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Staying super positive \ working whilst having chemo

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Re: Staying super positive \ working whilst having chemo

Like Joyseymarie, I worked more or less throughout my 4FEC,4xTax. I wasn't being heroic, I just felt much happier if I kept busy as it took my mind off being ill. I took quite a few days off now and again (it was especially good to have a long weekend).
I have friends that did the same, I think lots manage to carry on working, but because of this often don't come to discussion forums, so we don't tend to hear there stories as much.
If you have any unpleasant side effects, get on to the hospital - many people seem to assume they have to suffer, but there are lots of good drugs to help with the various discomforts.

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Re: Staying super positive \ working whilst having chemo

Thanks for all your comments - really helpful.
Sorry it has taken a while to reply, for some reason I couldn't post a comment.

I start chemo next Friday so fingers crossed. I am moving out of my office tomorrow and have set up camp in my conservatory. I have managed to arrange to do most of my coaching over the phone over the next 4 months so I am really lucky not to have to travel or fight the tubes or train.

Off to see the wig person on Wednesday - pretty much resigned myself to losing my hair now.

Love and healing thoughts to you all

Re: Staying super positive \ working whilst having chemo

I worked more or less throughout my 4FEC,4xTax. The FEC wasn't a problem for me apart from the night of the very first one when I could hardly make it to the bathroom. No one was more surprised than me when I woke up next morning feeling ok! However on the Tax I felt more and more tired and by the fourth one just felt like curling up under the duvet and hibernating. I took a month off and soon regained my strength.
I lost my hair half way through and got by with a really good wig I bought on E-Bay for £40 - nobody noticed the difference, and no one knew except my immediate family and my partner whom I worked for as an electrican's mate. It can be done. It was my way of getting through it and it worked for me. By far the worst part of my treatment was loseing my beautiful waist length hair - but hey I'm still here, still ned after 8yrs and eternally greatful.
Josie x

Re: Staying super positive \ working whilst having chemo

As with most things being able to work during treatment is VERY individual. I was so tired during my FEC- T that no way would I have been able to do the two hour journey or manage the Tube etc without feer of picking up a bug. If you can work from home fine. Some people arrange not to have too much contact with the general public. Their "own space". Listen to your body rest it. If do have six months sick pay use it. Your body a been battered it needs rest to heal.
Only you will know what you can and cannot manage. I hope things will work out the way you want.

Re: Staying super positive \ working whilst having chemo

Hello Abbyleanne,

Very sorry to hear you've had to join us. Like DJ I had a Mx before chemo, so had a few weeks off at that time. I think the key thing for working through chemo is flexibility. The impact varies from person to person but there are similarities across people in the kind of side effects experienced and the timing. Many people have FEC as their first chemo and SEs of tiredness, sickness and digestive problems including mouth ulcers tend to hit badly about day 6. Tax, which many people then move on to is characterised by pain in the main bones, tiredness and a disgusting taste in the mouth and these SEs tend to kick in sooner - day 2/3. I found Tax much worse, but not everyone does. You are also very vulnerable to infections and viruses and the time at which you are most vulnerable also varies with chemo.

I have carried on working through chemo but had ensured that some of my face to face commitments were covere by other people. I took very little time off during the first 3 chemos, my main problem was tiredness and I picked up a virus after the 3rd. However nothing had prepared me for Tax which just floored me for the whole week following the friday dose. I had a very busy week planned that week and struggled in on the Monday morning then retired to bed then struggled in on the Tuesday morning then retired to bed until Saturday. I had some really important commitments but there was just no way I could fulfil them. Hopefully you will not be hit badly by your chemo but you just don't know in advance and you will almost certainly feel more tired.

The other side effect you might think about in relation to work is hair loss. A colleague who had BC 10 years ago and worked through said she chose to wear a wig so she didn't have to deal with other people's reaction. This made a lot of sense to me; obviously your nearest and dearest know what you are going through and don't feel the need to ask you about it but the same can't be said for work colleagues and clients. I had a good wig reserved but have been using a cold cap which has been successful so far (hence the picture of the back of my head).

