Have had an MX and full node clearance and now on chemo x 6… done the first one only. I’ve just been warned that I amy not be back at work for about 16-18 months … plus the recon surgery. This is longer than I’d imagined… and I realise everyone is different. But can anyone out there give me hope that it will be less than this. I am a very fit and healthy 51 year old!

I had a mastectomy last October and finished 6 cycles of chemo in March. I am going back to work on 6th June. So I will have been off work for a total of 9 months.
However I had to have more time off sick as they did an unsuccessful lumpectomy first in September.
I did not opt for a reconstruction although I may change my mind.

Sounds a long time AngieLav. This is my experience:
mx in October, 6 x Fec ending in March, 15 x RADs ending in April. Started tamoxifen and waiting to start herceptin, returning to work on phased basis hopefully on 21st June. I’m 43

Blimey … longer than I’d envisaged … was hoping to phase back into work after my chemo … and have in total six months off … perhaps I was being a little optimistic!!

hi with me it was over a year. i had chemo first which lasted from Feb until June. Then a lumpectomy and lymph node removal in July. Unfortunately that was not completely sucessful so i had a mastectomy and recon in September and then Radiotherapy through the whole of november to first week in Dec. I returned to work in Feb.

Hi Ladies,

I was diagnosed in July 2009, and initially had 10 months off with bil lateral mastectomy, Chemo, Rads and then herceptin. I managed to go back to work last May 2011 while having herceptin, but by the spetmebr I was off sick again and currently still am having finished herceptin in Feb this year and then just had my reconstruction 8 weeks ago. I am currently signed off untill August.
I only work part time but have a 5 and 3 year old and am 35 years old, and felt that i couldnt manage everything so work had to give.
I think everyone is individual and I found the herceptin made me more tired and wonr out after each session.
Hope this helps

Hiya, I will have been off for exactly seven months by the time I go back to work. I had an mx in mid November, followed by 6 lots of chemo, then three weeks rads (which finished today, woo hoo). Am planning on going back to work on 15th June - almost 7 months to the day since my mx. (I worked until the day before the op).

I’m 42… but know far fitter women in their fifties!! So yes… six months is possible, but you just cannot predict how wiped out you will be by the treatment. With mx and full clearance, you can ‘hope’ you don’t have to have rads… but I did, so it can happen.

At least you’re being fairly realistic with six months, I was initially hoping I’d have an mx and be back to work a fortnight later… (two weeks is how long my surgeon told me I wouldn’t be able to drive for) lol.

Sophie xx

Hi there

I guess there are many factors to be considered and your situation is always unique to others. I was off ‘sick’ from January 7th when I had my mastectomy. My chemo started February 16th and I was able to negotiate going back to work on March 17th having just had the 2 cycle of chemo.

I have been very lucky in that my GP has put me on amended duties and that my manager is being so fantastic about it all. I am a social worker and it has been agreed that I am office based only with no casework specifically assigned to me. I work at home 2 days a week. I am not short of paperwork/projects to do and it won’t matter if I am not in to do them.

I try to go into work as much as possible but am able to go in a bit later and leave earlier according to how I am feeling. I also take days off sick as and when I need to with no questions asked (I am still on full pay), that with being able to get up and think to myself, I feel well today but I don’t want to work so I take annual leave.

At times, especially as I am due my last cycle I wonder how I still manage at times, with tiredness and nausea being my main problems. However I couldn’t bear the thought of not working and becoming a daytime tv drone. Going to work is more than 9-5 and performing tasks, it is the social aspects and being part of some ‘normality’ that I value the most.

I realise that I am extremely lucky in being able to do what I do and this is not the case for everyone.

Best wishes


Hiya there,

I was dx in Dec 2010 and wle/snb with mammoplasty on the other side on 30 Dec. I work as an IT technician in a specialist college and am 50yr old single mum.
I’ve had 4 x Fec and have been working after each one from day 10 to the next fec. Because of WBC I didn’t have last two fec.

I have Rads to come and can’t work whilst having this, hopefully 3 weeks, then I’ve got a phased return so should be back to work sometime in July.

As I have been signed as fit to work with certain reservations (no lifting) my employer has been very helpful.If this helps I was also advised by my Occupational Health nurse that, whilst having active treatment, you are classed as disabled and your employer has to work round this under the the Equalities Act.

Good Luck.

Helen x

Thanks for all these comments … quite a mixed bag. I had my MX April 9th and am on the chemo road now, expected to finish end of August early September unless there are hiccups. Dont know if I need radio yet … I think from a paying the bills point of view I will have to do at least one day a week after chemo to get my salary … unless I feel up to doing a few days during chemo - though I’m not inclined to do that (want to take six months off during the chemo then move on). Will keep you posted.

I was diagnosed in December and had WLE in Jan. I was out of work at the time (so no private health care, darn!) but a previous contract wanted me to do stuff for them again, so I started working again “as and when”, and I have just recently started a new job. I am on contract so only invoice for the hours I do, but I’m managing to work at least, even if not completely full time because of appointments and needing to sleep after a chemo session.

