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how long off work

18 REPLIES 18
Cracker77
Member

Re: how long off work

I took 4 weeks off after my WLE and SNB and returned to work in a secondary school. I built up my strength again by going for a decent walk every day managing a bit further each day. This was a good warm up before doing the arm and shoulder exercises. I work in a pastoral role and when I returned I avoided playground duties for fear of being bumped into as much as anything. Be careful to avoid any heavy lifting, I know what its like carrying stuff around school etc. I didn't have chemo but when radiotherapy started I managed the first week y having appointments at the end of the day but by the second week the appointments were all over the place and I needed to rest about an hour or so after the session finished and with allowing the time to travel to appointments it was easier to then arrange to have another 4 weeks off as I had 20 sessions of radiotherapy. I also wanted to avoid catching any bugs from school while on radiotherapy in case I needed to cough or sneeze while being blasted. Its tricky as they need to know for planning and cover but I found my school couldn't have been more helpful. It was great to get back though as being busy takes my mind off the constant thinking about BC. Good luck, as long as you keep school informed you will have to see how it goes, everyone is different. x
Lilac51
Member

Re: how long off work

I think you have to do what feels right for you. I'd have thought you would need about a month after surgery. I had surgery followed by chemo and rads. I work in social care and I can't fault the way I was treated by my employers. My manager wanted to me to go back to work during chemo but on my terms, that is, I would only go in to work when I felt well enough. That idea was scuppered by the woman I saw at Occupational Health who said she wouldn't recommend my returning to work until I had finished chemo and rads. I ended up having 12 months off work and was convinced I needed that time off and wouldn't have coped with my stressful job. I'd just got back to work on phased return when I had to take more time off to have risk reducing surgery. I had a mastectomy and the breast care nurse said I should be OK to to go back to work in about 2 weeks. Unfortunately (or luckily perhaps) they found a cancerous lump lurking in supposedly healthy tissue so I thought it was a case of 'Here we go again' and that I'd need chemo and rads again. This time, though, I knew what to expect and I intended to carry on working through my treatment as, with the benefit of hindsight, I really think it is doable with the right support. Thankfully,because it was caught early I didn't need any more treatment so I'm back at work now and enjoying it. While I was away from work I dreaded going back but now I'm here I'm really happy to be working and focussing on things other than breast cancer. I have to whinge a bit now and then as I get fed up with my chair disappearing mysteriously in the night (there's someone on duty at our place 24/7) and I have to hunt it down and put back to to the right height and back position. I feel OK but my arms tend to ache a lot.

Penny47
Member

Re: how long off work

I feel like a fossil! I've had two, very different, long-term sick experiences. (I am and always have been a local government or NHS employee) One was in 1995 as a knock-on from a rear-end collision to my car with resulting whiplash- my back finally gave out 4 months after and I was off work for 5 weeks. Then I had a recurrence in 2001, this time hardly able to walk with a slipped disc, and was off for 6 weeks. Both times I licked it with a regime including anti-inflammatories, Pilates and walking. The first time I had a phased reintroduction to work with an OH assessment in partnership with the Disablement Resettlement Officer. The employer spent about £500 (partially reimbursed by the Government) on special equipment for me-telephone earphones, a good adjustable chair, a ledger for me to do my written work on, and blocks under the desk to improve my sitting position. I was given the key to the rest room, so i could lie down as recommended for half and hour a day. Six years later I had a new employer. No OH assessment. No rest room (the law had changed and they didn't have to provide one) Open-plan office, hot-desking, so no possibiliity of desks on blocks. I did get earphones but my fellow employees resented my using them as they could never tell when I was on the phone. (this was before people got used to seeing mobile phone users seemingly talking to themselves in public). I felt so disabled by the over-crowded working conditions. I used to have to lie down on the floor under my desk partly blocking the gangway in order to rest. My boss told me to go home for rests- no great problem as I lived up the road. But I was chilled by how tight things had become, ironically at a time when employers were being encouraged to cater for the needs of disabled employees. Very little has changed in the intervening 12 years. The onus is on the employee rather than the employer, who only has to tick boxes for the insurors. I speak with experience of management- yes, we do have a duty of care but when push comes to shove, little can happen. So think for a minute how your workplace, boss, colleagues can smooth the way for you. Write the plot for yourself. I haven't had a Mx yet but my plan would include box files at low level, no long-haul journeys, and full hour meal breaks to allow for a rest or nap. My plan for returning during chemo would include the latter two plus a presumption that I won't go into germy environments eg prisons and children's wards in hospitals. I'm afraid that most employers would find this all too complicated and would prefer to see us just take more time off, and if so, go for it and if you feel bad about it you can always spend some time on Continuing Professional Development at home or at the Library...or the pub, in my case!
Guest user
Not applicable

Re: how long off work

It's up to you and how you are feeling. Everyone is different. I, too, worked in a school (was the Business Manager, i/c HR etc) and it's a complicated business. Schools are under pressure to perform, but by the same rule they are wanting to be seen as 'caring employers'.
I went into school for half days during my treatment, but that was a mistake. I wasn't fit and couldn't do my job. One of my teacher colleagues was dx and we negotiated a phased return to work. No supervision during breaks or lunchtimes, and no additional duties. A room to lay down when needed etc etc
You should have a risk assessment before you return, which lists all the negotiated duties etc.
Don't return until you're ready.
rhubarb
Member

Re: how long off work

Three weeks. The lumpectomy was not particularly painful but the lymph nodes was sore. I slept 2/3 of the day.
Suffolklady
Member

Re: how long off work

HI
I'm also a teacher and had WLE and ANC a week ago. Drain came out this morning and I feel so much better! Planning on going back to work next week. Missing the children and like artemis, I just want to find some element of 'normal' in my life! I guess we just have to go with how we feel. Work are being great which takes a great deal of pressure off. Good luck with it all X
artemis17
Member

