Primary school teacher with bone mets


I was diagnosed in 2014 with stage 1 IDU. I had a mastectomy with immediate reconstruction and chemo. Had my ovaries out in 2015 as I didn’t tolerate the tamoxifen and now I’m on exemestane. I have just been diagnosed with mets on my pelvis, ribs, spine and skull. I’m in constant pain. 


I work full time, teach 2 days a week, I’m deputy head and SENCO.  I’m putting on a very brave face at the moment and trying to convince myself that I can carry on as normal with a very heavy work load- I went back to school straight after finding out the cancer had spread- the problem is I don’t know if I want to. I’ve looked at taking my pension early, as I might be entitled to an enhancement. I was wondering what other people have done. 


Also, if you do carry on working in school, does a risk assessment need to be done?


Thanks xxxx

Hi Lindsey.
I was first diagnosed in 2009 with bc. Then again in 2016 with inoperable secondary. I’m too a sen ta and work 30hrs. I returned back to work after 2 weeks of finishing 6 months of chemo. I had to do a return to work with the head teacher and she went with what I said. I went back slight to 30hrs. I felt for me this was OK. I wanted to get my life back. I do struggle when it comes to the end of the week. I’m to young to retire at the age of 47.

Hi Lindsey
I would imagine a risk assessment would be needed. I know the disability act allows for you to work but within your abilities. Fatigue is a big problem with cancer and you will need to rest.
You can claim pip which isn’t means tested.
You just ask your breast care nurse or McMillan nurse to get the form for you or you can phone yourself. It is roughly £ 150 a week on the higher teir so it’s worth claiming.
As for pain relief if you are terminal you can ask the palative care McMillan nurse to come out. They are brilliant for pain control. I have cancer in the same places as you and I couldn’t walk without the pain killers. I hope you get on ok sue x

Hi Lyndsey, I’m sorry to hear about your progression and particularly that you’re in so much pain. It seems to me that that needs to be the priority to sort out. Things could look very different if you’re not in pain. You could ask to cut your hours or take some sick leave in the short term?

as to the question of giving up work, it’s a huge decision, and you could have many more years of active life in you. You need to really think hard about what you would do with your time if you gave up work. Working gives you an interest other than thinking about cancer all the time, and a routine, and I expect you enjoy the contact with the children and your colleagues. There is lots that can be done by way of ‘adjustments’ and which your employer is legally bound to do, that could alter the amount or the pattern of your work to suit your symptoms and fatigue. 

I work part time as a children’s OT, so I have a lot of contact with Sencos! I’ve found continuing in work to be invaluable in getting me out of the house and feeling I’m using my skills and contributing to the world. I would be very wary of making major decisions just now, when you’ve had bad news and are in pain. You really can’t think straight at the moment, and might start down a course that you later regret.

go easy on yourself, take some time off now if you need to, and pester your doctors until you get your pain under control

all the very best


Hi Lyndsey, sorry to hear your news. I was a primary school headteacher and the first time I was diagnosed with bc I told my governors that I needed time off to concentrate on me. 8 years later they found that I had extensive bone mets as well as in my bone marrow. Again I took some time out. It’s wonderful being around children, and colleagues but I found that the stress of the job was too much and I didn’t know how long I had. So I decided to put myself first and took early retirement. I didn’t go down the Permanently unfit for duty but in hindsight I would have. I retired at 57. I would say, take some time out. Get your pain sorted. I do get the maximum amount of PIPS which has helped top my pension up. My local hospice filledin all of the necessary forms and I just signed them. I do miss the kids, friends etc but I keep in touch with my friends. Teaching and management roles are extremely draining, although rewarding. If you take some time out you’ll be able to make a clearer decision. I personally do not regret leaving and it took such a great weight off of my shoulders. I had other headteacher colleagues who have carried on through with differing outcomes. Lots of hugs x remember you need to put yourself first for a change, something that teachers are generally not good at doing.