Working during chemotherapy

I have now had first of FEC/T 12 days ago and am feeling quite well now. Can anyone tell me if they work in between the next course of treatment. I thought of maybe going back to work for last week before having 2nd chemo.

Hi Annette
I worked between chemo’s. I generallly had a week off for the chemo and then worked the other 2 weeks. But, I could work from home when I wanted and only work 3.5 days a week. Also, I could avoid people when I was worried about the risk of infection.
Although you feel well, your white-blood count could still be quite low (mine was low until at least day 18 when I was on FEC). So if your job involves seeing alot of people (supermarket, library etc) or working with children (who are bound to be full of colds at this time of year), you may want to take the whole of your treatment period off.

Hiya…I worked throughout chemo as I needed to retain a level of ‘normality’. I work in a school but not directly with pupils, so provided I stayed at home during the ‘nadir’ period when immune system was lowest days 10-14 on FEC and days 7-10 on TAX, my Onc said I could work when I felt like it. My Headteacher was very supportive and flexible, and kept me supplied with antibac hand gel!!! I usually managed at least 7 or 8 days out of the 15 days between chemo, although it did get harder, particularly when I changed to TAX. I went back full time 2 weeks after my last TAX in June, worked through radiotherapy (until the summer holidays!) and have returned full time in September, and to be honest apart from a few niggling ongoing side effects chemo is a distant memory!! I fully appreciate that everyone is unique and approaches situations differently, so you must do what feels right for you :slight_smile: I personally could not have stayed at home for months, as having to get up and face a day’s work was what I needed, and I would have found part-time or a phased return more challenging! Listen to your body, talk to your employer and colleagues and do what YOU need to do to get you through this, and get through it you will :slight_smile:

Hope that helps in a small way, and good luck…xo


I am a self employed consultant and worked between 2&3 days every week during my chemo. When I was in my low immune periods I worked from home & the last 4/5 days of each cycle I went into the office.

As Maryland says I found it gave me some normality and enabled me to keep in touch, also I don’t get paid if I don’t work. I have now started rads and am working part days, as I have an 1 1/2 commute to work & 3/4 hr drive to rads so have to leave the office 3hours before my appointment!

Everyone is different though & I couldn’t have managed full time or if I didn’t have a desk job or if I couldn’t work from home.

You will know what works for you.

Hope that helps
S x

To add my voice: I had Tax/Carboplatin x6, but like some of the others, I worked on my “good” weeks. I usually missed out a week and a half, but then worked full time the other week and a half. I too had a desk job without a lot of interaction with the public, and my husband drove me to work so I didn’t have to take public transport. Nevertheless, for me, it was definitely do-able. I also worked during rads–and they were brilliant at the hospital at scheduling my apps as early or late in the day as possible, so I only had to miss a bit each day. The ability to be “normal” was so wonderful, and it also kept me in touch with the outside world. That dreaded “everybody’s different” holds here, of course. I’d say if you felt up to it, go for it–just take some care about infection.

I had my first FEC chemo treatment on 3rd October and didn’t work for the first week, but then went back to work, but for just about 3 hours at a time - which was enough. Like others I then worked from home over the last few days when my resistance would have been low. This week I am back working fulltime until my next session.
I feel well generally and don’t want to think of myself as ill, so need to continue life as normal as much as I can.
I think you should give it a try and see how you get on. Good luck

Yup, mine was pretty much the same, a few days work in week three but not full days - but watch out for the tiredness etc building up - for me it was the chemo brain that got me so i stopped work all together for a while after FEC 3 and before my 3 TAX began.
best of luck to you

Thanks eveyone for your comments. They are really helpful and much appreciated x

I am having 2nd FEC tomorrow and have worked most days since my first FEC mostly from home and not full days. I have been into the office for a couple of days to keep in touch and am lucky that my employers are happy for me to work from home and to do as much as I feel like with no pressure. Week one I did very little, just kept an eye on emails but 2nd and 3rd week I worked for several hours most days and enjoyed the normality. I have tried to make sure that I get out at lunchtime when at home for a walk or lunch with a friend for a change of scene which helps too.


