Retirement - surely not!

I’ve been up since the early hours worrying about this, so before I go off to work, I thought I’d see if anyone has any thoughts. I started with diagnosis and treatment couple of years ago, and eventually got back to work full time. Have been working on and off, and not always full time for (ahem) over 40 years. However because of changes at work, this may all be coming to an end fairly soon, and no choice about it.
Getting back to work (have busy job but interesting specialist area)was big factor in getting back to normal. However, am generally extremely tired and quality of life not brilliant. So now I could retire. But —I realise that despite what husband, grown up family, my boss hints, about all the lovely things I could do in retirement - I really feel awful about it. A friend says its all tied up with my identity. So I feel that they will have to prise me off my computer and force me to go- this is surely crazy. Has anyone else found themselves clinging on to their job despite everyone else telling them to stop?
Sorry - I know there’s much worse problems to have - I just worry that once I stop worrying about the job, I’ll go back to worrying about the BC. Too much worrying!

No good advise to offer you on that one as im self employed and have decided to sell my business up and retire and play with my dogs and horses all day long. I dont want to work i just want to live and have fun. Of course this comes down to affordability and its different for everyone. Best of luck with what you decide.

My consultant said “give up the teaching and find yourself a nice little job” - apparently high incidence of BC in teachers - I found myself in your position - long story short - I got a job in M&S lol not so challenging as teaching but I met some wonderful people, customers that come in and chat and I have now an interest in cooking! Money isnt as good but hey when I leave at night I leave it at the door - the consultant thought BC could return!

I also went through empty nest syndrom which was awful so a job like this was great.

Over the last two years I have had to retrain my brain a little but on Tamoxifen I found thinking a little confusing at times lol.

Life is really what you make it - think about what YOU would like to do without thinking money or the anxiety of it all - think OPPORTUNITY - yay time to think about all those things that you wanted to do but couldn’t because… its not the end but the beginning - I am now quilting, walking miles, seeing shops in my neighbourhood didnt know were there and meeting friends and generally enjoying my life. Its not easy and I had some real sticky moments when I said “how did I end up here” but I got through it by seeing I had such a chance to get some time for myself and do something for my family - I look after my grandson one day a week and its bliss - just playing and having fun.

Give yourself a break and go sit somewhere alone with a notepad and a coffee and just think about what you could do - including supporting others on here and writing a blog - taking an exercise class and meeting with friends was great starter for me. Take the brave step of going forward with hope and excitement - you have been through enough havent you - its time for you.

Wishing you peace
Delphine xx

I went back to a very demanding job after treatment, but to be completely honest, I could no longer work at that level any more. I went part time but the job didn’t and I felt I was letting others and myself down. So I decided to retire, a year early so my pension was abated. I have no regrets at all.

I go to the gym every day so am much fitter - and have made new friends which replaces the social aspect of work quite well. I walk and I have also taken up water colour painting. I can meet friends and ex colleagues for lunch - and when they have to dash back to work, I don’t! We travel all over the world - we were away for 17 weeks last year so we are busy ticking off lots of the places on our wish list! I also have plans to do voluntary work when we reduce the level of travelling.

After my children left home, my job was very important to me. It defined who I was really, so I am surprised that retiring came so easily to me. But it’s definitely been the best thing for me and I am sure I have benefitted from the reduction in stress levels.

You do need to have a plan for retirement so that you don’t just drift. So start to think about all the things you want to do but haven’t had time for!

All the best


I was diagnosed 8 years ago, had treatment and then went back to work to a quite stressful customer service job.

My job involved working at a computer, administration etc and talking to customer etc etc. Well paid, excellent benefits, long hours, fellow workers were either wonderful or a pain, rude etc etc just like any other job I suppose. My benefits included private health care which was quite a big thing for me.

Anyway not enjoying work really, decided that the time might come that I wanted to take a break so started a “leaving work and need a rest fund” for that very day. This was about 3 years ago, husband at the time was in retail management and at the time thought his job was secure but just before Christmas in 2008 his company went into administration, won’t name the company but over 27,000 staff lost their jobs so it was a big company.

Anyway after about 18 months he managed to take early retirement pension although greatly reduced because of the company going bust and he got a job for a charity doing gardening for those over 50 who were unable to do their own. He loved it, no stress, lovely people who were really grateful for his help. When he started I was still going to work and I decided that this was the time to quit my job and take my break. So February 2011 I left work and am enjoying my time at home.

