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Coping with Ill Health retirement from the NHS


Re: Coping with Ill Health retirement from the NHS

Dear Keeks and Frazzledfifty,

Thank you both so much for your replies. Keeks, I am so sorry to hear that you had to cope with your diagnosis whilst dealing with unemployment, can't believe you attended an interview the day after your diagnosis - I truly  admire your strength and I'm not sure I would have been able to do the same. You are so right about how what we do defines who we are. I hope you are doing Ok. Frazzledfifty - gosh, we seem to have a similar BC story (time of dx, LD, OP...).


Thank you both for making me understand that these feelings I have are "normal" .

As I mentioned, I think that I had used work to divert my focus away from my diagnosis/treatment etc. - it gave me something else to think about. Since I have stopped working, the enormity of what I have actually been through has really hit me  quite hard and I have had a few wobbly moments, especially about the future etc.

You are right - be thankful for the good stuff, and I do have a lot to be thankful for. thank you ladies for your support. XXX



Re: Coping with Ill Health retirement from the NHS

Hi Happyshopper

I totally understand how you are feeling as I took IHR in October  2007 aged 51 due to LD. Like you I was dx in 2004 then dx in 2006 with LD and 2008with Osteoporosis) You are so right in saying that our work defines us and I too have struggled with feelings of loss of identity and usefulness.


There is no easty solution but it should get better in time. I have tried volunteering but it didn't work out for me so I hope it does for you. I meet up regularly with other retired colleagues and still see woking colleagues sometimes. I know that I am lucky not to be still working in my old office as the conditions there are not good and I am also aware that I still have an income which is not the case for others who have lost their jobs through cancer.


I stll have my "pity me" moments but not so often now. 


I try to be thankful for the good stuff and make the most of the free time. My kids call me "a lady who lunches" and I am a regular in my local cafe where I can see people to chat to as I don't like to spend too much time at home on my own. So what I am trying to say is that what you are feeling is perfectly normal and I am sure you will adjust eventually.


I wish you all the best and hope you will come to enjoy life as a lady of leisure although there will still be moments of regret  which should lessen as time goes on.


Re: Coping with Ill Health retirement from the NHS

Hi Happyshopper


I was very intetested in your post. I too have always worked, first part time job at 13 after school. 


I left a job last year and unfortunately was diagnosed when unemployed. I even went on interview the day after diagnosis. I remember telling OH about how we define ourselves by what we do for a living. It's one of the first questions strangers ask us and we spend most of our most productive time at work.


I was excited about 'who' I would be next. What I would be. How I would be describing myself . Never in my worst nightmare did I expect to be 'cancer'. 


I have no idea how you can find your way through this but you are not alone. You are no longer part of the group you have been in for such a long time  but you still have not found your new place 


take care





Coping with Ill Health retirement from the NHS

Hi all,

I haven't posted on here for a while, but my last posts were to do with looking at the process of having to take ill health retirement from the NHS - mainly due to the problems I was having with LD.

(In summary, I was  dx with breast ca in 2004 aged 39, mx, then propylactic mx and failed bilateral recon, followed by lymphodema and osteoporoosis, neurological condition) .


Well, I did proceed with IHR in the end, and was awarded Tier 2 (thought that I would get Tier 1) which finalised in October 2013, when I was 49. I have completed almost 30 years in the NHS.


Although this was not something I wanted to have to do, I understand that it was the right thing to do if I wasn't going to worsen my LD. However, I have really struggled with the whole enormity of it all. I didn't feel happy at getting it - I just felt numb (although I know I am in the most fortunate of positions with a OKish income from my pension to tide me over financially), which makes me feel very ungrateful.

I feel very lost and very guilty for not working, especially at the age of 49. I didn't realise that so much of my identity was tied up in my role and now that, my credibility,status, has just gone. My children are now teenagers, so don't even have the excuse of having to look after them!


I have never not worked, and despite taking up voluntary work, I feel very lost! I know that the NHS is under alot of changes etc, and it makes me feel so bad that my friends and collegues are continuing to struggle on , whilst I am swanning about at home and not able to help them out.


Also, since I took IHR, the whole enormity of what I have been through with breast ca has hit me like a truck. Perhaps without realising, I used work as a way of blocking out my diagnosis, treatment etc?.


Without doubt, physically , IHR was the best thing I did - after 18 mths of not working, my arm measurements have returned to "normal", and I don't have the massive amount of fatigue/exhaustion to deal with - I can pace myself more.


I am wondering, has anyone else experienced this at all? I need to move on from my little "pity me" moment but not sure how......XX