Returning to work

I had a lumpectomy and a lymph node removed on 12th September. I’m still getting a great deal of pain in my armpit and arm and my breast still feels extremely tender. I’ve read of people returning to work in under 2 weeks. I feel a long way off returning to work yet. Is this quite normal. ? I need radiotherapy in about 4_5 weeks. I wasn’t thinking of returning till after that. Am I being a bit of a wimp? I work in a kitchen and it is quite heavy work

hi, i was diagnosed in early june and had a mastectomy on july 13. from the word go my work were very supportive and i went off just before my op and they have told me they dont exoect me to return till probably after xmas. i work as an assistant manager in a food shop so its heavy work and very stressful. i am due to start radiotherapy in the nex tcouple of weeks so it may be i can go back bfore xmas but i wont go until i know i am fuy fir and recoverd. w e have been through a lot and owe it to ourselves to give us plenty of time to recover.  So no yiu are not being a wimp - you are being good to yoursef.  hope this helps xx

Hi Mrs Watson, I think the first thing is that everyone heals differently and I understand that a lumpectomy can be more difficult to heal from than a mastectomy because the latter involves full removal of the nerves (leaving the areas numb), while in a lumpectomy some nerves will remain that have to fuse back together over time. That can be a painful process. I had my mastectomy and full node clearance 5th August and to be honest, other than restricted arm movement, my main symptom is complete numbness around the whole area. You are absolutely not a wimp. Allowing your body time to recover is paying gratitude to its fight to recover. Putting that first is admirable in my book. Wishing you all the best.

I was also expecting to return to work after 2-3 weeks post lumpectomy-but have to say it’s only been the past 10days or so I felt more ‘normal’ . I start rads this week so was advised by occ health to stay off til after radiotherapy. I realise now that I probably hadn’t really been ready to return before now. If you can, take time to fully recover.

Everyone is different physically and also your type of work makes a difference as well. My work have gone above and beyond giving me fully paid time off though it’s not in my contract. As such I probably pushed myself to hard to go to work through chemo. Nurses and doctors referred to others and myself as ‘working right through chemo’ which I think puts unfair pressure on others to do the same. I didn’t work ‘right through’, in each 3week cycle I ended up working 2weeks. I have been incredibly lucky with my lumpectomy which I had one week ago and have no pain from the op. Even so I am taking 10 days off. Apart from anything else psychologically I feel I need a little break to re-charge before starting radiotherapy which I can’t have locally & will have to be away from home for weeks to have. Take the time you need. If it helps go back part time & do half days to start with.

Hello Mrs Watson, 


i agree with the others. Also, as cancer patients we do have some protection in law.


Most employers would understand your need to recover properly from not only the operation, but the emotional shock of what you are going through.  


Do not feel embarrassed about needing time to recover. Your.GP would be a good person to discuss it with.  Or, if you prefer, you can chat on the BCC  helpline.

very best Wishes, Moijanxx