I need to work a few hours a week to pay for my private health cover which I kept on but when I am 55 in December this year plan to draw my company pension which won’t be a lot I know. We used to have 2 holidays abroad each year, mainly to get out of the country away from work but now we don’t need the holidays cause we are not stressed.

I am on Letrozole for another 2 years and I would say that being on the drug is not a walk in the parkfor me and it did contribute to my decision to leave work and I had worked full time from age 16 to 53 so it was a big decision but I was beginning to dread going to work so felt okay about it.

Look upon it as a career break and find something else that you have always wanted to do.

Take Care

Hazel x

Hi Karis
How difficult for you.
I have /am going through these thoughts/ideas.
I finished active treatment in Nov 2010 and back at work Jan 2011 having worked right through chemo.Dx Nov 2009 Had 2 more ops after I went back and used annual leave for those.
I had always really loved my job but then managed to fracture my sternum ( fell over in a puddle on the floor at work and tore cartilage in my knee too) despite working even on crutches there has never a day gone by when my manager does not mention that I had 6 months off sick, often in front of lots of others.Erm yes I know I remember it well. ( She even tore up the BCC charter in front of me) Sorry don’t mean to descend into a victim role. However I am now single and fearful of the financial future and I am one of the ladies that the government moved the goal posts for in changing the pensionable age.
A lovely friend did hit the nail on the head when she said she felt I had gone back to work to prove to myself that I could still hack it.Well I can hack it but do I still want to?
So after a lot of thought I have decided to retire. Making the decision was the hardest part but now I cannot wait.Besides which my daughter recently had a baby too.I am so looking forwards to seeing and looking after her more.
I truly feel that making the decision was really the hardest part for me, once I had done that I felt easier in my mind.
I have a long notice to give so have not told them at work yet.
I hope that you can find some peace and come to a decision
The financial future does fill me with dread.
Good Luck J xx

Thank you for your thoughts. It’s proving a hard decision, much more than I’d expected, as just at the moment it mostly feels like a loss, not a gain. And yes, that does include my pay, and I do have dependents, as OH is retired. I think all the very depressing news about people losing their jobs just makes me feel worse. As far as i know, nobody will get my job once I go, and so I don’t even have the release of getting ready to hand it over to someone younger, it will pretty much be a case of dumping it all in a bin, and shutting the door. I’m not as quick as I used to be, so perhaps I should stop kidding myself. We all like to think we’re indispensible don’t we!! Well one thing I could do when retired is get a bit more exercise, lose all the weight,and stop feeling so bl…dy tired. And having been up most of the night worrying about this, perhaps its bedtime! K x

hi karis
i was full time for ever & finally agreed to drop to 3 days as a ‘reasonable adjustment’(i’m disabled) 3 years ago, which was about 5 years after i really should have
then along came bc, with loads of minor complications so i was off for over a year including a failed attempt at a graded return
i reluctantly agreed to go for ill health retirement & that happened last october - with ill health retirement you shouldn’t lose out for going early but depends on your contract
at the same time i went through the procedure for what they call ‘mutually agreed terminsation’ (!) which basically means we all agreed there weren’t any more reasonable adjustments they could make & there wasn’t another job to redeploy me to so parting of the ways was the only option - didn’t apply to me but would be useful for anyone going onto benefits
i was in a reasonably posh job (psychologist working, among other things, in oncology) & am now bringing in 20%# of the money i was 3 years ago so we’ve downsized just a bit!
but i’m only just beginning to feel well enough to start having to acknowledge i’m retired - up till now it’s just felt like i’m still off sicck but stopped having to look after my small team from home
now i’m beginning to feel like, after a few months of rehab, i’d be back to work even more part-time but i won’t, of course
everyone assumes i’ve been doing all the things you’re supposed to do when you’re retired, but i’ve been asleep - i’m just getting back to pottering in the kitchen a bit
deep down i know i couldn’t do the job any more although i hope to do some very very part-time clinical work at some point - for now, i’ve started doing bits of supervising other colleagues so i get to concentrate & uae my brain for a bit, then go for a snooze as soon as they’ve left!
& i’m losing a bit of weight, trying to get a bt less unfit …
so it is a killer of a wrench, but sounds like you nee to do it anyway
good luck!

