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Teachers and phased return


Re: Teachers and phased return

Hi Waveylocks,


If you become poorly again by pushing yourself too hard the loss of your limited hours will be felt. Yes your colleagues have burdens - but unless you look after you, few of them will help support you.


I have also sent you a private message (or will be shortly) !


Best wishes,


LL xx

Re: Teachers and phased return

Thanks Lexilou,

Thanks for posting -Am glad to hear that in your new job with the DDA cover you are doing better?

The Occ Doc mentions in her letter that my condition is covered under the DDA. Not really sure what that means in real money so to speak. Am keen to make it work  but aware the pressures that my colleagues work under and don't want to be a burden so I guess it's gonna be easy to over expect of myself. 

Re: Teachers and phased return


as a nurse with debilitating fatigue, my occ health recommended increasing by half a day a month. ( I was managing 3 half days). To any one fit & well this seems so slow - to me it was challenging & initially i coped with it as the other factors were built in. As time progressed the supportive measures were possibly going to be removed & I felt I had lost the support of my management. I did resign - maybe not best option but i felt the stress & fatigue & my health were too important to keep battling. I have since re-enterred employment, disclosing my diagnosis & raising the cover afforded by the disability act. I still pace myself - I am just over 1 year after finishing surgery / rads, do take anastrazol which has its own side effects. Good luck x

LL xx

Re: Teachers and phased return

Hi Everyone,

I know this thread has been quiet but am reactivating it as am also now looking at my phased return.

Am a bit different to you all I'm a peri teacher so out and about in many settings with lots of travel and a fair bit of equip, etc to lug. I have had a tough time during treatment (FECT, Herceptin, Masectomy, Rads & the inevitable Letrozole), had several stays in hospital ending with the Herceptin causing some heart damage requiring further treatment (still ongoing) delaying my return to work. Am still recovering (Lol.....can't believe how long it is all taking and I still tire easily)

So am planning to go back Jan but will have been off work for over a year. Seen Occ Doc, recommended an extended phased return, rest breaks etc...  Am really not sure what an 'extended phase return' means in real terms other then it's longer then the normal 4-6weeks!! I'd be grateful for any feedback, especially from any other peri teachers on tips on how they managed. Once am back out travelling on the road am essentially on my own with it all. Looking forward to being back but am concerned about how well I'll sustain and all the carrying of equipment. 

Any suggestions, how did you fare? Thanks. Xx


Re: Teachers and phased return


i hope you don't mind me joining your thread but I wondered if you could give me your opinions. I'm 34 and retrained as a teache finishing my not in July. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of June. I had my first round of chemo and was back in school after. I've had two more over the summer, so half way through.

i want to  continue working throughout if possible. I'm due to start in a new school next week in a different county so I'm not even sure if I'm entitled to sick pay. 

My oncologist was horrified at the idea, but no one has actually signed my off work. 

My new head is very supportive and has given my a full time HLTA (I also only,have 17 in my class). I've been told I can have whatever time I need out of the classroom if I want to rest, or  anything else. 

I know risk of infection is high. But chemo will be over my half term. I the. Need a lumpectomy and rads. 


I worked so hard and to qualify to teach, with two young children. I was so happy to get my new job, it's my old primary school, am I completely unrealistic to think I can do it?


ive been really lucky with side effects from FEC, which perhaps has given me unrealistic hopes. Next three at T, which I hear can hit hard?


thanks for any advice

i hope you're.all doing well 



Re: Teachers and phased return

I am in phased return right now. And it's driving me nuts. I have only been allowed to do 12. Hours a week for the past month and as of Monday go to 16. What's driving me nuts is the continued questions as to how I'm doing. Am I coping. I am. It is going to take about 2months to get back to my normal shifts. Can't wait lol

Re: Teachers and phased return

Hi all


Firstly - good luck with your treatments if still progressing through this phase.