As a business coach you should be able to feel positive while still accommodating your needs to recuperate and recover. If you can build some slack into your schedule over the next few months then you will feel a lot less pressured.

Good luck!

Re: Staying super positive \ working whilst having chemo

Hi Abbyleanne,
Just to concur with DJ (who is a wise woman in my opinion)really and to add a bit of my own epxerience.

My tumour began at roughly 8cm by 6 cm, and what I found in self examination was not that huge I can assure you! For a long time I wondered how come I didn't find it sooner, and felt guilty that I'd contributed to my own situation by not checking as thoroughly as I should have done. It is only since I completed treatment that I've been told I have naturally lumpy breast tissue and, by my lovely BCN, that it isn't always that easy to find lumps even if you know what you are feeling for. Apparently it is quite a skill for even doctors to learn, so don't beat yourself up. The important thing is that you have a diagnosis and a treatment plan.

Like you I had neoadjuvant (pre-surgery) chemo and was able to work all the way through it, though for a few days each cycle had to work from home and rest a lot. My job is really privileged, in that I can choose what I do, when and where, but even so I had to make choices - so for exmaple stayed away from the toldders group, avoided late night meetings etc.

I live alone and am fiercely independent, but learned to accept help after my surgery as I was quite restricted for a few weeks.

It seems a massive journey at the start, but take it a day at a time, a stage at a time, and you will get through.

Take care and I really hope all goes well for you.

Re: Staying super positive \ working whilst having chemo

Hi Abbyleanne,

Welcome to the BCC discussion forums where I am sure you'll get lots of good support from the many informed users of this site.

To help you along I have put for you below links to some of BCC's publications you may find helpful.

BC & You:

Chemo for BC:

Resource pack:

I hope these help. Take care,
Jo, Facilitator

Re: Staying super positive \ working whilst having chemo

Hi Abbeyleane

So sorry that you've had to join us on here, but you'll find it a great source of information and support. If you have a look, there's probably a 'Starting chemo in Feb' thread that you can join if you wish, to swap notes with people at the same stage of treatment as you.

First off, it doesn't always follow that a big lump means it's spread to your lymph nodes or beyond. I had a 5.5cm x 2.5cm, grade 3, multi-focal, lobular cancer and not a single node affected. On the other hand, I know of people with pea sized lumps where it had got as far as their nodes.

I had to have an mx before chemo and so, to a degree, I was still convalescing before my chemo started. Despite this I managed to work for most of the time through chemo. I had 3x FEC + 3x Taxotere. For the first two cycles I took 2 full and 2 half days off and then was pretty much full time, after that I did need a week each time before I felt up to going into work, but was able to check emails, etc at home.

The problem is that everyone is different and so, until you start, you won't know how badly you are hit by the side effects of your particular chemo regime. The effects also tend to build, particularly the fatigue, as you go through.

So, yes, you may be able to work through chemo, but don't bank on it and make some contingency plans.

Good luck, do come back with any questions - there's no such thing as a silly one.


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Staying super positive \ working whilst having chemo

Hi everyone

I was diagnosed on Thursday.(although I have known since I found the satsuma sized lump a few weeks ago!)
I am staying super positive at the moment (I sort of feel I have to - I am a business coach and need to practice what I preach here really, so if can help anyone to keep positive please shout!!)

I was told that they are starting me straight on 4-6 months chemo week after next as the lump is too big to take out at the moment.

I can't believe I didn't find it before (although I recently lost a couple of stones so maybe it was hiding under all the extra padding!) Having a MRI on Thursday and senitol lymph biopsy on Monday as it is the type that may spread. Hoping that given the size of the damn thing it hasn't done that already.

As the main wage earner in my family I think I am more worried about being able to carry on working though chemo than anything else.
I would love to hear how anyone has coped with working around chemo. I appreciate that we are all different but I don't really know what to expect.

love and healing thoughts to you all