Work options during radiotherapy



I’ve had a lumpectomy and 2 nodes removed. I’m currently having radiotherapy (I didn’t need chemo) and continuing to work full time but I’m not 100% focused on work at the moment, muddling my way through it. 


Today I feel very tired, sick after treatment for the first time and overall fed up. I joined the company in April, fairly new, and my boss visits the office once a week or every 2 weeks. He mentioned to me the company can help in any way a number of times before I started radiotherapy. 


The radiotherapy staff seem surprised I’m working throughout and mentioned some people are off work until the end of treatment.


I really want to do the best for me but unsure what that is…  I’m conscious I’m still fairly new at the company and this is affecting my decisions about my work options.


Thank you



Hi Hchie


Maybe keeping working is also your way of managing the emotional impact of a bc diagnosis, surgery and radiotherapy, in which case carry on as you are but make it clear to your line manager(s) that you are less than 100% and they can’t expect different. If you’re in a job where mistakes or oversights have a big impact on others, maybe discuss the options if you feel the need to work rather than flop with fatigue, wrapped in a duvet with daytime telly for company.


I sailed through radiotherapy with no more than an itchy patch (I did suffer a lot through chemo so I deserved a break :slight_smile: ). However, it was a few weeks later that I was hit with a couple of side effects, which is quite normal, so I’d say keep an open mind and listen to your body and your state of mind. If the nausea persists, your doctor can prescribe medication (which really does work) but it is a sign that you’re not the superwoman you’d like to be - you’re human. If you are unhappy with the quality of your work, it’s time to step back and look after yourself in a different way, whether it’s full-time sick leave, part-time work, working from home… I admire you for keeping going but it’s not an option I would or could have considered. However, my friend who had a similar diagnosis and treatment plan to mine felt able to go to work straight after each radiotherapy and crash at the end of the day (she was working part-time though).  


Breast cancer is a major trauma and keeping going as normal is potentially very draining for you. Just be ready to adapt - we’re all different in how we deal with things but time off isn’t weakness, failure or anything other than normal with this disease. I hope you find the right path for you. Good luck with the rest of the radiotherapy and keep moisturising!



Hi, I really admire your tenacity and courage, but a couple of thoughts on what you asked. Your body has been through a lot and I’d suggest you need to watch you aren’t pushing yourself too hard. The rads are killing good cells in your body, as well as any stray cancer cells, so you’ll not have the normal physical reserves and you are possibly ‘running on adrenalin’. Also,you are covered by the Disability Discrimination Act, so you have rights, work-wise. Your boss sounds very empathetic and supportive and possibly is concerned you are pushing yourself too hard, so rather than be seen to be ‘trying to prove a point’ maybe you should accept what help he is offering?  He may also be concerned that you could take ill at work, pass out or such like, which wouldn’t be a good thing for you, or him. Also, just bear in mind if you gave the impression of being stubborn, inflexible or irresponsible, it could actually go against you, more than accepting the help he’s offered. I’d say give him a bell and have a candid chat to come to a compromise. I’d also add that if your rads team have shown any concern, rather than passing surprise, that you are working, you should heed that they have broached the subject with you. as chances are they are discretely monitoring your general health and well-being, not just your boob. All this said, a lot possibly hangs on how you feel emotionally; if you are coping that’s great, but you need to be honest with yourself. That’s not giving in, it’s just being pragmatic. Hug, Wonky