Undergoing chemo and still working

My experience of treatment was that I could not have worked through it. Had my op 30th July last & was off from then through chemo & rads & 6 weeks after rads approx until 30th March this year when I returned on a phased return over 8 weeks. The FEC affected me badly for 1 full week each time, then a gradual recovery in time for the next one. On tax I was affected for longer & never felt fully recovered by the time the next one came along. By the end I could barely walk from 1 room to another, & doubt if I could have reached the gate, far less get to work. On occasion I raised this issue with my practise nurse & the chemo nurses, as I knew some people were able to work & thought I must be such a wuss, but they all said you are not expected to work during chemo, & employers don’t expect it.
I take my hat off to all of you who were/are able to do it but I just couldn’t have.

Thought I’d add my comments as it has been quite a dilemma for me whether to keep working through chemo or not. I’m just coming towards the end of my first cycle of FEC and the side effects have not been too bad though I’ve had the usual nausea and tiredness. My doctor signed me off for this first cycle to see how I got on and I’ve decided not to work. I thought about going onto ‘amended duties’ but it’s difficult to do my job one week and then not the next etc, and as it involves dealing with people, people, people and their crises I decided it was best to get cover and concentrate on myself. I’m lucky as I can get quite a long period on full pay and don’t have family to support. I recognize others may not be in the same boat. I just think this whole business of work is a very individual thing and for some it might definitely be helpful to work. I would say it’s important to listen to what your body is telling you to do.
Good wishes to all of you.

Kudos to those women who are able to work through chemo.

In my case my body really objected to chemotherapy (and the cocktail of drugs to relieve side-effects) and there’s no way I could have worked through it (still having treatment, 1 cycle left of docetaxel). I see a lot of comments about ‘my job isn’t physical’ so think they’ll be able to work. I’d like to point out that for some of us (although not all) the brain also goes to mush. I find it very hard to think straight and sometimes to even to find the correct word (aphasia - I just had to look that up for example!).

In my job (project manager) it’s high mental effort and low physical (and a fair amount of pressure and stress - but there’s just no way I could do it. I consider myself to be on a good day if I can walk without assistance and doing well if I manage to do a little housework!

It’s different for everyone - see how you react and do the best for you. Here’s hoping you’re one of the ‘lucky’ ones :slight_smile:

Chemo affects everyone differently so it’s not always good to compare your situation to someone else having treatment IMO, it’s a very personal thing.
I worked through my 3xFEC, taking a week off each time then back to work for two weeks, but could barely get up and down stairs with the 3xTax and it would have been impossible to work. I returned to work last week after last chemo, but have very little energy and can only do it because I sit at a desk most of the day.If I had a physical job I doubt if I’d have been able to work at all during chemo.It amazes me how some women seem to be able to do so much, I’ve just vegetated for the last 10 weeks!

I had my second FEC yesterday and although I haven’t had any sickness or anything I stayed off work today. Its funny but as I’ve never been one to shirk off work I felt awful saying I wasn’t coming in because I was tired! To me being tired isn’t being ill but this is a different kind of tired that you can’t explain to people who haven’t had chemo. I guess its proper name is fatigue.
I know I shouldn’t feel guilty but I do. Does anyone else feel like this?

Hi everone

I absolutely love my job but there is no way I could have worked through my chemo. I am on the TAC regime (just had my 5th one on Thursday) which means I have TAX six times and it is the TAX that makes me extremely tired and unable to walk right far without getting out of breath and getting palpitations. I also find that my brain goes to mush and I don’t know what I am saying. With my job I manage a team of 12 people and have to make on the spot decisions and take part in meetings and with me not being right with it half of the time I wouldn’t be able to cope. I am very lucky to work for a company that is supporting my time off and I get full pay for 8 months although I do intend to go back to work after my RADS at the end of November.

Buzzy - I wouldn’t feel guilty at all, one of the chemo nurses told me that employers don’t expect you to work through your chemo at all. I am sure they will understand. Each chemo can be different too and some people don’t experience any side effects until a few days later.

Amanda xx