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Any experiences of trying to work whilst undergoing Chemo

12 REPLIES 12
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Re: Any experiences of trying to work whilst undergoing Chemo

I've had 5 of 6 FEC and have continued to work in the second and third weeks of each cycle. But I guess it really depends how you react to the treatment and what kind of job you do. I really only suffer with tiredness and it floors me in the first week, by the second week I feel fine but I work at home as my immune system is low and in the third week I go to work as normal and then start the whole lot all over again! My Onc really said they don't advise people to work through their treatment due to risk of infections and bacause you need to listen to your body and rest when needed.

Good luck!
Nel

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Re: Any experiences of trying to work whilst undergoing Chemo

Hi Hannah

As the others have said a lot depends on how you react to chemo. I have had 4 x epi and am now in the middle of xeloda (oral chemo). The epi was accelerated (every 2 weeks instead of every 3) but I managed to work 7days of each cycle. (I must admit sometimes I didn't know what day of the week it was) My bosses were great (I completed my own risk assessment and they just signed it) basically telling me to work as and when I could. Last week was the first 5 day week for me. As I feel better in the mornings I go in about 8am and work 'til about 1pm. They are happy and I'm happy. It also does me good to talk and think of something else other than BC.

Hope it works out for you but remember that your health has to come first.

Take care

Mal

Re: Any experiences of trying to work whilst undergoing Chemo

Hannah,
Remember that your employer has to make arrangements to accomodate your "disability". Having Breast cancer, we are covered under the disability act.
Be very careful as during days 7-14 you may be prone to infections. You need to be extremely careful not to catch the germs that the public may bring into the library.
Here again, you may want to ask your employer during your risk assesment meeting, to keep you off public duties for the length of your chemo.
I personnally have been very lucky as my employer has been extremely flexible. I worked 2 weeks out of every 3 (chemo week off, week 2 working from home, week 3 from the office). I had 3 FEC and 3 Tax. FEC was relatively easy, I suffered more with TAX. I took 4 weeks holidays at the end of my chemo in order to get some strength back before hitting radiotherapy.
Good luck.
Sophie

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Re: Any experiences of trying to work whilst undergoing Chemo

Thanks so far for the responses. Great to hear that some of you have managed to work. I work in a library. The work does not entail being in the public area all the time. As I had a mastectomy I realise there will be one or two tasks that I will not be able to do like lifting boxes of books, but my boss has said we will do a risk assessment when I go back. I am hoping to go back the week beginning 20th Oct. Unfortunately I used my 6 months full sick pay up when I was off with depression until the beginning of May. I have not been back long enough to acrue the complete entitlement and full sick pay currently runs out in early Nov. Hence wanting to go back the end of October to qualify for a bit more before I start chemo. I think I am entitled to approx. 3 months on half pay but being realistic I will have major problems if I only have half pay as I have some debts to pay. I am seeing occupational health on 20th Oct. as I am also under a warning till sometime next April under an ill health review for the depression. So its a bit of a mess as I have now found myself with BC.

Your comments confirm how I see myself approaching it in that I envisage that I may not be able to work the full 3 weeks of each cycle, but if i could work say two thirds it would be a great help and lessen the worry for me. Intend to discuss it further with my GP, chemo nurses and my employer as it goes along.

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Re: Any experiences of trying to work whilst undergoing Chemo

Hi: I have had 4 x Epi and am half way thru 4 x CMF, will have the final pill on 25 November – champers and fireworks that night!

I have worked all the way thru apart from March when I had op and had three weeks off – that was a pain as I was self-employed at the time and didn't get paid. Since then I have been OK but I have been extremely lucky with the side effects, no sickness or sore mouth or anything apart from the hair loss. I am also lucky as my job is a doddle – I have been doing maternity cover as office manager for v. small construction company in Leamington Spa. Have done the big jobs in the past but don't want that any more – I'm 61. I am now down to two days as Mum returned in July and does the other three. It very much depends on your type of work – obviously working with children is a no-no – but being at work has kept my mind off other things and given me a reason to get up in the morning.

My advice would be if you can, then do it. It will help and give you a few laughs along the way – most important!

Julia

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Re: Any experiences of trying to work whilst undergoing Chemo

I had a very good employer too. During 6 cycles of AC I worked as and when I could (nearly 2 weeks in 3). I wanted to work so that suited me and employer. I later had taxotere ater mastectomy and worked a bit from home then, before working more or less f/t during radiotherpay. My boss went beyond the call of even very generous sick pay arrangemments in the HE sctor and I got full pay throughout...eventually I took eraly retirement but never went into sick pay. I was lcuky and very grateful to my boss, thugh the staff who covered my work for little extra were rightly angry at times.

