Has anyone changed career after treatment

Hi everyone

I just was wondering if anyone had a complete change of career after having breast cancer. It is certainly a time to reflect on life and I can imagine many people make big changes. I have been in a job I hate for many years and have stuck at it because of all the usual reasons, financial security, frightened of change etc. I owe it to myself now to do something I want to do with the rest of my life, so I would love to hear from others about any changes made either career or otherwise!


Hi there, I changed - I took up running (beleive it or not - when able) and hated my job too - so we up’d sticks and moved to France. Taken on an old farm house - partially renovted, a gite, and 4 acres - bought lots of animals, goats, llamas and now two dogs…!! madness, but would not swap it for the world - well, not for a life of living where we did and going up to London on SWT every day…
Go for it I say…

I’m retraining as a web designer/developer and will be working with my OH in his business. He started the business 6 weeks before I was diagnosed and put everything on hold to spend as much time as possible supporting me through the treatment. I took a new job as a PA at the beginning of the year but it wasn’t for me, so I decided to go down my own route (I had thought about it before I was ill as we were doing a bit of property development at that time, having moved to Scotland from London with no jobs). I’ve done a few one day courses and am going to do my own website to get my skills up, I’m also looking for a small charity project I can do voluntarily for experience.

The employers I went to at the beginning of the year have fallen foul of the Disability Act with regards to my employment and I have a grievance meeting with them this week. I’ve been advised by an employment expert to try and get some compensation from them as I took the job in good faith and what happened while I was there has affected my confidence. One of the reasons I am retraining is to get my confidence back up, also after this recent employment experience I can’t cope with interviews.

Hi Everyone,

Has anyone thought of working in Hospitals as Nurses or Care assistants. The lovely ladies on here with our knowledge and experiences could really make a difference. I dont know about anybody else but half of the nurses I came across were excellent but the other half were terrible, really rude and couldnt care less. I know it cant be the easiest job in the world but common courtesy costs nothing.
what does anyone else think.
love Andrea x

Hi Ladies, I am currently in a job that i was about to leave when I was diagnosed. I am so angry all the time !! When i am at work i end up in tears and in despair and cannot cope but need the money. i think it is time for a rethink of career as life is to short to be doing a job you hate. It is good to see that it can be done ! I work with people with learning difficulties but spend more time doing paperwork than hands on. i have always liked a caring role but my current job does not satify that.
It is hard to think of what to do instead. How did you other ladies decide on your alternative career path even with financial considerations ?

Hi Rachy

I too am desperate to get out of my job. I travel 2 hours each way and am totally exhausted just by that. I think having BC has given me a huge wake up call - I’m not suggesting that my stress at worked caused BC,but I have no doubt that it didn’t help. The money is the biggest dilemma, however, since I have been off work, I have spent very little and have been far more careful with spending. Its funny how when you have an income, you feel duty bound to spend it!! I feel now that if I dont change jobs, I only have myself to blame if I get ill again. I too am in the health industry but feel like moving into the complimentary therapies, like nutritional therapy - am seriously looking into it!


Hi Cathy,
Lots of Schools and Colleges do mini courses on things like complimentary therapies, usually they are free or pretty cheap. I fancy doing one myself. Its worth while looking into it, I agree that life is too short to stay in a job that is making you unhappy.
lots of love Andrea x

You might be able to get some funding. I’m in Scotland and have an Individual Learning Account (ILA), I found a link to this from the Learn Direct website. You can get £200 a year if your income is 14k or under, up to 18k you can get £100. The criteria for using the money is that you have to spend it on courses in the ILA directory, but I have found some web courses through this. You can’t spend it all on one course though and you have to pay £10 towards the cost of each course.

I would check this out, it’s one of those things they don’t like telling you about!

Cheers Cherub,

I,ll look into that. love Andrea x

I’m right out of what I was doing when diagnosed - and that was only six weeks ago. University teaching and a lot of trivial academic fuss. I just stopped and now can’t imagine what I did all day that took up so much time and provided so little satisfaction. I’m still in the cyber-loop & flick through the emails every day with a sense of hilarious disbelief. I lived like this? The tedium.

I live with OH & son in a cottage outside Helsinki - his salary can stretch (rather thinly) to cover our needs and I’m going to look around for some undemanding translation or something I can do from home, while continuing research & writing on my own terms. I love that part of the old-life and realise that, at bottom, I have no ambition for material goodies. Good food, occasional travel, old clothes and hair as long and untended as chemo allows. It’s utterly pointless to wriggle around in a muddy pond for the sake of things you’re supposed to want - when you don’t.

How I agree with you Emelle - I have a cosy home and am lucky enough to have no mortgage. I can’t really be bothered with shopping and don’t buy stuff I don’t need any more; I also garden, grow vegetables and recycle. I have been in a wonderful relationship for 24 years now and am very content with things despite having had cancer. I can’t actually think of one material thing I really want at the moment. The only thing would be a new bathroom as the one in my house is over 40 years old and needs to be replaced as part of the maintenance of the building. Other than that I just want to earn enough money to cover all our expenses and have a few nice holidays and treats I can appreciate. I live by the sea and have a beautiful landscape on my doorstep which I can experience for free.

