Working with children whilst having chemotherapy

I am due to start chemo in Dec and was wondering if it is possible to work at least some of the time.I look after 3-11 year olds in an after school club/holiday club.My best friend is also my manager and she is adamant she doesn’t me to come in to work as she is worried I will catch bugs off the kids.i think I will go mad if I stay home though and I find working ,for me, is a great distraction.Please can someone tell me honestly,am I being unrealistic? Thanks.

Ive been a busy poster these last few days but similar situations to mine keep coming up!!

I am a school secretary and I also have a 1 year old. I have worked throughout (although there was 5 weeks of summer holidays during my chemo) and I have been (touch wood) fine. My last one was Monday and I haven’t caught anything bad yet! You need to be a bit more aware in the middle week of chemo as thats when your blood count is lowest. But its certainly not impossible.

I too would have gone MAD being stuck at home all the time as if I was with my little girl and not working we would have been out to playgroups so work has the same pitfalls!

Depending on how you get on with the side effects however you may need a week or so off each cycle dependant on your reactions. I was lucky and didn’t suffer too badly so didn’t need days off, but some people aren’t so lucky!

Hi Picklepants

Advice on this seems to vary so much! I am a business manager in a primary school and was advised not to work. Personally I was (and still am) in two minds. I have followed the advice given to me partly because of internal politics in school which means that I couldn’t rely on support if I worked part time. However I would have preferred to go in on the high immunity days. Am also dreading going back after being away for so long.

As with so much of this journey the decision is yours but it sounds like you could do one week in three?

Good luck with it all.

Hi Picklepants. I started my chemo in April so have finished now. When I first saw my Oncologist she asked what work I did and when I told her I taught children aged 3 years to 6 years she told me It was too risky to carry on working. She said that I was at very high risk of picking up an infection while having chemo. I am waiting to start radiotherapy now follwing surgery and I still have not returned to work but hopefully I will be able to after Christmas.  I honestly think you need to think of what is best for you and chemo is hard enough without running the risk of getting an infection which could land you up in hospital. Good luck with your chemo.

Hi. I am a primary school teacher and was told that couldn’t go into school for the duration of my chemo to avoid infection. To be honest I was way too fatigued anyway but they were really strict. I was not to go to the shops, public transport or have too many visitors on my high risk days on the middle week! I was too scared to do anything else! I had the neulasta injections on each cycle and had no infections at all… Good luck with it x

Picklepants, I also work with children, in Primary school. I haven’t worked since early June. I have finished all my chemo, 2 FEC & 4 T and about to have a mastectomy on Friday. I can honestly say no matter how much you want to be at work, I haven’t had a temperature, cough, cold or anything during my treatment. I have my shopping delivered and only go out to hospital appointments. To stop the boredom, I have produced a spread sheet monitoring my progress, side affects and how I am generally feeling, also I am writing a journal about my experiences and day to day activities, which include visits from friends and family. I would hate for you to become ill and pick up any bugs. Good luck. X

I’m a childminder onc said as long as I avoid the children if signs of illness use gloves if I need to change them I could work if I felt well enough…I normally have assistant so can opt out if I want. worked through resting when I needed to. The only thing that kept me going if I’d had nothing to do but think poor me I would have given up.

Hi janine im a childminder aswell. Im debating wether or not to give up while im having treatment. Im gonna lose my total income. My partners is not enough to cover all the bills. Im not sure how the chemo will effect me amd when ill be at high risk to illness etc. Ive not got my chemo plan yet either im seein onc on wednesday. Im a bit aprehensive about it to as ive had an xray, ct scan and mri scan in the meantime so ill probaly get the results for them which im dredding more bad news

Sorry to jump on your thread and add to your confusion -

I was given my diagnosis last week, and told I will need chemo, surgery, tamifloxen, herceptin if I have receptors and radiotherapy!

Almost the first thing I asked was “will I be able to work?” The doctor asked what I do and when I told him I teach 8 year olds he said no. The risk of infection with chemo and all the drugs would be too high. The speacalist nurse agreed with him.

It seems different people are being told different things! I wonder if it is related to the stage/grade of the cancer or to the therapies you are likely to be having?

I have told my head that I intend to work until I start chemo, then stop teaching. However I am happy to continue doing paperwork for my role as numeracy coordinator for as long as I feel up to it, working from home. He has been very supportive about my decision, as have my colleagues. I am a single parent so fingers crossed I can return to work before my hundred working days sick leave given to teachers!

Good luck with your treatment. I’m sure you will make whatever is the right decision for you x

Thanks skinnyminx. As you say, lots to think about in the days ahead x

Sorry not been on for s while…my chemo is finished no illness and continued working…I do have s Co childminder so would say if possible register n assistant and get childminder friends to help out if spare capacity and parents permission . I have radiotherapy next … so far I had 2 ops lumpectomy and node removal and chemo and had 10 days off plus 3 weeks of holiday that was planned time no holiday but chemo 1. It was tiring and Co minder let me sleep a bit but mainly worked normally chemo 1 was harder as had to get side effects sorted. I had parents on side not bringing any sick children in and reduced numbers for chemo. I do have sole care days and was fine. …One in nappies but used gloves and normal hygiene. I couldn’t manage on benefit think the most you get is around £70 which would not cover living expense or daughter in uni.
hope this helps.