Having off work already.

Hi, I am new here. Diagnosed 2 weeks ago and booked in for mastectomy on 25th June. Multifocal breast cancer with largest tumour only 9mm - grade 2. I am not really taking any of it on a conscious level, but I am on medication for anxiety and depression and I think this is blocking a normal reaction. I haven’t cried or been upset, but I have pains everywhere and the fatigue is so bad I cannot get up in the mornings. Probably because I wake up twice or three times throughout the night just thinking about it. My GP has signed me off work for three months and I feel so guilty as I know most people carry on working until their treatment begins at least.
I just couldn’t concentrate and felt I was a burden on my colleagues as they didn’t know what to say to me.

Am I a wimp?

Are you a wimp? Not at all! I was diagnosed at Christmas (Dec 07) and worked from home for a fortnight or so before deciding to go on sick leave two or three weeks ahead of my surgery: I couldn’t face my work colleagues, or, indeed, the commuters, as well as being unable to speak without bursting into tears. It did mean that I had less time towards the end of my treatment (7 months chemotherapy) to recover before having to return to work - as my sick pay finished sooner - but, by that time, while I was physically tired, psyhcologically, I was stronger than I was at the beginning and could, therefore, begin to face people on a more professional level.

Easier said than done, I know, but try not to feel guilty - each one of us reacts differently to a diagnosis of BC - and if you need to take time off now before your treatment begins then it is because it is right that you do. I do not know if the medication you are on for the anxiety and depression causes you to be fatigued but I do know that, in the early weeks and months, I, too, struggled to get out of bed and that frequently I did not even bother getting dressed until the end of the working day when I was expecting my OH to return.

You do not say if you have young children to look after but whenever and wherever possible you must put yourself first over the coming months. And in time it will gradually become more manageable…

I wish you all the very best on the 25th and thereafter.


don’t worry about what ‘most people’ do, we all have different jobs and are in different circumstances - i really don’t think there is a ‘normal’ way of dealing with this. I tried to continue working after my diagnosis at the end of april as i didn’t feel even remotely ill, but breaking down into tears for no apparant reason when your’e trying to deal with difficult clients (i work with young offenders) is not very professional so decided i needed to take the time to prepare for the op, mentally and physically, and spend time with my family. If like me you are one of the ones who never pulls a sickie with a hangover and always works extra time if they take a morning off for the dentist then its those of us who feel some guilt even when we are genuinely ill.
I was signed off on 6th may and had my op on 15th - i went cycling and walking everyday to build up my strength and was out of hospital less than 15hrs after surgery. I felt almost ‘normal’ within a few days and am spending my time preparing for whatever else theyre gonna throw at me by walking and cycling (all be it an exercise bike this time)myself fit!!
Try and structure your day like you would at work. Exercise, in whatever form does help even the darkest of moods, combats fatigue and keeps your mind and body otherwise occupied for an hour or so a day at least!
I hope this helps a little, whatever you decide don’t feel guilty about not working, its all about you now and getting yourself better and back to ‘normal’ whatever it takes!
Take care

I was off work, was on sleeping tabs, anti depressants and beta blockers for panick attacks, it,s a very worrying time for you, we,ve all been there, it,s how people cope, so your certainly not a wimp, good luck for the 25th and treatments after, you,ll get plenty of support from this site, there,s lots of women who are very knowledgable, will answer your questions,

I was due back to work on 1st june after a year off on maternity leave. I spoke to my manager fully expecting me to come in before my chemo starts and she said “ive signed you off from 1st”.
There is no end date. She didnt feel it was right to come back for a few weeks then go off again. I have a hard physical job and it is very emotionally draining so i am glad she has been so good. It also gives me time while i am well to be with my lovely babies.
Dont feel bad. Take each day at a time and the fatigue you have is probably severe stress. I napped every day for a week after dignosis and i was sure it was a reaction to such terrible news.
take care

Wimp? No no no! Some people work all the way through their treatment. Some people can’t do that. It is no reflection on the individual.

My oncologist compares it to pregnancy which I think is a useful comparison - some people get pregnant without any problem, they hardly know they are pregnant, give birth with very little trouble and are back at work within days with a perfect figure. Then there are people who need fertility treatment in order to conceive, go through hell with morning sickness and fatigue and dangerous conditions like eclampsia, have to have emergency c-sections and are very debilitated for months afterwards. None of this is dependant on who you are as a person, how brave or any of that bunkum. It just depends on biology.

Being diagnosed with cancer is one of the most terrifying events you can encounter as a human. You have a long road of treatment ahead. If it is good for your “head” to be off work then that is the best thing for YOU and that is all that matters. Don’t worry about what others do - just focus on getting yourself better.
Good luck.

I was made redundant twice in two years (liquidation) and the last was in July 2008. Decided to give up teaching as no funding. Then had ruptured appendix Oct '08 and managed to get a job in Feb (NHS) and it took another 3 months to actually get the start. Meantime had DCIS diagnosed with WLE but got to do two weeks hands on admin before being told mastectomy needed.

Having been through the emotions I have decided that now back to square one being on employment and support benefit I will now do whatever I want to do and not worry. I will not feel guilty on something I have little control over but will feel hopeful and positive for taking control over my life and how happy I can be.