I am not a teacher - but have posted quite a bit about my experiences of returning to work / phased return & actions taken. As am sure you have all noticed now we all react differently & recovery times are different. Posts I have made can be found at http://forum.breastcancercare.org.uk/t5/Living-with-breast-cancer/occupational-health-review/m-p/933... and I would definately recommend requesting an Occ health review & taking the EMPLOY charter formulated by the site to any discussions you have ( i didnt know about that), but did have the Macmillan return to work booklet


Contracts all vary too,,,, so again I hope yours is generous x


Best wishes


LL xx

Re: Teachers and phased return

I meant too optimistic obviously!

Re: Teachers and phased return

I was hoping to go back first week of new half term which will be 2 weeks after I finish. Wondering now if that might be do optimistic and I should think about phased return?? I am head of dept in a sixth form college so could do plenty of work on timetabling , preparation etc without re-starting teaching. My head has been brilliantly supportive so far so I think he would agree with that. xx

Re: Teachers and phased return

I've spoken to the headteacher and she was great told me I can go back when I need to and I will have a four week phased return x

Re: Teachers and phased return

Hello, Dizzy Cow. You must be relieved to have a date for your radiotherapy.

Personally speaking, two weeks recovery may be a bit too soon- the fatigue post radio can be overwhelming.

Maybe leave it open, and make a firm decision once you have finished the treatment and see how you feel?

I found the fatigue would just suddenly envelope me, it would feel as though someone had removed my power 'battery', and I had no option but to lie down! 

I hope it all goes well- take care.

Re: Teachers and phased return

Thank you for all your comments. I've got a start date for radiotherapy. Going to give myself two weeks after finishing that before going back. Does that sound ok? Will take as long as I am offered to phase back into full time teaching again x

Re: Teachers and phased return

Thanks for the advice Dog mad ! I think phased return seems the best. Haven't even started radio yet as I had seroma which needed draining and they are waiting for it to settle so can't see myself getting back until after May half term. Fortunately I have a rally sympathetic head who's wife went through this 8 years ago so he totally understands. Thanks again.

Re: Teachers and phased return

Hello, Eileen 728.  It was around four weeks post radio that I returned to school, as fatigue issues with such treatment are a big deal, and I needed a daily afternoon sleep for a long while afterwards.


I was not really fit to return to the classroom at that time, and as you will see in my previous response to this post. However, I had no option as I had exhausted all my sick pay, but the Head was very good with a longer phased return than normal, which my doctor recommended.

Getting your body habituated to the Letrozole was a real problem for me, too, and I had regular 'funny turns', and vomiting on occasional mornings, for the first year, but three years down the line, I am fine, apart from the chronic joint pains, which is another side effect of Letrozole.

As far as questions from students were concerned, I made a brief announcement at the start of each lesson with a new group, that I was pleased to see them again after such a long time, as I had been in hospital being treated for a potentially life-threatening illness, and left it at that, but I am sure they could draw their own conclusions as I was still wearing a headscarf to cover my balding/patchy bits, but had kept around half my hair with the Paxman scalp cooler.

Just one student made a comment a few months later when I felt my hair was in a reasonable state to remove the headscarf- which was 'Your hair has grown back nicely, Miss.  It looks lovely'.  How sweet was that?

All the best.


Re: Teachers and phased return

I teach too - at a sixth form college. My employers have been great so far - and as other people have said here the 6 months on full pay is great. Phased return sounds a good option but had anyone experience of how long after radiotherapy it is realistic to consider going back? I think physically I might be ready quicker than emotionally. I seem to have lost a bit of confidence and my students will be likely to be asking me lots of questions I don't feel ready to answer. Off to see the oncologist today to see when radiotherapy starts and I am going to be on Letrozole too. xxxx

Re: Teachers and phased return

Hi - I'm a primary teacher and returned to work in January after 10 months off (chemo x6, WLE and 2 lymph nodes removed (clear), rads x15 ending in Oct). My phased return was gradual increase over 4 weeks, and I extended this by using some of the annual leave I had accrued during sick leave. I have just completed my first full time week and I feel really tired. I'm trying to prioritise and just do the minimum, but it's not easy in this job, as you all know too well! Still, I'm glad to be back at work and to feel that I'm in a more normal routine. Good luck and take care x

Re: Teachers and phased return

Hi DizzyCow. 