This afternoon I am going to my retirement party. I have had to take ill health retirement from a very stressful NHS job as I have had BC twice, and now have bone mets. I am only 45 and this has been very difficult to get used to.
After my second diagnosis I found it very hard to do my job both physically and mentally although I tried hard, it felt as if I was letting everyone down by being slow and hopeless.
The retirement package, although quite generous, will leave us worse off, but we can tighten our belts and survive.
It takes a while to get used to retirement and I have had a few wobbles where I think OMG what have I done!! Mainly it is an enormous relief not to have to worry about work or getting a pension sorted. Work is a big part of your identity, and giving up something that is so important for money, friendship, and just who you are is really hard.
So be kind to yourself and take the plunge. There are plenty of things out there that you have never had the time to do, both helpful and completely selfish. And of course you will have to keep up with your work friends, and that requires lots of leisurely visits to costas.
My advice is loose the job and you will loose the worry and stress that goes with it. We all have enough to deal with as it is.
I hope you find the right solution.
Good luck


I hope you’ve had a lovely party and not too many tears. Thank you for taking the time to pen the thoughts on a big day. Good luck for your retirement and let’s hope there some sunny days soon, as it’s not exactly warm here today. K x

I had an easier decision, Karis, but I know what you mean about work being part of your identity. I loved my adult education teaching, but was increasingly unhappy with my employer and then was not treated well during my sick leave. At one time, I thought I might still be teaching at 70, as this was a later life career for me, then as I was less happy I decided to cut my hours (hourly paid) but teach a few hours a week until my youngest finished her studies (MA this year). But by last summer, I was not sure I would be able to get through another stressful academic year and very angry, so when I found there was an opportunity for voluntary redundancy with a smallish payout, I decided to opt for that. I wasn’t going to get consideration for a request to work at a centre closer to home or with more convenient hours.

I miss most of my former colleagues and I miss my students. I’ve been in touch with voluntary sector organisations (most don’t have enough physical space for another teacher) and if a chance of paid part-time teaching comes up with another organisation, I might well take it.

But I am trying to think of this as a new phase of life, not just as the end of one, and while I have taken on some volunteer activities, I am still looking and considering what else I could do. We are not affluent, but we can manage.

Well up again at 6am. Pouring down with rain, so what to do!! Had a long chat with husband yesterday, who thinks it’s all nuts to keep working and would agree with all of you about finding something else to do. Unfortunately we are a bit at cross purposes because he does tend to interpret things in terms of what HE would like to do after I retire. I’m struggling to convey the concept that if I am totally tired out by a mainly sedentary job which I’ve done for years, then the long road trips HE fancies might just be too much. He can’t see it, and keeps rabbiting on about stress in my job, which I find very annoying. This stress he keeps on about, as far as I can see, is just normal mental stimulation of the ups and downs of a quite specialist job. I do worry that we are going to get on each others nerves a bit. But I suppose that’s gonna happen sometime, can’t work for ever. But it’s replacing a busy job with loads of people contact with a much lonelier and quieter place called home, that’s the puzzle to be sorted out about the next stage in life. Anyway, its decision time this week at work - this job is not hanging around waiting for me to pick and choose!! K x

Hi Karis

I wish you lots of luck with your decision this week whatever it is.
Just make sure it is right for YOU!!
My OH is fantastic and is happy to adapt things to help us continue enjoying family life together. He has worked at home for years so we have spent a lot of time together during maternity leave, illness etc…
I think it takes a bit of time to get used to being together all the time if you are not used to it.

My retirement party was fantastic and I met up with lots of people that I haven’t seen for ages. It took a lot out of me as I was standing up more than I should have and I really suffered yesterday.
It is still a sad time in my life.
All the best

Just logging in after quite a while to make a post about Arimidex, and thought I’d post an update on the retirement situation. I did eventually decide to retire and have now been at home for a couple of months.
Lovely retirement party and summer holiday, and have not missed work at all, even after 40 years.
Not everything has worked out. Thought I’d have lots more energy but am just as tired and achy (Arimidex) as before retiring - in fact some days worse, and my dodgy mx arm is more swollen than before due to more gardening. This has been a big disappointment.
General chores are taking for ever, and tbh the house is very untidy. To think I used to have a full time job, kids etc etc. and a tidy house. Now there’s no job, no kids fulltime at home, and we’re in a pickle most days. Motivation has slipped! (Sorry if this sounds a bit sad - but I really hate domestic muddle!). But I’m also really very very tired at times.
I’ve enjoyed the work pressure coming off, but I’ll have to give myself a smart kick in the rear about what to do next, as the days are just drifting by. K x

I have to say that I sympathise completely. I gave up work over 4 years ago and was relishing the thought,
And yes, I’ve enjoyed the time BUT I’ve also missed the ‘brain work’.
After 4 years I was looking for some stimulus, and have become a school governor.
I just think that whatever treatnent we have, we all need an alternative…a good life

