How long before back to work?

I am sitting in hospital at this very moment, preparing for mastectomy tomorrow morning. I was wondering, how long did you take before you went back to work?

Assuming I don’t have to have a 2nd op to take the rest of the lymph nodes out, I am hoping it’ll only be 2-4 weeks, and really, hoping to be nearer the 2 than the 4!

How long was it for you?

Hi Flora,

Best advice I can give is to discuss it with your breast care nurse. Everyone is different and recovery time varies a huge amount. I guess it also depends on what type of work you do and any follow up treatment you might need. The tissue that is removed will be examined in the lab and your treatment plan adapted according to what they find.

I had my mastectomy with node removal last Monday. I’ve been told it will take around 3 weeks for the wound to heal and arm movement is quite restricted at the moment. The physio gave me exercises to build up movement and a list of do’s and don’ts for up to six weeks.

In my case I will have radiotherapy for a month after the wound heals so there’s no chance of me going back to work for at least 2-3 months.


Hi Flora

I had a partial mastectomy (lumpectomy) and some lymph nodes removed along with sentinal node and was advised 2 weeks before work by one BCN and the other BCN said expect to be off with treatments for a year. I’m having chemo until end Feb/ early March, assuming every cylce goes as planned, then Radiotherapy for 5 weeks. I went back to work a week after the first op and 4 days after the re-excision. I have worked through chemo aswell all be it part time hours and after having 4 days off from treatment. I have been very lucky with SE and for me part time work has been the right thing, I would fall in to a bottomless pit of despair if I couldn’t work as it distracts me. I am fit and healthy generally ( ha does having/had cancer count me out now?) and think that’s helped. I’ve also tried to keep up some light exercise as there is some evidence that this helps.
I would say listen to your body, you know yourself better than anyone but don’t be tempted to go too fast and don’t feel let down if you have to take longer than you expected. We’re all different. Good luck with the op tomorrow, do the exercises you’re given they help, and good luck with what ever you decide.


Hi Flora

I had 8 months off work, had WLE and nodes removed, chemo x 6 then 30 rads, which finished on 28th Nov last year. I gave myself the rest of the year off, went on holiday over Christmas and went back to work in the New Year. I went back 1/2 time at first, then 3/4 time then full time from mid-April. I probably went back to worka tiny bit early, but I wanted to normalise things as much as posible for me and for my young children (now 3 and 5.

You’ll know more once you’ve got a treatment plan.


Hi Flora
I hope everything goes well for you tomorrow. I will be thinking about you. I had a mastectomy at the beginning of June. I was lucky that I didn’t have to have any treatment after. (if you can call having a mastectomy lucky). I went back to work 5 weeks after my op. I am a teacher so that meant I had one week back in work - then the Summer hols - so really it was September. I feel well but find I get tired more easily.
You will need to take advice form your specialist, doctor and breast care nurse, and also listen to your body.
I think pychologically going back to work did me good. I felt much better when I was no longer on the sick.
Good luck.