Starting rads in January

Hi all

Have had surgery in December (3 lots in 3 weeks!) but have had the all clear as far as the surgery is concerned but have been told I will need 3 weeks of rads but no date been given yet for when this is to start. My question is how long before I should feel that I am okay to go back to work? My Mac nurse says that its an open question as everyone is different, but I have already been off for 5 weeks and although my work have been brilliant they are short staffed and I do feel guilty (yes I know its daft) about being off, but I also don’t feel fit enough to even consider going back yet.

Phillippa in Kent

Hi Phillipa, I only had 2 lots of surgery, a lumpectomy and then a cavity shave and I stayed off 3 days each time. Depends how you feel though, I wanted my mind occupied by something other than cancer, going back to work did that for me apart from the long nights.

im due to start rads on 7th jan 15 sessions, i have a sick note til mid march, i you feel guilty at being of but im going to reassess in march and see how i feel.

I have been off since June! My work signed me off after diagnosis without questions and because its a hospital job, chemo posed a health risk.

Rads are tiring and my skin became very sore before it got better and its easily taken 5 weeks to feel ok ish ( altho i had chemo prior to rads).

Try to concentrate on you. Work can wait.



I also start rads on 4th Jan, following 4 months of chemo. Since surgery in late June I have worked very little. I have had long term sick notes but did try to work part time through chemo, managing only 3 or 4 hours a day for about a week each 3 week treatment cycle. However I picked up an infection in october, spent 12 days in hospital and have not managed back to work since then as the infection together with the cumulative effects 6 chemo doses has left me very weak and tired.

Having now finished chemo a month ago, but have had a bad cold since then, I am now trying to get my strength back, walking and exercising, as i hope to get back to work during rads, part time as obviously I will be at the hospital every weekday for 3 weeks. I also asked the doc, just last week, about working through rads and was also told that everyone is different but he warned me about the tiredness caused by radiotherapy, which will be in addition to the tirdeness I still feel from chemo, also that this will continue for a while after rads finish!

I also feel guilty having had so much time off work, and that my colleagues have had to do my work for me, I have had full pay all the time I’ve been off, however, if we are to get fit and well and strong again, we have to put ourselves first for a while longer as trying to do too much too soon could be detrimental. So you just have to see how it goes really, maybe work part time for a few weeks until you feel ready to go back full time.

Good luck, hope the rads go OK for all of you who have written on this thread.

Dae x

thanks everyone for your advice and I have realised that I have to look after myself first and leave the worrying about work to someone else as the more rest i take now then I would hope that will help whilst the rads are going on.
Let me know how you allget on with your rad treatments?


Totally agree with what others have said. Work can wait. I had 2 surgeries, chemo and rads and was off work for nearly 8 months. There were times when I felt like I could cope but I knew that I nneded to just concentrate on the treatment and getting through it. I’ve been back at work full time since June and I still feel incredibly tired. Listen to your body and please don’t feel guilty. All the best, P x

Hi Phillippa
I haven’t been back to work since having a lumpectomy and removal of a couple of nodes on Nov 20th. I thankfully don’t need chemo and start my radiotherapy on Tuesday for three weeks. My GP is happy to keep me off work until after that as the nature of my work could be compromised by me having to leave at various times to attend the hospital, for the need for colleagues to relieve me in time which would also put pressure on them and of the possibility of the tiredness which may come with the treatment.
Yes, my colleagues have to cover my work but it’s easier to plan the day without me. Yes, I feel guilty but my health has to come first. When I’m ready and able to go back I will need to give 100%. I can’t do that with all this going on.

Where in Kent are you having treatment Phillippa? I am attending Maidstone.
Best wishes for your treatment

Hi Alison

Hopefully my treatment will be at my local hospital in Canterbury, I have also been in Ashford as well though which was equally as good. I have nothing but praise for the NHS and the care I have had since all this started, maybe I’ve been lucky but you hear such horror stories.
I’m going to take your advice about work and stop worrying about it and look after number one for a change. My boss (who has been great) is supposed to be coming to see me next week to see how I am.
Good luck when you start your rads on Tuesday, please let me know how it goes.

Phillippa x

I’m having my surgery on 15th Jan a lumpectomy and node biopsy. I was thinking of starting back to work on the 22d but reading these posts I’m now wondering if I’m being optimistic. I’m a palliative care nursing doing live in care. Any advice?

Hi Tanya

Personally I think you are being very optimistic if you are thinking you can go back to work after just a few days recovery, my macmillan nurse said at least 6 weeks before I could think about returning to work after surgery as although everything heals quite quickly on the outside it can take months to heal on the inside and if you do too much too soon you will only delay your recovery. If you have to have rads as well then I can’t see how you will be able to cope with work as well (although I know that some women do work whilst they are having treatment and I take my hat off to them).
I felt incredibly guilty about not being at work as I know that my work colleagues are having to cover my work, but I have come to realise through these forums that we all feel the same but we have to put ourselves first when we are dealing with BC, and its no good going back to work until you are fully fit.

Please think about your health before you do anything else.

Phillippa x

Hi Tanya

I was advised not to drive for two weeks after surgery and even then some manouvres gave me a few problems. Like you, I use my car for work so there was no way that I could contemplate it.
Good luck for your op and just take your time afterwards. You won’t be ready to give the 100% committment needed for your work. You come first.
Take care and let us know how you get on.

