Work after cancer

I was diagnosed just after covid struck, as I work at my husbands company I was lucky as I still got paid then went onto furlough afterwards. I returned to work last September and I’ve been able to build up my hours to around 15-20 hours a week. The problem I have is my husband says my role is a full time role and as I’m off a bit when I get tired or sick he politely suggested I look for something more suited to me. I wanted to give it a go and agreed to up my hours to around 30 to begin with. It’s the first week and I’m so tired, I’m shouting at my little girl and feeling really low. I want to keep working there but at what cost will it be to my health as I’m used to having a day off to rest. I used to have quite a high pressure job but I’ve completely crumbled and lost my confidence after treatment and I’m also worried about going somewhere new if I’m struggling or getting side effects from my medication as they certainly won’t be as understanding if you are a new employee. I really don’t know what to do


Hi PJB43,

Thank you for your post.

I am sorry you haven’t had any response yet. I am hoping my response will help our members to see your post and share their experience and advice.

In the meantime, please, do not forget to look after yourself and that for any clinical questions, our breast care nurses are here and always happy to talk things through.

Sending you our warmest wishes,


Hello @PJB43  

Sorry to hear that you are struggling. 
I have just returned to work following my treatment and I’m still finding my feet a bit in the world of work post breast cancer, I can however appreciate that I now see the world very differently. When I was diagnosed I really wasn’t enjoying my job, however my return has made me appreciate that I’m actually working with some very nice people who appreciate me (the first time in a long time in a 25 year career!) 

I think you perhaps need to think about what you want from work? Do you need to work from a financial point of view, or do you need to do it from a mental health point of view (eg before my return I was quite depressed and I think it was because my brain was feeling under used, but given the world in COVID there could have been a hundred other reasons). Was your job a career (ie something you want to continue) or would you be looking to do something different?  
I am a 25 year plus qualified lawyer but I had a 5 year career break when I had my daughter who is now nearly 13: I didn’t actually choose to take a break (I lost my job in the financial crash) and really didn’t want to go back into law, but got persuaded back in on a part-time basis so I could be there for my daughter. On one of my non-working days I was a parent helper in her school which I absolutely loved and would still be doing if it wasn’t for COVID.  My work decisions were made with my husband and we chose to adjust our lifestyle whilst we only had one income, but my husband knew I needed to go back to doing something because it would benefit my mental health. 
After what you have been through with your treatment for breast cancer it is very understandable that you are feeling a bit wobbly and lacking in confidence, however I’m sure you can regain it. You don’t mention what your husband’s business is however my husband is also a lawyer and whilst we worked together when we first met, I couldn’t contemplate working for or with him now: I think it’s better for both of us that we have separate jobs and work lives. 
Have you thought about one of the moving forward programs that Breast Cancer Now and Maggie’s offer?  This might help you to develop a different perspective on your current situation: unfortunately nothing in life stays the same, and we have accept change in different ways and for different reasons.

lots of love AM xxx 


Hi PJB43,

I just wanted to let you know that on Thursday (20 Jan) we will have a live on Facebook about Employment which you may find helpful. You can join if you wish.

If you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Best wishes,


Hi @PJB43  

i,m sorry to hear of how your feeling, I know your post is from January but I have just joined the group and saw your message. How are you now? 
I finished my treatment in December and am too struggling with work. I work 40hrs a week and at the moment am on sick. I have quite a manual job and feel so tired all the time, so much so that I don’t enjoy anything else. This has made me feel very low, and don’t feel that anyone understands how I am feeling. I know I cannot do the 40 hours when I go back, so am in a scenario as to whether I go back or look for something else. A bit like yourself

Hi PJB43,

I just want to remind you that you should be kind to yourself especially after all that you have been through. Please don’t feel pressured to do more than you can comfortably handle.

I had BC 16 years ago and after having 1 year off work sick and a bit of pressure from my ex employer, I thought that I would be ok to return to my original working hours but in hindsight it wasn’t a good move. To cut a long story short, I left the company and after another break- I found a new job with hours that suited me and a bit more money.

All best wishes

After a health setback, getting back into the swing of things at work can be so tough. It sounds like you’re facing a real dilemma balancing work and health. Remember, your well-being comes first.

I once found myself in a similar situation after a prolonged illness. Trying to juggle work and recovery was draining. Have you considered exploring alternative career paths that might offer more flexibility, like becoming a travel agent Archives Careers: Education Requirements, Schools & Salary? I stumbled upon this idea during my own journey and found it to be a refreshing change of pace.

Transitioning careers might seem daunting, especially with your current job being tied to your husband’s company. But prioritizing your health and finding a role that accommodates your needs could lead to a happier, healthier balance.