a class is too much, definitely was for me anyway. I hope you came to the right decision for you.

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Thank you all for the reassurance. Work have been supportive but I’m going to GP tomorrow to get a sick note. The whole experience has been quite surreal so far.

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Hi Yogi1

Diagnosis and then waiting for surgery was the worst time for me. I couldn’t function properly, was really tearful, and my surgery was delayed twice for more tests which added to the anxiety and worry. This was unlike me, I’m usually quite robust. I work with children and families so it wouldn’t have been right to work and not be able to focus properly on my role as could have impacted others. I was signed off for a bit and then used some annual leave and given some compassionate leave so was off for two months until my operation. Once I’d had my lumpectomy I was absolutely fine pretty quickly. I went back to work after two weeks but could have easily gone back before but my employer insisted I take the time for myself to the end of the sick note in place. You’re in the toughest phase, in my opinion. I guarantee you will feel better when you know what is happening and when.

Hope your treatment all goes well. x

Sorry to hear your diagnosis. I’m also a teacher (primary). I was diagnosed in December 2023. I wasn’t expecting anything other than surgery and then radiotherapy, but I’m 6 months down the road and 3 surgeries have happened in that time and I’m likely to now be having chemo. I’ve been working inbetween all the surgeries to preserve sick pay. I wanted to stay off work too and I’ve really struggled with my work load. But as I approach chemo time, I’m glad I’ve got the majority of my sick pay still to use. I asked my head to tell my class and their parents so they were aware of why I kept vanishing. They’ve been really supportive. My head has tried to keep stress from me but as a member of leadership, its been hard to avoid. Happy to help with any specific work questions.

I’ll know more on Tuesday re treatment so I will hopefully calm down a bit then and I’m going to meet my head next week. Fingers crossed lumpectomy and radiotherapy will see me through it. It’s ‘early stage’ apparently.

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Hi, I was diagnosed 16th May had lumpectomy on the 28th and getting result’s on Thursday, I am so anxious. I went back to work on Wednesday and I felt it helped me as I wasn’t totally consumed with it, being a teacher is a whole different thing as you have to interact and that’s where I struggled. You just have to do what feels right for you. Its your journey and you might look back and think I wish I’d done that differently, but who is thinking with a straight minds when your world has been turned upside-down. Wishing you well xx

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I am also a teacher (elementary, part-time, working only Mon-Thurs) and was diagnosed October, 2023. I continued to work throughout chemo and for me, it was the right choice. I could be tired, depressed, feeling ugly with no hair, but once I got to school, the focus of caring for my students overwhelmed all of my negative and sad thoughts! I should divulge, I was stage 1, high grade, triple negative. My mother passed away in February from lymphoma which of course, added to my sadness. But if I had stayed home, every day, my thoughts would have centered on that sadness.
Of course I took sick days on chemo days, but sometimes I would work Friday to replace the missed day.
I am taking this next year off completely to help my dad sort through my mother’s things and focus on family in general and getting healthy. I just had a double mastectomy this week and all pathology has come back clear. I’m so happy to be moving forward. And I hope to get back in the classroom in the fall of 2025.

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I work in the community as a mental health nurse and do part office part home based. I went back to work as the distraction helped. However once I got the plan and had my surgery booked I went off sick and have not been back as starting chemotherapy. Everyone’s different and if you struggle to focus I’d go off sick.

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I was diagnosed with Triple negative in January. I work in education and have not been into work. At first thought I would get on treatment and work. However I started on Chemo and immunotherapy 3weeks on 1 week off.
I was absolutely shattered after my 2nd cycle. I will be having a full mastectomy and lymph nodes removed. End of June. Take it one step at a time.

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I suppose how much time people depends on things like if the wound heals, pain and if the person has a very active job like a teacher or a physical job such as nursing .Another factor is if people need chemo plus radiotherapy which can cause nausea and fatigue etc.Also did you start hormone therapy as this can increase menopausal symptoms and can cause fatigue . Everyone responds differently to treatment and we need to listen to our bodies as we have or as re going through a lot with treatment.

