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Working during chemo?

19 REPLIES 19
Giddy
Member

Re: Working during chemo?

Hi
Thank you everyone for your advice and good wishes 🙂 It's interesting how everyone's experiences of chemo are so different.
My boss has been very good and said to take each day as it comes. I'll ask the onc tomorrow what he thinks and then talk to my boss again to see if any changes can be made. Fingers crossed!
Chris xx

Guest user
Not applicable

Re: Working during chemo?

Hi Giddy

I would say it depends on how you feel about working, what type of work you do and what kind of environment you work in. Also, whether there are any options to work part time or work from home and what your family circumstances are (eg if you have kids, you might feel that's enough responsibility while you deal with chemo).

If you want to work then I think it's good to have some kind of normal life, but don't feel guilty if you don't. My BCN wanted me to take time off but onc is very keen on me working.

I have worked most of the time through 4 x FEC and hoping to continue but I'm about to go on TAX so will have to see how it goes. I took just under a week off for most of them except for the 2nd when I had an extra day off as I had a cough, so might have had an infection and had to take ABs in case. I've also been lucky enough to get a laptop so I can work from home when it suits me, which is great for the days when I feel good but the immune system is low and I can avoid the office.

supertrouper
Member

Re: Working during chemo?

I haven't worked from the day I was diagnosed. Doctor has signed me off for 3 month periods and next one finishes in February. I had changed jobs three months prior to dx so was only entitled to 3 months full pay and then went onto half pay for three months then SSP which finished at the end of December 2011. I know of people who worked during their chemo but because I came into contact with the public I was considered to be at risk so not allowed to work. I did continue to do some voluntary work but that was from home and didn't bring me into contact with germs but allowed the old grey matter to be used to some degree!!

Lizzy1977
Member

Re: Working during chemo?

I'm having 3 x FEC and 3 x TAX and so far I have had 4 lots of chemo. I have found that I need a week off after each treatment and then go back to work until my next treatment. I work in a pretty big office and so far I have managed to avoid infection.
Lizzy

moser
Member

Re: Working during chemo?

Hi Giddy and all

I worked through chemo twice - once 6xFEC, the second 6xTax. I am also a teacher (of adults) and took one week off following the chemo each cycle and then worked more or less normally. It DID get harder throughout the period, and i was lucky in that I did not pick up any infections at all. I was full time on both occasions. I WANTED to work - it made me feel more normal, but there were a few times if i'm honest when i wondered why the **** I was doing it. So listen to your body (and mind too) and good luck with wheatever you decide!

Love, Mo

alexc23
Member

Re: Working during chemo?

Hi

I was able to work through most of my chemo I had 3 Fec / 3 tax, I went back to work as I started chemo (had been off for 3 months as 4 surgeries) and luckily for me didnt have horrendous se's. Everyones different though, chemo fine, but 3 weeks into my rads, went way down and needed 4 weeks off.

If you do manage to work, just bear in mind your going to have ups and downs, I had periods of 'fec head' where everything was an effort and took twice as long and times when on steroids when I was like roadrunner on speed and everyone round me had to try and keep up.

Main thing is be kind to yourself, listen to your body and your mind and don't do too much.

look after yourself, good luck and best wishes

xx

BrainyBlonde
Member

Re: Working during chemo?

Hi,

I wasn't given the option as the oncologist just immediately signed me off sick for 6 months! I didn't question this at the time as I just assumed that this was the normal procedure. I was schedule to have 4 months chemo to shrink the Grade 3 tumours prior to mastectomy and radiotherapy so I assume that, as everyone's treatment is slightly different it might depend on that.

As it was I would have found it very difficult to work in any case as my job is an hour's drive each way and also involved quite a bit of international and national travel.

I tried to continue to contribute remotely for a while but, to be honest, when I changed to Tax chemo I sort of 'lost interest' in anything except my immediately surroundings and situation.

I was lucky as I got 4 months full pay and then went on to 4 months half pay but if that had not been the case I don't really know what I would have done.

The problem with chemo is that you need to keep away from germs and that would be harder to do in some jobs than others. Everyone is different in the way they react to chemo too.

