Teacher’s and reasonable adjustments

Hi all,
Are there any teachers on here, specifically secondary school teachers who have gone back to work folllowing cancer diagnosis? If so, what reasonable adjustments do your work place have in place for you? I am aware of going back on a phased return, but I feel in the long run, just that isn’t enough. I am experiencing a lot of fatigue and brain fog; I have lost my confidence and worried I won’t be able to keep up or even teach anymore. Never mind coming home and planning. I am just tired all the time.
For context, was diagnosed early November with stage 2 Breast cancer, her 2+, and have been off work since. Went through 6 rounds of chemo, having targeted therapy every 3 weeks (this might change), had a lumpectomy last month where they removed 3 lymph nodes and from them only one was cancerous, and a mastectomy 4 days ago. I was told that the MRI showed I responded really well to chemo, so I wasn’t expecting to be told I would need a mastectomy, but there was some cancer in my calcifications. I am awaiting results from the mastectomy to see if there’s any residual disease, if not I can continue with the phesgo targeted therapy. If there is then it will change to intravenous. I’ve been told this isn’t as toxic as chemo, but similar. I also may need radiotherapy.
I received a call from occupational health today asking about my situation. I broke down before I could even speak, as I am still very upset about my mastectomy.

I don’t know if I’ll be a good enough teacher when I go back. I’ve only been teaching since 2018, and have had Covid in between and then was off on maternity for a year. I don’t know anything else other than being a teacher, but I don’t feel good enough or intellectual enough anymore. I can’t even string a sentence together. I have lost my confidence and can’t help but feel sorry for myself


So sorry that you are feeling like this. I can’t comment on teaching but help is available for your feelings. It’s still very early days for you and things are still uncertain - time to concentrate on recovery, coming to terms with what has happened and getting used to your new body. You have been through so much. At only 4 days post mastectomy you won’t be returning to work any time soon, probably not until September.

I have had similar thoughts and feelings and have just started counselling with a psychologist at my local Maggie’s and after only 2 sessions I can begin to see light at the end of a long dark tunnel.

If you haven’t had a reconstruction Flat Friends are brilliant.

You might not have a local Maggie’s but I believe MacMillan offer counselling or there may be something locally. At the very least speak to your bcn or the nurses on here.

Take care. Sending a gentle hug. x

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I am sorry to hear about your journey but pleased to hear you are responding well.

It is still very early days for you so don’t put more pressure on yourself.

I work in education and was diagnosed 2020 (beginning of Covid). It’s a long journey - Im now 4 years and been back this year full time. I felt fully supported during phased return. Be honest to yourself and open to your employer, they will be support you.

Employment law considers you as disabled. There are no benefits but you do have specific rights in the workplace. Contact MacMillan as they will have useful information and advice.

Hope this helps. x


It’s really early days - try be kind to yourself .a return to work can be adapted if it’s not working for you . I would suggest you contact https://workingwithcancer.co.uk
They are really helpful and can advise you on your rights etc
Take care


I’m a primary school teacher. was similar to yourself- HER 2 positive, chemo, lumpectomy/auxillary node clearance, radio and then a year of herceptin injections.

I went off work in April and finished radio middle of November before returning to work in January. I did a phased return for 6 weeks which meant I had 2 half days off per week. This was agreed with occupational health who then let my principal know. I also had one day off every 3 weeks for my herceptin. Only really needed the morning but I was glad of the break- usually went home and slept after!

Honestly, it was a lot going back to work and looking back I do wish I’d taken a bit more time off. However, I was down to half pay and just felt it was easier to go back in the New Year than in the middle of term. I really just had to pace myself and say I can’t be bringing a load of work home like I used to. My principal didn’t go above and beyond- she didn’t really “get it” and seemed to think now I was back I was fine but she didn’t really cause any issues I just was clear that I wasn’t taking on extra tasks, other than teaching. Your union can give you good advice as well!

However, I decided at the end of that year that being in the classroom was just too full on for me so I’ve a new job in a non teaching role. Its a short term contract so I intend to evaluate how I feel at the end of this and whether I feel well enough to teach again.

It’s so difficult to know when to go back but definitely link in with occupational health and any of the organisations some of the ladies have already posted. However, at four days post mastectomy I wouldn’t even be considering going back until at least September!!

Hope this helps and sending you best wishes in your recovery :mending_heart:

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Hi @Eniy91. So sorry to hear about your journey so far. I’m a teacher too but primary. Currently, I’m at work after my 3rd surgery, awaiting results. With regards to reasonable adjustments, you can ask for what you want. You certainly will go back on a phased return, but I’d ask for lower anounts of teaching duties initially too, maybe groups rather than classes. This maybe easier to facilitate in a secondary school. My school have just chucked me back in to my class with full teaching, marking and all my other responsibilities. It’s been hard and Ive not even got to chemo yet. I feel I’ve lost my confidence. But it is coming back. Talk to you ht with union rep too. They should help you find a way back in. After my chemo and radio that is what I will do. Keep me posted and good luck xxx

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Thank you very much to everyone who replied. I don’t know when I’ll be back at work, and I know that’s the last thing I should think about, but I just want to be prepared once the time comes. I feel like I don’t really know what my rights are and what adjustments you can ask for in teaching. When I was pregnant, the only adjustment I got was a lift key. I’ve only been in education since 2018, so I still feel everything is relatively new and unless you don’t ask, they don’t suggest or make you aware of what other options there are.

HR referred me to occupational health, as I have been off for 7 months now and they agreed to continue paying me full pay until August, which was very kind of them. It was after I had been referred to occupational health, I posted this question as I didn’t know what to expect or what they’ll ask me. However the lady said she will notify HR that I’ve still got a long road ahead of me and most likely won’t be back for September as I am still awaiting my results from my mastectomy and need to have radiotherapy too.
I just want to be prepared for when the day comes and to know what to ask for, but thank you for your suggestions. I will definitely look in to everything nearer the time x