Everyone reacts differently to chemotherapy and some people get very ill. Many people find they are OK for about half or more of a three week cycle.

Jane

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Re: Any experiences of trying to work whilst undergoing Chemo

So much depends on you and your employer! Mine was very straightforward and insisted I take what time I needed. As a result, I was much more relaxed and developed a work pattern of off for the three days after infusion, and back to work till the next one. I was lucky in that I did not suffer badly from sickness, so only had to carry anti-nausea pills for the odd occasion it hit me.

Guest user
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Re: Any experiences of trying to work whilst undergoing Chemo

Hi,

worked through 4 x EC and 4 x Tax without too much trouble, but days 3/4 of the Tax were hard, and took some time off then. My job can be quite physical sometimes, so made sure lots of help available. Also enjoyed gentle swimming (I'm a rubbish swimmer), but not during the nadir period, and cycling to work. Sometimes a little bit of exercise can help. Other times you just have to rest.

Small and regular amounts of food seemed to stave off digestive probs.

Talk to your employer - I found working shorter days towards the end of Tax helped. But on the whole, working throughout was manageable with support from workmates.

Oh, and the other thing I forgot to mention - make up a small Tupperware box to carry essentials: mine were anti-sickness, Gaviscon tabs, Immodium, thermometer, steroids when you're taking them, etc. You might have different preferences. Keep it in your bag along with anti-bac hand gel and you'll never worry about not having stuff to hand. Also I kept a soft toothbrush, toothpaste and Difflam at work, although I was lucky not to suffer ulcers.

Good luck

L.

Re: Any experiences of trying to work whilst undergoing Chemo

Hi Hannah

I thought I might work the 3rd week of the cycle but found that on FEC my brain was absolutely fogged the whole time and I could not even think of the proper word for things quite often. As a lawyer I could not work with this being the postion; it does depend a lot on what you do.

Good luck

Kinden
x

Re: Any experiences of trying to work whilst undergoing Chemo

Hi Hannah

Somone on here (I think Linda?) felt fine on FEC and worked - she was then floored on Tax but you don't have that. She even went to work from the hospital!

I have worked throughout but I work for myself so have been able to work around naps. During FEC I had to do nothing for almost the first week and then worked more in weeks 2 and 3.

Until you start you won't know - not helpful I know.

Good luck
love FB xx

Guest user
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Re: Any experiences of trying to work whilst undergoing Chemo

Also are you employed as quite a lot of companies will do half pay after the first 6 months too, it's worth talking to HR or the occupational health officer as they may be able to help too, so might macmillan so talk to your breast care nurse too and don't be embarrasse or ashamed as treatment takes so long that it's bound to affect you financially. I'll have finished radiotherapy in about a month and by then I will be hiding from the bank manager.

Angie

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Re: Any experiences of trying to work whilst undergoing Chemo

I think it really does depend on how the FEC affects you personally and what kind of work you do. Quite a few of us do work through it, I have part time but then I do work from home but found the first week of each 3 week cycle really hard because the steroids made me ratty and affected my vision and I was just wiped. but I found the last 10 days of each 21 day cycle quite fine but generally I did feel that I should be spoiling myself not just enslaved to the computer (I'm a programmer) so I've ended up doing a lot less work than usual over the last 4 months but actually I did need the me time too.

What kind of work do you do? You will have a week in the middle of each FEC cycle where your immune system will be low and you will need to protect yourself. I found that vicks first defence sprays allowed me to interact with the world but you will have to avoid any obvious sources of infection. ie if you see someone with the flu just run 😉

Guest user
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Any experiences of trying to work whilst undergoing Chemo

Will be having 6 X FEC as my chemotherapy treatment, but have not got start date yet. My finances are tight and I have limited time left on full pay with work due to the fact that I had a long period off with depression at the start of the year and have also run out of entitlement to Statutory Sick Pay as well. I am hoping that I will be able to return to work towards the end of October before I start chemo, having had a mastectomy on Sep 8th. I would like to try and work as much as possible whilst on chemo to avoid major financial problems.

Has anyone else tried to work during chemo? Could you share your experience with me? Would be most grateful to hear how others have coped.

Thanks Hannah