Hi all, I have read this thread with great interest as I am currently considering IHR and feeling very anxious about it. I am 48, and was dx with BC in 2004.
I work in the NHS (for past 28 yrs) and following my dx and treatment I have struggled with my returns to work, especially with my confidence. I am nowhere near as efficient as I should be (brain fog?) and I am really conscious of this, as well as my collegues! It has really been very stressful, especially dealing with side effects of arimidex (now finished) and also appear to have developed fibromyalgia and autoimmune disease too, causing fatigue. I have considered IHR on a few occassions but never thought I was “bad enough”.
Unfortunately I developed LD in 2006 which has progressed from trunk to arm and hand (my dominent one). This caused probs at work with note writing and as a result I moved to desk one, but still probs with LD (and fatigue) continue, despite much better hours, all reasonable adjustments etc.
So I have finally set the ball rolling with applying for IHR, with the support of OH.
However, I feel really anxious about retirement- loss of identity, brain stimulation, motivation without job, too young at 48,etc.
I also feel very guilty, because I am very fortunate not to have secondaries at present (that I am aware of) and see that many women on here continue to carry on working.
Also, when I tell people what I am doing, I am continually met with comments such as “You don’t want to retire, you’re far too young” “there must be something you can do to stay at work”. I feel like I should perhaps discontinue with my application and “put up and shut up”.
I remember years and years ago always thinking how great it would be to retire, so why do I feel this way, and is it really OK being “on the other side?”.

Dear all,
I thought that I would just update you - I have just recieved a letter from NHS Pensions stating that my application has been successful and I have met the criteria for Tier 1 and Tier 2 (does that mean I will get Tier 2?).
I am so relieved that it is all over - my Union support has been amazing and I would just like to thank all of you on here who have offered support, comments and advice - thank you so much XXXX

Thanks Karis for raising this- I work in local government on a sessional basis and they have run my hours down because of cutbacks. My dx was 5 months ago and I need chemo now so I marched in today and asked for more hours this month and next so I can claim SSP! To my surprise they agreed! However I will manage to actually do the work when having treatment remains to be seen! But basically they know, and I know, that at 65 I am on my way to retirement…maybe a bit sooner than later.
I love my work so much that it is hard to do this BUT the disengagement has been gradual over about 10 years- I love my job but it started to not love me so I went past time 14 years ago, and with my husband started a small business (flexible and spot on many of my passions), and I’ve managed to find time for some volunteering. These kinds of working (which my pension now subsidizes, let’s face it) keep me focussed. I’ll have to lay them aside for treatment (and that is hard- telling my boss in my volunteering job was tougher than telling my boss in my day job!) but I have somethiing to really look forward to. I hope you can follow your passions and find your guiding star in “Non Work” occupation.
BTW someone gave me some advice in this connection- she said when you retire look for friends from each decade of age (ie 20-30, 40-50 etc etc) and you will never be lonely in retirement! This is not easy as we live in a village with average age about 70, but I can see that it will work if I let it! Maybe BC treatment is a way of meeting younger people? :wink:

Hopefully ok to join here as I am not from UK, but the Internet doesn’t discriminate. I was happy to find this thread as this is exactly what I’m working through right now. My job inCustomer Support management is extremely stressful and I feel like that stress is going to do me in. At the same time it’s good to see others struggling with the idea of retiring even though it feels just too hard to keep going. I feel I’ve worked too long and too hard and now I do want to take this opportunity to enjoy the rest of my life. but even the process itself is extremely stressful. And i can relate to feeling pressured by those around me as to what I should be doing when. I have to do this my way.
In the US I’m told I will qualify for Social Security and hoping I will qualify for our private insurance at work. if so I could get a much as 70% of my salary which I can definitely get by on. If I don’t qualify I can’t afford to retire and don’t know what the heck I’ll do because I seriously can’t do this job anymore. we have all earned a break.

Hi Happyshopper

I have just found this post and found it very reassuring…I have gone through the same dilemma…

I have worked in the NHS for 32 years (will be 54 next birthday) and was first diagnosed with BC in 2010; after WLE, chemo & rads I went back to work, initially graduated return but managed to get back to ‘full speed’ in my specialist clinical/managerial job. 


In January this year I had local recurrence & needed mastectomy & further chemo - it has hit me so much harder than 3 years ago, so I have made the decision to apply for ill health retirement, and I am jus waiting for the paperwork & the wheels of the NHS machine to turn SLOWLY!!


xx Sal