This life is ours and there is opportunity in everything - I have at last got time to garden, to read, to do whatever I want to do whilst recovering from mastectomy and treatment. I spent 20 years teaching and doing 50 hours a week so now that I have this I need the time to get well enough to go back to work - THIS I WILL DO!

Please do not feel guilty about working or not working, crying or not crying (I have done little of it myself) and see the positives - whatever your take on it is. I enjoy the 4am waking cuppa and look out at the sky, or the 6am coffee on my balcony with the flowers that I have grown from scratch (never did that before) and the precious weekends with family and friends.
This is a big shock for us but get a cuppa and sit down and think of something you always wanted time to do and then do it - from this you can find other things to occupy yourself. Diversion tactics work to save the brain from thinking too much.
I wish you all the very best and God bless you in your time of anguish - please treat yourself to being less harsh on yourself. I like you and so should you.
God bless

You are most definitely not a whimp. We all cope with this in different ways at different stages. When I was first told I had BC I was offered a sick note straight away and was told that many people DO take time off before treatment. At the time I decided to carry on working until op which helped me cope. I then took 6 months for operation and chemo. However now I am really struggling at work and cant cope with anyone putting pressure on me. I have had to take more time off and reduce my hours. Like you I feel very guilty.In my case because I was diagnosed about 18 months ago I feel like everyone else is coping so much better than me and that I should be back to normal by now. I have finally accepted that we have to give ourselves the time when WE need it, whenever that might be. We need to look at the long term picture and do whatever we need to do keep ourselves mentally and physically well both now and in the future. Giving your body a rest before an operation and possibly other treatments is very sensible.
Look after yourself

Sorry you have had to join us, but this site is amazing - lovely people who will give so much support, it’s been a lifeline for me.

Do not have any feelings of guilt, this is all about you now - you need to look after number 1.

Some people find work gives them a feeling of normality,which works for them. Depends on the job and the individual. My original plan had been to try and keep going, taking odd weeks off when I felt the need - post op etc. However, very quickly into the whirlwind of tests, waiting, results and so on - started to struggle. went to my GP who was absolutely supportive, well, insistent really - on signing me off for the duration.

Physically - without a doubt there has been times I could work. I’ve still managed my weekend work at the stables - as physically hard as I want to make it plus the benefit of equine therapy to keep me sane!

But the day job? - stress, pressure…thank you, but no thanks! Just know that it would have put me under a strain that would not have helped, I needed to be selfish, look after myself.

And Grace, so do you. You are doing the right thing.

Keep in touch



I was diagnosed last May, surgery June and started chemo in July. I wnt back to work in September as I was climbing the walls and work kept my mind occupied. It worked for me. Kept me out of the black holes. My colleague had 14 months off work.

When I look back, I wasn’t fit to be in work and was really poorly. Other staff carried me. It’s not fair -both to yourself and to your other colleagues.

Don’t feel guilty - it takes time. Don’t make the mistake of going back too soon.

I wish I had listened to my body instead of my head!



I’m also very new to to this site. Diagnosed last Thursday, had WLE on Monday and waiting for full path results on Wednesday.

I only started back at work four weeks ago after 9 months maternity leave. So, I went in on Friday so I could explain things to my boss, and try and get my desk cleared a bit. I’ve been signed off for two weeks initially (due to the WLE) but don’t really know what’s going to happen next. Work has always been so, so important to me, but I find myself now not caring what’s happening if I’m not there. I guess priorities change.

Really struggling to get to grips with how tired I feel. Is this normal after surgery?? I feel emotionally drained too.

Good luck everyone

She xx

Hey She, i was due back to work on 1st june after 12mths maternity leave. Ive not gone back as i had my op on 7th may and i dont feel emotionally or really physically to be a good midwife at the moment so i have been signed off for 12wks.
I felt physically exhusted after dignosis and slept every afternoon which i think was stress. I am in serious denial still!

everyone deals with it differently. be good to yourself and try not to worry about work. you are most important now.


It’s so good to know others have the same dilemmas and feelings as myself. I think women are just born to feel guilty - it’s engrained in us. I am still in denial and because the surgery is still two weeks away I am pretending it isn’t happening.

I find it hard to keep track of everyone on here - I read someone’s post and think oh I must keep checking how she is, but then I can’t find her. So, to everyone, I am thinking of you and hoping for positive outcomes for all of us.xx

I was signed off work from time of dx [jan 04] until november 04…then was forced to return as Incapacity benefit was stopped [thats another story]…I was not ready mentally or physically to return even though I thought I was [I’m a nursery nurse working with 0 - 2’s]…there is absoluately no way I could of worked through treatment.
Even now 5 yrs on from dx I am sill suffering with anxiety and depression and sometimes find work a struggle.
Do not ever feel guilty!!

I have not told anyone at work that I a have cancer, so have worked all through the chemo, last 1 tomorrow. Have an amazing wig, that looks better than my real hair.
I like the normality that I feel at work, and think I may have got depressed being at home. I have had to work full time for financial reasons so have always been used to it.
Worried that if I let go, I will get depressed and never climb out of the hole.
GP says I should take time off and will sign me off at surgery time.
I hate the chem, but work does help me ignore it.
It is hard and if you go on as normal people assume that you are so its hard.
I think everyone has to do what ever gets them through this blip in our lives.