Should I stop working to support my wife

Hi There…
Just posting on here for the first time ( used name just to protect confidentiality!) but my wife is currently being diagnosed with BC - we are awaiting to see which classification but it’s looking likely to be triple negative. She has an appointment with oncologist on 9th January. I know everyone’s personal circumstances are different and would just like any thoughts people have about whether I should give up work to care for her? We are both 57 and I could take early retirement to support her through the process - the chemo particularly sounds challenging- she isn’t that keen that I do that as she wants things as normal as possible but I’m not sure I could concentrate at work - the last few weeks have been horrendous and I know I appear very snappy with colleagues. I have told a few but I am meant to be the boss and all the decisions etc come from me. The challenge is I suddenly have no investment in my work and just want to be on hand to support her. Financially we would be able to survive on pension but it would be a challenge! I just don’t know what to do or where to go for help ?


Dear Jackie,

What a lovely caring person you are so nice to read that your wife has so much support from you.

This is a difficult one I feel going to work. you have an outlet from this which is going to be difficult time on the other hand you obviously want to be there to support your wife. I’m wondering if you could take a sabbatical from work maybe for six months to a year, maybe this would give you both time to get your head around what ahead.

Anxiety take a big toll on us no one can help with cancer, but they can with emotions. Take one day at a time at the moment, also I found a note pad extremely helpful, just scribble down, whatever comes into your head. This also helps when visiting your consultant.

Wishing you a happy Christmas together, please keep posting, letting us know how you are getting on.

Hugs Tili :rainbow::pray::rainbow::pray:


I gave up work at 59 to become a carer so fully understand the decision you have to make. In my case, the person I was caring for had an incurable degenerative disease (and in fact lived another eight years but declining all of the time) so it was as permanent a situation as you could get in the circumstances. With luck, the treatment that your wife will receive would mean that she recovers in time so you have to make sure that you could live with the consequences of early retirement, particularly financial, once the worst is over in a year or so.

Remember that, as a carer, you have rights under the Equality Act 2010 so your employer should make reasonable adjustments in your work schedule without penalty to you. So perhaps a sabbatical or reduced hours during the chemo programme may leave your options open once it has concluded? So much depends on the diagnosis and prognosis following surgery so perhaps make the decision when you have all the information? Take the Christmas period to discuss and mull over your various options, then when you’ve had the appointment in early January, things will become clearer.

What a good man you are for putting your wife first. It must be very difficult for her to feel responsible for your giving up work to care for her on top of the shock of the diagnosis. I feel for you both. Please let us know how your wife fares - we are all here for you both.


Thank you for your kind measured responses… it’s like a surreal experience that isn’t happening to us - you are right, as emotions are so heightened at the moment I’m not sure im thinking straight - I’ll think it through over the next few days - appreciate the support on here - I already feel less alone with all this.

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Hi Jackie. I’d definitely advise you to wait to make any decisions until you know fully what you are dealing with.
Could you request shorter hours at work or maybe a day or too off a week to be around for the hospital days but working on the days she feels ok.
When this is over you want to be able to afford to treat yourselves to a nice holiday.


I’m 60 and just diagnosed with triple neg breast cancer.
I’m mostly retired and my husband works full time still.
Personally, so far, and that’s only 6 weeks since diagnosis that my hubby is predominantly still working, with time off to come to appointments with me. There is definitely something about keeping some normality. Think tbh we might drive each other nuts if we were home together all the time. We haven’t got to the chemo bit yet. If it was really rough, I think we would go for my husband being signed off from work for 3 months or whatever it takes.
I’ve kept doing a little bit of work, because I relish the normality it brings.
Cancer shrinks your world, there is no doubt and I think if you can keep getting out there work wise, it may help you both. Xxx


In a word NO. The challenge with cancer and its very many treatments is that it takes over your life - if you let it. The trick to getting through it is not to let it define you and to try to keep as much of your normal life going as possible. I can understand it is tempting to throw everything over and just plunge into caring, but I really wouldn’t. If circumstances change it can always be an option but, right now, your wife doesn’t need the extra pressure of responsibility for your changed life because you give up work. You will also need the outside stimulation that work provides as being a cancer carer can be draining. Take all the time you need for appointments, etc., but otherwise, concentrate on your work as much as you can, then you will have more to give and not be sucked totally into the vortex that cancer care can be.