Re: how long off work

Hi there,
I had a mastectomy and axilla clearance last friday 10th and am planning to go back to work after the bank holiday. Im making really good progress, but am/was very fit prior to surgery so have regained 80% movement already. My job is admin based so doesnrt require much physcial effort, being at home is driving me mad and i just want to get back to normal asap, although with chemo and radsiation therapy to follow i think i will only get 2 clear weeks before i get my first chemo treatment then it all depends on how i cope with that.
Guest user
Not applicable

Re: how long off work

Hi, I had two weeks off after both of my surgeries, the first was the lumpectomy and lymph node reversal and the second was to remove further breast tissue. I went back to work full time after these although there was only a few weeks in between the ops. I then worked full time until I started the chemo and had 6 months off for Chemo and Radiotherapy. xx
Guest user
Not applicable

Re: how long off work

I had my first lumpectomy last September and had two weeks off before returning to work full time which was fine, I then had to go back and have further breast tissue removed and had another two weeks off after that. I had lymph nodes removed in the first operation as well.
I hope that helps

Amanda x
drdspg
Member

Re: how long off work

It is very difficult to predict how much time any person will need, age, previous health, length of anaesthetic, physical and emotional support, further treatment, type of work will all be part of the equation. I had a bilateral mastectomy in May 2012 followed by rather complicated chemo and am still off work. HR and my boss am keen that I am off until at least November- post all treatment and surgery. I had thought I would be back last August..
Given the anaesthetic and the emotional shock of a cancer diagnosis it would seem to be sensible to be looking at at least 6 weeks post op if you arent having any further treatment AND DONT BEAT YOURSELF UP IF YOU DONT FEEL READY TO GO BACK. I am a fine one to say this but I still think it's good advce!

catseye
Member

Re: how long off work

You are absolutely entitled to rant, this is a very stressful time.
I wish hospitals realised how traumatic each further wait can be and how annoying it is when appointments are rescheduled seemingly at whim, when we have made strenuous efforts to make sure we can attend them. My last Onc appointment was changed four times, (only a check up but still very irritating,as I had to keep rearranging work, as did my husband). I tell myself hospitals are huge organisations and that they are not doing it to annoy us but...... Now I'm ranting!!!
I'm sure it's been said before, but try and fill your time with nice things, eat well and rest well too, it will help with your post op recovery if you are as fit as possible beforehand. Best wishes for next Thursday. x
samjs
Member

Re: how long off work

Hi Annie C,
Work are being great, it's me who need sto know because I am a complete control freak and cannot stand now being iin control. Maybe I should accept my life is out of my hands for now. Feeling really croos today. Had an appointment with BBC this afternoon so did a half day, OH had whole day off as he works in London only to get a call at 1pm saying my appointment had been rescheduled for next Thursday as the MRi report wasn't complete. I an annoyed as OH is self employed and lost a lot of money today and also as I now have another week to wind myself up.

Sorry feel like I am ranting!
Sam xx
Guest user
Not applicable

Re: how long off work

my treatment started with chemo dec 11-apr12, mastectomy & lymp clearance may 12 followed by radio aug 12. I was off work from 19 dec (day before chemo started) to 25 jan 13. The op was the easiest part of treatment with no complications or infections. I thought I would have been back much sooner, but even now struggle with 3 days instead of five. I work with young kids too and you need lots of energy. If your work are putting pressure on speak to your union rep for advice. Your work has a duty of care to you. There were some folk who had a better experience of chemo than me who were able to get back to work much quicker than me. Everybody is different, their treatment and responses are different. Take it one steep at a time and you'll get to the finish line. All the best. Annie c x
samjs
Member

Re: how long off work

I am a teacher to 5-7 year olds so it's a pretty full on job. Work are being supportive, the head teacher has already said that I will need a long period of time off for different things (he knows alot as his wife is cancer nurse).
Well I go today and will speak to consultant and see what he suggests.

SAm x
Zuzy
Member

Re: how long off work

Hi Sam, I had lumpectomy and SNB then full clearance 5 weeks later, had 2 weeks off after each, went back both times on reuced hours, as others say it depends a lot on what you do, how far you ave to travel to ge there etc Good luck with your op xxx
catseye
Member

Re: how long off work

Hi,
I was told to take four weeks off, and certainly didn't feel right much before that. I was intending to go back for a time before the chemo, but it followed straight on, with no gap. Then four weeks after that finished the rads started, so all in all in was a bit under a year!! I think decisions have to be made as you go along, and as your treatment plan evolves. It is difficult to know how you will feel. Hopefully your work place will allow you some flexibility. If possible, do not rush back before you are ready. Give your body time to recover. Good luck with your treatment.
Guest user
Not applicable

Re: how long off work

I'm 3 weeks post op and still not ready to go back, have got another week off which I'm glad of. A lot depends on the type of job you do I guess, and what your treatment plan is afterwards. I'll probably go back for a week or 2 then off again for next stage of treatment...
Guest user
Not applicable

Re: how long off work

Very much depends on the individual and the sickness policy paid sick leave etc but please do not return to work too soon if you overdo it you risk getting lympodema my bc nurse told me as my job is very physical to expect to take 6 to 8 weeks off you are protected too by the disability at work act and I believe the breast cancer site has a booklet that covers this your bc nurse should be able to point you in the right direction hope this helps and take carex
samjs
Member

how long off work

I get my op date tomorrow and I know everyone is an individual but how long have people taken off work following a lumpectomy and nodes removal? Just want to give work soem idea of how long I may be off for?

Thanks

SAm