Jan
x

Guest user
Not applicable

Re: Working during chemo?

Hi Giddy,
like the ladies say everyone is different,also everyone has chemotherapy to fit them ie: how advanced the cancer is how aggresive
they deem it to be.
I am another one who could not work,my chemo floored me,I couldn't even walk,I couldn't even get downstairs,I was just too ill.
I was sleeping 17 hours a day and in between so you can't work when your sleeping lol,but no I was far too ill to work,I know someone who did continue to work,but she worked from home allot of the time.
Whatever you decide I wish you the best of luck you may not be able to decide your body might decide for you. xxxxxxx

Guest user
Not applicable

Re: Working during chemo?

Hi ladies,

This thread interests me as I am a teacher, about to begin four months of chemo. I am not going to be working, in fact I have been off since my dx just before Christmas, but wondered what I will be doing... I know I will need to rest and ensure I get better but do you have any tips or hints? If you were a non-worker what did you do with any time you felt okay? Wondering about learning a new skill/ dress making...

Any thoughts welcome. Joanna. X

Cackles
Member

Re: Working during chemo?

I like everybody who is posting here, feel that you have to decided when you find out how your body will cope with the drugs. Everyone reacts so differently to chemo. I had FEC-D and if I worked nearby and in the appropriate job I could have managed to go in through FEC. I don't think I could have done the same through the tax. My legs gave way, I was breathless on exertion, and felt faint sometimes. Really only the first three and last four days of the cycle were anything like normality. The type of work you do and it's enviroment also colour the picture. You will have little resistance to any infection for quite a lot of the time.
I am now on Radiotherapy and feel so much better. While you are having the chemo I don't think you appreciate how exhausted you are....the fatigue has become the new "norm" . If you don't need to work, then take it one day at a time and see how things are, not just physically but mentally too.
Best wishes for your treatment
Cackles

schmooley
Member

Re: Working during chemo?

I managed to work part time all through my treatment. I had just come back from six months maternity leave and really wanted to be back at work. I had E-CMF x 8. At first I worked Mon-Fri 10.00 - 2pm. I always tried to have my chemo on a tuesday. If my apt was in the afternoon, I worked in the morning and then went to hospital. By having my chemo on a tuesday my worse days on the epi were always at the weekend. When I was on the CMF i just felt queasy the whole time, so just worked through it. By the time I got to radiotherapy my boss wanted me to change my hours so I swapped to Wed-Fri 10.4pm and now I do this all of the time and another lady does the Mon-Tues.

I am lucky I do enjoy my job and work in a small office although I also deal with the public. To be honest I never worried much about the germ thing but maybe I was just being naive but luckily I was ok.

If I had still been working for a bank which I had done previously for twenty years I would have just taken the (paid) time off as that job was more stressful and I wouldn't have been able to handle it.

Probably just best to see how you get on

xxx

ChoccieMuffin
Member

Re: Working during chemo?

Wow, RevCat, look at you, you glamourpuss! FAB hairdo1

As for working, I think you ought to discuss with work whether there's something you could do that doesn't have quite as much contact with people as working on reception. If you can deal with telephone reception duties from elsewhere, would that be possible? If they're on your side in all of this they'll probably try their best to adapt your working environment so that they get to have you there and you get to protect yourself.

I managed to work on and off through some of chemo but in a couple of cycles got hit by chemo brain so it's debatable just how much use I was. And chemo week was a bit of a write-off as I needed to have lots of naps during the day and usually had sofa days where getting up to go to the loo was about the most I could deal with.

RevCat
Member

Re: Working during chemo?

This a really imteresting thread, and as one of those lucky ones who worked all through chemo (3FEC 100 - 3T very similar to DJ except the Tax truck did not hit me so hard), I am conscious that among the 'guilt trips' people get are (a) that they are either not ill enough because they are working or (b) that they ought to be working because so-and-so did.

I discussed with my onc whether or not it was safe to wrrk, and also with church... one of the 'perks' of my job is there are no set working hours, and it was possible for me to say 'I will do x but not y'. So, I stopped dropping into toddlers and Sunday School or visiting sick people, but carried on preaching, leading small groups and chairing meetings. The funniest moment I had was one Sunday evening when someone else was leading and I sat in church at my 'white cell low' point and our resident oncology professor came and sat behind me... sniffing and sneezing. Suffice to say I moved to a different spot and he admitted he probably should have stayed away!