So sorry you are on this journey, wishing you lots of luck 🩷

I am also a Teacher, although currently a none teaching SENCo. I was diagnosed in April 2023 during the Easter holidays. I went back to work after the holiday but kept randomly crying, this wasn’t too bad sitting in my office but would not have worked in the classroom. Take as much time as you need. I went off sick when my chemo started and am only just starting a phased return.

Best wishes x

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I did the random crying thing too @NikiR. Totally get it. But I had to keep leaving my year 6 class to do it. I thought my treatment would be done by 6 months in, but after 3 surgeries they’re still not sure theyve got it all out and if ir when I can start chemo. One thing i am sure of is that whe I start chemo i will stay off work until chemo and radio are over. Hope your phased return goes well. X

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So sorry your treatment isn’t going to plan, I really hope that have it all this time and you get your chemo start date soon.

I also thought my treatment would be done in six months but I tested positive for an ‘ATM’ gene mutation so my plan changed. I was very nervous going back to work after almost a year off but within hours it felt like I’d never been away. I needed a nap as soon as I got home, after only working for two hours so do make sure you take it slowly once you do return.

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Hi yogi1,

When I went to receive my results, I was positive I was going to be told I don’t have breast cancer, but unfortunately they confirmed I do have it and will be needing chemotherapy. I was in a state of shock and knew I couldn’t face the kids the next day. I found out on a Wednesday. I called HR and spoke with her and told her I wasn’t feeling up to coming to work Thursday and Friday but I will be in as normal on Monday. I also said given the situation, it’ll be difficult for me to send in any planning and she agreed and said not to worry. My chemo was to start in 2 weeks from when I found out. This was in the winter.

I didn’t know how to accept my diagnosis; I had a little boy who was only 16 months and I was breastfeeding him. My husband and I agreed that I’ll go to work until my chemo starts as it’s best to stay busy and keep my mind off things. However, come the weekend, I started feeling anxious about going in to work. I started getting very upset about my diagnosis. When I told one of my colleagues about my diagnosis and my plan to continue working until chemo starts, she very politely pointed out that it’s my decision to make, however she recommends spending time with my family and my little one, as once chemo starts I might not have time to enjoy all this and work can wait. It’s what I wanted to do but I just needed to hear someone say it, so I contacted my Breast care nurse who gave me a sick note and emailed send basically saying im not in the right headspace at the moment and I’m actually finding it difficult to come to terms with my diagnosis I’m very glad I did that as leading up to chemo, I was very scared and I would have found it difficult managing my emotions at work with kids and even trying to concentrate in teaching them or even planning lessons.

I’m 7 months in and still off work. I’ve had 6 sessions of chemo, have targeted therapy every 3 weeks, had a lumpectomy in May with some lymph nodes removed and now a mastectomy, which has absolutely broken me. I’m glad I took that time off before my treatment started to be with my family and to just be alone and have time to myself. I’m still not back at work, I don’t know when I will be back, as I also need radiotherapy, but waiting on results to see if there’s any residual disease left.

Be kind to yourself and if you have children or a partner, spend some time with them before chemo starts or even do some things you enjoy by yourself x

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Yes I did. I lasted two weeks as I was patient facing and I couldn’t cope with trying to paint on a smile constantly then having a breakdown in the car when I was travelling between patient visits. Take the time off. If you teach, usually with service behind you, then you are entitled to 6months full pay. and 6 months half pay. It was the best decision my work crew gave me, was to go off and get your head around the hideous diagnosis. You are most certainly not being a wimp. Take care of yourself, work will replace you in a matter of hours, you are just a number to the authority you work for. My line manager was fab, if it was when i was working in education a couple of years ago, they did not care as long as you were in work. Sending you my thoughts and prayers from someone in a similar time situation. Take care of your self and journal your feelings if you can. It upset me too much as i cant have reconstruction and have to go flat. I was devastated. So you dont know what these appointments will throw at you, if you are off, you dont have to worry about asking for leave etc. Take the time off. X

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