I think you will be wise to take as long as you can for your phased return and hope your school is a bit more sympathetic and understanding. Having said that my school had been very good up to the point of me returning and I think my  5 week phased return might have come from HR and occupational health. I have learned from other threads that ladies have been refered to their occupational health dept for assesment before returning to work.

Hope it all goes well for you x

Re: Teachers and phased return

Thanks ladies. I'be been allowed into school at all since diagnosis so I've been anxious and worrying about a lot of things. I think I will ask for as long a phased return as possible and taking it easy is definately.
SML 1903 as if BC isn't stressful enough you get told stress would earn you a longer phased return, I may play the stress card in that case. I hope next week is better for you and the pay and pain is sorted out for you x

Re: Teachers and phased return

Hi. Not a teacher but a nursery nurse so I hope you don't mined me  joining your thread. I work in F2 with 38 children in the class. 

I had chemo followed by WLE and lymph node clearence and then radiotherapy. I only got paid for the first 3 months but I was lucky that I wasn't depending on the money. I eventually talked my GP into letting me return to work in January ( after 10 months off ) and I had  finished my radiotherapy as I felt I needed to get back. The school wanted  me to do a phased return over 5 weeks but said if I'd been off with stress it could be over a longer period. I thought thanks very much so what I've been through and still going through is not as bad then.

I have to say that I am finding it really really hard and coming home at the end of the day shattered with terrible back ache and pain in my effected side. Today I was almost in tears because I felt so tired and in so much pain. To top it all I found out I haven't been paid since I returned in January. The school manager said she couldn't understand why as she sent my return to work certificate in but the finance dept at the council said they haven't had it. I really feel down tonight and just feel like going back to my GP and getting signed off again which she said she would do if I was finding it difficult. I hope I will feel better over the weekend and ready to face the new week on Monday.

Hope your planned return works for you.

Re: Teachers and phased return

Hello- I haven't posted on here for ages but saw your post and thought I would let you know what happened with my phased return to teaching, three years ago now.

First of all, I remain forever grateful for the generous Teachers' sick pay scheme, which gave me six months of full pay, and six months on half.  I needed to take all of it, as I had ha the full whammy of lumpectomy, full lymph node clearance, chemo then rads.  Complications meant I was still not properly robust enough to return to the rigours of the secondary classroom, but I had no choice as my pay would have stopped completely.

My doctor wrote on my return to work note, that he recommended a phased return over eight weeks, in view of my particular situation.  I think the average is around four weeks.

I was concerned that my pay would be reduced until I was back up to full time, but my school business manager explained that once I was back at work, phased return or not, I was entitled to go back immediately to my normal full time salary.

My school were brilliant, and they employed a Supply teacher qualified in my subject [MFL],  who took my lessons the days or part days, as I was building up to a normal timetable.  She team taught with me on the lessons I taught, so I cuold build up my stamina to the requirements of the classroom once again- as a year away from teaching is a lot in this profession! 

School sat down with me to discuss my timetable every two weeks, building it up gradually each fortnight.  They also let me have a classroom assistant in every class- not just my SEN ones.  I cannot tell you what a help it was to have another person helping me hand out resources, which sounds a trivial thing, but I was completely exhausted and wiped out by lunch time, and this extra help made such a difference.

I think teachers are not good at asking for help, as we are used to being self-sufficient in our classrooms, but I would urge you to take any help offered, as you soon forget after a break away, just how full-on the job is!

I hope this helps, and all good wishes for your phased return.

Teachers and phased return

I'm just wondering how many weeks were taken to phase back into work and what happened financially. I've finished chemo and about to start rads, so all this is on my mind now. I can't wait to get back to my job but don't want to be full time straight away.