I found that church folk generally understood what was what and were just thrilled I kept working as much as I did. I hope you find a balance for you that is workable and that your side effects are copable.

janipi
Member

Re: Working during chemo?

This is an interesting thread. I had FECT 100 x6 and after each was hospitalised for neutropenia so working was never an option for me. I am a teacher so little people and their germs were a no go. I remember having a discussion with my GP about working through chemo. She said although emotionally it would be better to keep some normality in your life, sometimes the risks aren't worth it. It certainly doesn't help if you think you should work and you can't. I feel I've given a whole year to BC and treatment and even now I'm not back to my former fitness. I've just had to accept it and I don't live to work anymore I work to live. I really admire those who can work through chemo though, but it just wasn't ok for me.
Good luck to all. Chemo is a helluva shock to your body whether SE's are good or bad so be kind to yourselves 🙂 x

Guest user
Not applicable

Re: Working during chemo?

Hi giddy

It is true everyone is different. I have taken a week off after every treatment and found this to be enough. I work in an office and and my boss was very understanding he set me up in my own office to reduce risk of infection from others and have left early when needed to. It can be tiring so u just need to listen to ur body and do what u thinks best. Working has helped keep me sane tho. Best of luck, hope u sail thru with minimal probs x

Giddy
Member

Re: Working during chemo?

Thank you all for the advice 🙂 I think taking each day as it comes seems to be the best thing. I work in a family centre but I'm mainly on reception so I'll see what the onc advises.
Chris xx

Guest user
Not applicable

Re: Working during chemo?

Hi Giddy, as the others have said it really depends on how u feel & what job u do. I work in a GP surgery but in a office so i didn't have to go near the patients when they're ill. My onc was quite happy with that. I took the whole week off after each chemo & did 4 mornings on the following 2 weeks leading up to the next one. This suited me fine, it wasn't too tiring as i then rested each afternoon. It helped keep me sane & feeling normal to go to work but if i wasn't up to it then i didnt go in. I would just say listen to your body & don't overdo it.

DJ007
Member

Re: Working during chemo?

Hi Giddy

The first thing to consider is your working environment. If you meet lots of different people/members of the public, your onc might feel that the risk of infection is too high and recommend that you stay away.

I work in a small office and everyone knew about my treatment and so I could avoid germs and I carried on working whenever I could.

As Mal says, chemo affects everyone differently - I was one of the lucky ones who had relatively small SEs.

I had FEC-T chemo. My first two cycles I took the chemo day and the day after off, worked two half days and then was pretty much back to full time - If I got tired I went home a bit early. The third cycle I felt a bit more queasy and took four days off, worked short days for a few more days, then back to normal. The steroids, rather than the chemo, got me on my first taxotere and I took nearly two weeks off! My final cycles of taxotere, they reduced my steroids and were more like my third cycle of FEC - but I was getting increasingly tired.

Good luck!
Dx

Guest user
Not applicable

Re: Working during chemo?

Hi Giddy

You need to see how you get on. Everyone responds differently. I was determined to carry on as much as normal and get into work as much as possible.

I worked all through chemo and just had a day or two off each cycle. It was a mistake. I really wasn't fit to work. By lunchtime I had hit a 'brick wall' and just had to go home to bed. I was a manager and people came in for meetings with me, but I had my head on the desk and simply couldn't see them. Radiation was a lot better for me and I could function (but not very well).

You could sail through chemo (and I hope you do) but don't bank on it. I truly wish I'd taken the doctor's advice and waited until the treatment was over.

I know it's difficult. I just wanted to be as normal as possible and carry on working, but it's not a normal situation, and you don't feel normal.

Give yourself some healing time before facing the world.
Mal

Giddy
Member

Working during chemo?

Hi
I was wondering whether anyone was able to work during the chemo or how many days they needed off? I know it effects everyone differently but I thought it'd be good to get an idea. Thanks 🙂