Hi phillippa

i also had 3 lots of surgery in 3 weeks and will start rads soon not been told when yet. I will have 15 - 25 still waiting to hear. I feel exhausted probably the stress!!

Hi Tanya,
I had a lumpectomy on the 15th December and three nodes taken out. I thought I’d be on my feet after a few days bed rest but it does take at the very least eight or nine days to not feel totally shattered from the op. Lots of people say it’s the general anaesthetic that makes you tired, plus also the build up of stress and emotion in the run up to the op and post diagnosis. So do factor in lots of time. You may also get a thing called cording afterwards, which is scar tissue that forms into tight cords. Mine is under my arm, but it made driving tough, because it was painful to reach down for the gear stick or brake. Sorry to sound so doomy! It’s all manageable stuff, so long as you’ve allowed yourself the time to just go with it. Be careful about rushing back to work. And really loads of luck for the op. Let us know how you get on. All best wishes,

As regards returning to work issue - it’s a no win situation - if we stay off then we worry about the workload on our colleagues and the lack of continuity for in my case my students and if we begin to feel fitter and more mentally settled the angst just increases!! It really helps hearing all your perspectives and experiences on this subject. I’m about to start rads and I assummed that I would be going to work after a week of finishing… but maybe not.To continue work during the treatment is once again to unsetting for my work environment and I need to be on the ball and match fit. One of the worst things so far about having BC the stress of these situations. If , maybe, perhaps , everyone is individual - are phrases I’ve come to loath.Lets hope my boss will continue to be supportive but … watch this space.

Hi Alex

Where abouts in the UK are you…I’m live in North Kent on the cold Kent coast?
There was me thinking I was the only lucky one to have 3 lots of surgery in 3 weeks…!!!
I have got an appointment to see the oncologist on the 20th Jan with the treatment to start sometime after that. My GP has signed me off for another 4 weeks so I took the sick note into work yesterday, all my friends and colleagues were pleased to see me (I couldn’t believe how nervous I felt going back in there …like it was my first day at a new job) Everyone said that I had to forget about work and just concentrate on getting through the next few weeks, so thats what I’m going to try and do…try to forget feeling guilty that I’m sitting here in the warm whilst they are all having to struggle through the snow to work!!

Take care all
phillippa x


I passed the half way mark today, have had 8 rad sessions, 7 left. So far so good, skin a bit pinkish, have stopped wearing a bra to minimise chaffing which would make the skin more prone to cracking, I wear support vests instead, nice and soft and warm! I do feel very tired, went to bed at 8.30 last night and woke at 6.30 this morning. Also aching all over - joints mainly, also some muscular. Hubby bought me a cycling machine yesterday as he knows I want to get fit again and I’m not ready for the gym yet, haven’t been able to use it yet. I’ve been to work the last 2 days, just for 3 hours each day. First day felt strange but today i was more settled. It was good getting my feet under the desk again and seeing friends/colleagues. I think they were pleased to see me!! Like Phillippa I felt nervous going in! I have to see the onc doc tomorrow after rads and have a million questions to ask him about future prognosis and things like that! Hope nobody’s snowed in after yesterdays snow, take care all.

dae x

Hi All

Finally had my appointment with the oncologist who was lovely but because of this I forgot to ask him some of the questions I had for him …oh well I’ll get another chance when I have to go for my CT scan (assume this is for them to find the right spot - see I told you I hadn’t asked anything that I should have done?) and had the dates through for my rads which start on the 18th Feb. So just have to buy something soft to wear over my boobs as everyone seems to advise this. Felt very nervous when I was going in to see the oncologist but as I said he was lovely to me and said again how lucky I was that it was found so early and everything should be fine once we get the rads out of the way (although as always no 100% guarantees) In myself I feel okay at the moment apart from a rotten cold, just be pleased to get this out of the way so I can plan my wedding later in the year as we haven’t dared do anything until this was finished!!

Love to all of you

Hi, whoever is left on this thread, maybe only Phillippa? I finished rads on Friday - hurray!! had a bottle of champers (well, sparkly wine!) to celebrate. Boob and surrounding area is red and sore but no broken skin though it keeps working for another 2 weeks apparently. I just keep slapping on the cream and on my last day the nurse gave me special soothing pads to use. I’m getting more tired than ever, I realise that going back to work, even for 3 or 4 hours a day was probably not a good idea, will scale it down next week and see what the GP says when I see him on 4th Feb.

Phillippa, yes the scan is to “mark the spot” as rads are very precise, having said that, it seems to affect quite a large area! I got my support vests from BHS, half the price of M&S and just as good, nice and soft. Good luck, don’t worry and hope your cold is better.

Dae x

Didnt realise we had a January thread going! Dim me!! I’ve had 13 rads and 2 to go this week.Yippee!!! I’ve been shattered, partly as I go by ambulance so travel times are slightly extended to say the least. My boob is getting very pink now, but I have my creams to put on. The worst for me, as you may have read on other threads, is a hugely swollen boob and nipple which I’ve had from day one. its very painful. I’ve now been given some hydrocortisone cream for the nipple and the itching is subsiding slightly, thankfully. its very unlady like scratching your nipple in public!! to say nothing of the pain!!!
it still hurts when I lie on that side but a few more weeks and hopefully things will start to improve. I know I keep on cooking for at least 2 weeks after treatment so we shall see.