Thank you so much for the clarity of your response- it really helps me begin to process the coming year …. and what my role & responsibilities are in it! I think me wafting around the house watching her everyday would drive her crazy as well .


Talk to an independent financial adviser before you make any decisions about work or pensions

Talk to the Money & Pensions service, its free, its information /guidance and they can help you work out if you can actually give up work or reduce your hours and nit get into difficulties

Please talk to MacMillan about support including counselling and ask the team looking after your darling wife about her treatment and impact. You might find that she needs you to begin with but as the treatment progresses she might be stronger than you think, and friends are always there too just be brave and ask for help and practical support like a cooked meal, a clean house, a cuppa…they will do it i promise

And of course your GP can provide support too,

Please tell you trusted work colleagues, they probably realise something is going on and once they know it could be a much less stessful place to be

Partners, spouses need to look after themselves too so reach out to the breast care nurses if you need a confidential chat

Best wishes


Sorry to hear youre going through such a tough time. I think its lovely that youre willing to give up work for your wife but id hold off just now, especially if shes telling you its something she doesnt want.
Id wait to see what her treatment plan is & realistically how much help shes going to need. She could be ‘lucky’ and have an operation with 3 weeks of radiotherapy or she could be on chemotherapy for a prolonged period of time.
Im quite independent & didnt really want anyone fussing over me or going to appointments with me as it was really important to keep my routine.
Id suggest holding off just now and seeing ehat the treatment looks like theb speak to your qife again. Possibly taking/buying more holidays to support her through the rough stuff could be an option?
You said youve been snapping at people in work. You’re very stressed and thats natutal. Once you know what youre dealing with in regards to treatment and once you see that your wife is coping im sure youll feel much better.
Wishing you both lots of luck

As others have said, it’s too soon to make such a decision. There will likely be tests, scans and meetings before a treatment plan.
There are a lot of different types of cancer with different treatments.
My partner had only just returned to work part-time after his own longterm medical issues. His boss was great as he had the flexibility to rearrange his hours around my appointments, scans, operation, chemo sessions.
As my user name suggests, it is a surreal world at first diagnosis, but one day at a time things will settle.
With your support and help at home you’ll both come through x

I have triple negative, I try to live life as before although I am tired, I appreciate hubby doing the odd meals etc but I am glad he is at work most of the time, I personally couldn’t bear being treated like an ill person, I have an illness but am not ill. I would say wait and play it by ear, maybe reduced hours to help out a bit at home, it’s hard not being the woman you used to be and relying on others. Good luck to you both and your wife is lucky to have someone so thoughtful.

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Hi, I noticed you are triple neg.
Me too !!! Can I ask did you have chemo and radiotherapy after surgery.
I had lumpectomy December 19th, awaiting my post op histology and petrified they won’t offer me chemo !!! I’ve read so much about the aggressive nature of TNBC but my consultant seems so laid back about it. It scares me to not have everything thrown at it

Hi midwife 60, by the time my lump raised it’s ugly head it was 8x6 cl so I had hard chemo to shrink it, then mastectomy including most lymph nodes one side then radiotherapy, biopsies came back clear, then at my six month check up it was back plus hormone receptor cancer in lymph nodes both sides of my body! I was shocked! Now I am in oral chemo xeloda which seems to have stabilised things, scan Thursday so the truth will out! In the whole I am positive and getting on with my life, I am an active 55 mother of two, also I have kept working pretty much right through . Have confidence in your oncologist, they know best, I wanted IV chemo again but she said it wouldn’t work and the xeloda is easier to cope with. Try to keep positive as it’s really important, always here for a chat if you need it. Good luck. Xx