A lot depends on what sort of work you do. How much physical exertion is required matters, but just as important is how much mental exertion is required too. If you have a job with pressured deadlines and need to make instant decisions, you might find it just too much to deal with. But if your job is more of a “plodding” job (the job I’m doing doesn’t have massively tight deadlines screaming at me) then you might be ok with working, as long as your employer is also very understanding and accommodating.

I have found work to be a really good distraction from all the cancer crap. I was starting to get stir-crazy, and also got BORED! So going into work and doing stuff (I sit at a desk in an office and the heaviest weight I have to lift is the computer mouse) gave my brain some much-needed exercise. Not to mention a little bit of dosh coming in too!

Hi there
I had a lumpectomy in September last year, 6x FEC and 15 RADs. I finished at the beginning of April. I continued to work until after FEC 4 - but was allowed to work from home as I could access the systems at work. I gave up after FEC 4 as I was so tired.

During my time off - I was made redundant. So had to look for new job. My new employer knew of my health issues and I started on 3 days a week a couple of weeks ago. I do get very tired and have to rest alot in the evenings. I am hoping it will get better over time.

I am a 53 year old single mum.

I hope you will be able to return earlier than you have been advised.

How lucky am I? My consultant feels it would be good for me to do a bit when I feel able and my employers have agreed I can do some work at home when I feel up to it. I want to do a few hours a day on my good days now … conserving the rest of my full pay sick leave until I am sick.

I took on anew job 15 months after diagnosis / treatment when I was still on Herceptin. I did this because I didn’t have the confidence to work in our small business and I wanted the security of a regular salary. It was a disaster, it was far too soon and the employer did not understand the seriousness of my health issues; also the woman who was supposed to be training me couldn’t be bothered and was more concerned with her first grandchild being born in a few months. I left after a month.

It really gave me the push I needed, so I had counselling, set about rebuilding my confidence and I retrained. I’m now a partner in our small business and am really enjoying work.

hi - just thought I’d share my experience with you. i was diagnosed in may 2003. lumpectomy and node clearance. 8 chemo and 6 weeks radiation followed by 5 years tamoxifen. had 1 week off work for surgery, cut down from full time to 30hrs on chemo week but otherwise worked as normal. during radiotherapy - arranged my sessions for after work. had to give in and have a couple of weeks holiday after radiotherapy mostly due to complete exhaustion due to the travelling time to the hosptial - an hour each way. we are all different i suppose - originally doctors said 18 months off work - but it was work that saved me from myself.


I thought I would share my experience too. I had WLE and SNB in May last year, finished chemo in Oct and finished rads end of Nov. Although I was still a little tired I went back to work on a phased return in January and went full time from Feb. I am doing really well on full time however I have taken lots of holidays that were carried over from last year so this has helped. I am sooo glad I went back to work, more for the social side and feeling like I am back to my old routine in a morning, dropping daughter off at school then straight onto work. It helps that I love my job as I communicate with people all day long xx

Hi Angie,

I have Mx in Oct 09 had six weeks off work, then I started chemo but was able to work part time all the way through. I had a week off after each chemo then worked mornings only for the other two weeks. I did feel tired when I got home but was very glad I managed to keep working as it kept me in touch with the ‘real’ world and took my mind off things for a while each day. I phased back into full time after my sixth chemo in March last year. I am due to take a few weeks off again soon for delayed reconstruction. (I work in a school so I will only take the last three weeks of term off, then use the summer hols to recover.)

I start Chemo on 16th June having had tumour removed in first op then lymph nodes in second. After each op only took 1 week off then dived back in. I intend to carry on working throughout Chemo (optomisitc). I work 3 x 10 hours days looking after 3 x 2 year olds. Have had no real guidance along the way about continuing to work other than been advised I will have virtually no immune system. I work Mon-Wed and having Chemo on a Thursday to give me 3 days before working again.
Feedback from those of you who have had treatment regarding the days you felt most unwell and why would be really appreciated to help me.

I took a career break from nursing then was diagnosed in March 2010 and had a mastectomy and implant but this was rejected and had to be removed. I then was diagnosed with lung cancer and had a lobe of my lung removed, then had chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I am now desperate to try and get a job to fill my time but not very successful yet but could not get benefits either. I think employment gives you more purpose and if managed well can be a life saver but again like everybody says its individual and employers have to be realistic too cause you do not need any other pressure. I am still awaiting reconstruction but may not tell any new employer because I do not know when this will be and am not keen on more pain but not sure I could continue like this. Breast care nurses have been really helpful and if you draw up a plan of action to follow this may help. I have never really felt that ill though side effects of chemo are not good but can be managed effectively.

Karen, folk who work with children or in a clinical area are normally advised (told!) not to work through chemo because of the real dangers of infection.

Bulldog Byrne: “side effects of chemo are not good but can be managed effectively” You are very lucky. Successful management of SEs is what some of us only dream of. I had intended to work through chemo with maybe 3-5 days/a week off after each poisoning, with colleagues to go to clinical areas for me, leaving me in the main building. However, this hasn’t been possible as I am too weak and poorly with some severe SEs. It affects us all differently. I’m under pressure from work and I’m not there! I don’t have a good employer.