I will also be working from home and like the peace to be honest; I can also organise my days to suit myself.

Hi everyone,

Its amazing at how you waste money when you have it, isnt it? For the past few weeks, I have had very little coming in and was in a right panic about what we should do. I have spent very little and actually feel much better for not spending. We used to eat out a lot, mainly because no time for cooking/shopping. Now I am at home, I am cooking healthy meals and actually enjoying doing so! I am definitely going to stop what I was doing and have a long and serious think about my next move.

I’ve been off work for 4 years now after having a baby and during that time I was diagnosed with BC and then with secondaries a year and a half later. Now that my little boy is due to start school soon I’ve been thinking about working again, only this time I want it to be completely stress free, just a ‘little job’ where I can do a few hours a day, have a laugh with colleagues and not bring any work or pressure home with me! I loved my job previously, I worked in IT, and was very proud of what I achieved and what I was earning but it all seems so pointless now… something at Sainsburys would suit me fine now!

Hi, I agree with every one who has written here,
Im about to have chemo 5, and have been with the same company for 17 yes, 17 years! even though they are great and supportive, I feel I have given my all to them.
Yes it has been stressful at times(Clinical trial Co-ordinating)and I have a nurse and Aromatherapy background.I feel Ive -given- a lot of myself over the years and long to work with nature, animals, books or art. We, OH and I plan to move from London to Wales in 2008 autumn or 2009 spring, and be near long life friends, the sea and easy reach woodlands.
Living within our means and having a dog. Slowing down and smelling the roses. This is my 2nd cancer 1st 18yrs ago with Hodgkins, so at 46yrs its time.

Follow your dreams xxxxxxx


i had a complete career change because of my breast cancer dx.

i used to be a car valeter, i had been doing the same job for 20years,
i was a supervisior/valeter when i got dx in October 2005.

i was off work for over a year while having my chemo / rads.

But when i felt i could return part time, as i was too tired to work fulltime,
my employeer said no, fulltime or nothing.
As my job involved heavy manual work, i could not return to it.
So i had to leave that company.
luckerly for me i was offered a job in an office,with their sister company doing admin stuff.

so it worked out ok in the end,infact for the first time in my life, i get to sit in a lovely clean office
and i dress smart & use make-up for work.

Another major thing for me is my hours i started off doing a couple of hours 4 days a week,
and now do 4 hours 5 days a week.
my old job i was working a 45 hour week plus alot of overtime.

My money is hell of alot less now than it was but i enjoy my life more these days,
and i prefer time with my family to being stuck at work away from them.
yes i would like more money, i’m sure we all would.
However i am very happy with my life.

kim xx

Hi Kim

Sounds like you have done well, Car valeting sounds like really hard work to me especially all the hours you did! The whole point to living is being happy. Extra money does not equal extra happiness. We need to pay the bills and have a bit left over for some fun, but whats the point working yourself to exhaustion so you are too tired to enjoy anything? It’s good to hear of positive stories!


Hi Cathy,

I went back to my job for 3 days and left. I got another job whilst still on sick leave, handed my notice in on my return and had 6 weeks annual leave to take before starting my new job. It is similar to what I was doing before but I am in a much better place. I am less stressed, can walk into work and am working with people who appreciate me and my abilities. Don’t settle for second best and make that move. You have nothing to lose.

Kat x

I always worked in accounting, in one form or another, but have spent much of the past 10 years retraining for computing (preferably programming) whilst temping. I eventually did an OU degree as other courses didn’t seem to be enough. In that time I also had two kids and BC last year.

Now I find myself in the position where I my kids have various health problems which might take another 6 mths to get through. I desperately need to be working for my own mental health, but can only manage 3 days a week 9:30 to 5 or similar. There are no part time temp positions to be had through agencies (believe me I’ve tried since my sons were born) and I’ve just missed out on a 3 day a week maternity cover.

Most positions I see in the paper are really badly paid/below the skill level I usually work at.

I can’t take the stress of moving into computing so have a degree I’ve never used, part time computing positions are much rarer and I’m still stuck in accounting. l feel exhausted already but I’m sure it’s more depression related than anything else.

I’m wondering whether I’ll have a career ever again.


I feel that I need a change but don’t know what.I am a manager for a large supermarket and have worked for them for 19 years.The support has been fantastic and have been told I can have a phased return back which is common any way.My problem is do I want to spend the rest of my life in retail but it is secure, with a good pension and salary.Will decide nearer the time I suppose

I changed from being a primary teacher.After the end of treatment (chemo + radio) I went back -on supply- for a couple of weeks just to keep my hand in. I realised then that I had moved on mentally and no longer felt connected to teaching. I looked around and found a job with the DWP. Lots less money but a warm and friendly office to work in. There are still lots of targets to be met and annoying ,petty rules etc but I enjoy the work and can leave the work behind when I leave the building.
Im glad I made the change.