To work or not to work??!


I hope you all don’t mind me posting “work” as a topic.

I just wondered what everyone decided to do about the going back to work issue. I know some ladies have retired and other ladies are in too much pain to consider work, but I am not in either of those categories. Am 44 with a son who’s at school all day… I keep thinking my health could change tomorrow but I could stay like this years! I know you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

What did everyone else decide to do?


It’s so difficult to think about being back where you were before having breast cancer. I would imagine that most of us given the chance wouldn’t want to go back to full time work and stress but the reality is that although cancer is a life changing illness it isn’t recognised as something that prevents us from working once the treatment has finished. I understand that it’s quite difficult to finish work on ill health grounds these days with the sorts of side effects that follow a primary diagnosis. X

Hi Mackers

I was very keen to ‘move on’ after my primary diagnosis and return to work as a teacher. You mention your son, my wanting to return was as much to be seen to, return to ‘normality’ for my son.

After my secondary diagnosis last April, I had to review my options. I discussed retirement on health grounds and would have been awarded this with a generous package. However pyschologically for me, carrying on working is important. It ensures I am still seen as the ‘me’ that I have always been portrayed as. I therefore made the decision to work part time. This is definately the right decision for me!..At the moment! I have 2 1/2 extra days when my son is at school to spend doing what I want to do, socialising with friends, family etc. Yet I then finish the week in a busy job, in which I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. Also I am not entirely sure we could manage just on a pension yet.

I realise that things could change at any time, so while I am still fit enough, I want to work part-time. As you mentioned, we will hopefully be fit and fully functioning for many years yet! As soon as I don’t feel able to cope I will retire on ill health grounds. It is such a personal decision and you will probably have lots of responses from people saying that giving up work was the best thing they’ve ever done.

Good Luck with coming to your decision,

Nicky xx

Hi, I was diagnosed with secondaries in November 2009 and am still working. I’m lucky enough not to have any major pain or side effects from my current treatment, so it’s been ok to carry on so far. The benefits for me are that I like the normality that it brings, and being busy helps to stop me thinking about the ‘what if things change tomorrow?’. I live on my own and am quite a worrier and the social contact and distraction of work are really helpful for me. Also I’m not old enough to get early retirement and my employers won’t currently give me ill health retirement. I don’t have any other income and the income from working allows me to keep doing the things I enjoy in my spare time.
However I will reconsider my situation as things change with my disease, treatment and work - my department is just being restructured and I’m about to be landed with more work and responsibility for the same money :-(…

Good luck with finding a way forward that suits you.

I didn’t know whether I wanted to go back to work or not either. I just couldn’t make up my mind and was so conflicted. In the end I decided to claim for ESA and base the decision on whether they put me in the work group or the support group. As they put me in the support group, I take it as them saying I’m not fit for work, therefore I’m not going back. It’s not to say you can’t do some permitted work even if they put you in the support group, it was just that that was my way of making a decision that I was finding difficult to make. Does that make sense?


I was fully diagnosed in December, with secondary BC. For me there was no hesitation in returning to work.I kept working with my first diagnosis 14 years ago. Keeps me sane. No time to think or dwell. I am well at the moment and on harmone treatment. Work have been very good in agreeing that I can work, so long as I listen to my body and I know if I have an off day, I can stay at home. For me it keeps a balance and a state of normality. Perhaps your work could put something in place for you.
Whilst I am able, I will work. Hope this helps. Best wishes.