I am a self-employed management consultant and was able to arrange my diary so all my out of the home work fell in the 3rd week and I managed this the whole way through. I was a dying duck week one, did all my preparation and reports week two and was back to my normal self week three.

For me it was important on many levels to keep working and not to live in cancer world.

Good luck



Hi, I had intended to do as you are planning and go back to work on the 3rd week, but it didn’t happen. I wanted the normality and wanted to feel that the chemo wasn’t affecting my life and I was still in control of something, but I found I was very tired and now having finished the chemo 3 weeks ago glad that I didn’t work.
I also listened to the advice of the chemo nurses who reminded me that for this few months you need to adapt and look after number 1, I have to say chemo has taught me patience and acceptance, and my priorities have changed. Before the cancer work was one of the most important things in my life (and no doubt it will be again) but after much upset I have accepted at the moment that it must take a back seat.
That said I have been into work for the odd day here and there to catch up with the staff and go through emails, and it did give me a boost when I did, but it was short lived. I felt very low after when I realised I was missing out on various projects and reminded me that it was a miserable thing to be sick that I couldn’t work. Its not just the physical ability to go to work, but the stress that work can bring.
Every one is different and reacts to the chemo differently, and I hope you are well enought to work if you want to, but don’t feel guilty about not working. If you are feeling well on the third week - enjoy it and give yourself a boost by meeting friends and going out for days. You deserve a treat and you’ll need it to get through months of treatment. Don’t forget that the chemo can also be comulative, the side effects can be worse as you go on.
Good luck with your chemo - just wanted to give another point of view to all those who did manage to go back to work. Just Not working isn’t giving into to the cancer in any way, you are just taking time to kick cancer’s ass. You have a lot on your plate just now girl, so don’t overdo it and take care of yourself.
V x

Just wanted to echo VJ’s post. I’m a teacher and was told by onc I could not work due to infection. For me the effects of chemo were accumulative and I don’t think I could have worked. Towards the end I was only just feeling well enough to have the next cycle. I know everyone is different and it may have been that as I knew I could not go into work, I did not feel I could have done my job properly. Do what you feel is right for you, don’t feel guilty if you don’t work but if it makes you feel better then do what you can. But as VJ said, you can use that 3rd week to recuperate and see friends or whatever and be ready for the next lot of chemo.
Good luck with your treatment.
Gaynor xx

hi annette, i’m on FEC had the 1st one on mon 8th oct and went back to work on the friday even though was still feeling abit nauseous, was good to be out of the house, but unfortunately my daughter passed cold on to me so not been to well, but still went to work should have gone to doc’s sooner to get it sorted but went on fri and got antibots and steroids so starting to feel better now as not coughing so much. its up to you if you feel like working then do, like many have said it effects us all differently
big hugs xx

I am working from home which does make it a lot easier - I went into work twice after first FEC but stayed to long and got very tired - Occ Health advised to only go in for a few hours to stay in touch and to do the rest from home. GP gave me a fit note for my employer saying that I am fit to work during chemo primarily from home and resting as required. I am lucky in that my job can be done just as easily from home and I do enjoy the interaction and feeling like I am still part of the team.
I have a colleague who went through this last year and she took the whole time off which was the right thing for her so we are all different and we should focus on what is best for us as we go through this treatment.

I am glad I have read your comments GMT. I am a teaching assisant in a primary school. I was diagnosed 2 weeks ago. I am going on Friday for an MRI to see if I need a masectomy or lumpectomy. My surgery is booked for 10th November. I have been told I will need chemo after that. Working with the children for the last 2 weeks has made it so much easier as I can just forget about it all. My school have been brilliant and I know I will find it hard not being able to go into work but realistically I know I won’t be able to. Just have to make all our Christmas cards next week! x