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Working during treatment

Has anyone else been able to work during treatment? During my first diagnosis, I was still able to work part time throughout most of it successfully. Granted there were times I wasn't able to, but overall I was able to keep a small amount of income coming in. Naturally with my second primary diagnosis, I expected the same. I did keep working at first, but became far too sick. I know my job currently is safe, but it's been nearly 2 years since I was able to work. I'm not in remission yet, but it's looking promising that after some time on Zometa that I will be. Because of this, my work is starting to push me to come back ASAP, but between counselling, physio, occupational therapy, course of Zometa every 3 weeks, I'm not ready. Plus, I'm scared to go back.

Anyone else been able to get through this successfully or experience the same thing? How about working during treatment?

Comments

  • 20 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • I was in high school during thyroid treatment. But it's less intense compared to treatments for a lot of other cancers. I had surgery (which luckily was during the summer) and then I missed about a week of school for radiation treatment. That happened three more times for radiation scans - I think it was like a Monday/Tuesday/Thursday schedule. The worst part was they took me off the thyroid pill two weeks before so I would be super tired in school and it was hard to get through the day without falling asleep sometimes ;) I think I worked at my part-time job too, just rearranged my schedule. Looking back I am not sure how I did that because I was SO tired/exhausted from being off the thyroid pill! (School would've been enough!) I know school is not exactly the same thing as work, and I was also able to do a lot of it at home which was nice, but I thought I would post anyway.

    Maybe you can ease back in starting with maybe a few hours the first few days, then half a day, then a full day? I had surgery this summer and that's what I ended up doing with my job. It was a lot easier and I think they realized I could only come in for that long, otherwise I would've had to wait another week or two to come back. I didn't have a very physically strenuous job (clinical research so I just sat in an office all day and did statistics/mined data) but I was still exhausted mentally after the first day! It's hard to go back when you're not used to it.
  • My chemo was given every 2 weeks - if my job hadn't had long-term disability coverage I would probably have been able to work every day but Chemo Day and maybe 2 days after, depending on the work of course. A desk job would have definitely been fine - I spent most of my time off here at my desk anyway, and it might have stopped my compulsive comfort-eating.
  • as a fire fighter, I was completely unable to work during my treatments...I did go back to work still using my feeding tube though. that was a fun party trick around the fire house :)
  • CareyCarey Community Member
    I'm a police officer and I worked in the office during my chemo. It was a nice change from the pace of field work. I had to go out on disability for a Bone Marrow Transplant and spent over a year out. I just went back last month, still doing office work, but it's been a really rough transition. I hope to be able to get back to field work someday. If not, my career will be something else cancer took from me.
  • Carey;988 said:
    I'm a police officer and I worked in the office during my chemo. It was a nice change from the pace of field work. I had to go out on disability for a Bone Marrow Transplant and spent over a year out. I just went back last month, still doing office work, but it's been a really rough transition. I hope to be able to get back to field work someday. If not, my career will be something else cancer took from me.

    This is slightly off topic, but, one of my BMT nurses was actually a former police officer.


    I was in high school when I was diagnosed. Due to my orthopedic issues, I couldn't physically go to school. I tried online high school during treatment. I managed to complete one class, but I was generally too sick to concentrate on it. Wound up just scrapping the year and starting fresh when I was done. I think my case was a little complicated by not being able to walk, and I think work ability probably varies widely from person to person.
  • DMMDMM Community Member
    With my first diagnosis I was just out of work for seven weeks to recoup from surgery, I didn't have chemo or radiation for this first time around. It's funny, as stressful as it was to be diagnosed with cancer in my mid 20's, those seven weeks off from work was the most peaceful time in my entire life because I didn't have to take care of anyone else or deal with anyone elses problem just only had to worry about myself. At that time I was working as a counselor and then as a case manager in a drug rehab for MICA (Mentally Ill Chemically Addicted) patients...it was hard to go back to work. I'm still not sure if it was the stressful job...the fact I had cancer which changed my whole outlook on life and what I wanted...or maybe a combination of the two. Well in any case, I lost my edge...I just didn't have the emotional energy to work the extra long stressful hours. After a couple of more years I eventually left my job at the hospital and went to work for good old corporate America. I went back to school part time and got an MBA degree.

    I started to get sick with what all the doctors thought was IBS (for close to 8yrs!)...eventually was able to get a work at home position with my company which was good because it was difficult working in a office when I didn't feel good, which after awhile was all the time. After getting really sick where I stopped eating solid foods for over a month and a half in the summer 2009, I was finally diagnosed with the second cancer. Nine days after my emergency surgery I was back to work, thank goodness I work from home and could use my laptop while sitting in bed...although I must have been really sick in the head to go back so quickly...I blame the malnutrition and dehydration for screwing up my brain! About six weeks later I started my six month stint of chemo. I worked through most of my chemo (was a big struggle though), took half days off every other Wednesday when I had to get my "big chemo" and then the following two days I had to wear a portable chemo pump at home. After I got disconnected from the pump on Friday afternoons, I would just end up sleeping most of the weekend. Halfway through chemo I broke my ankle which made things even more difficult. I ended up taking five weeks of disability around my last two rounds of chemo because the fatigue, chemo brain and neuropathy was making working so difficult. I finished chemo about 10 months ago, the brain is functioning much better, the hands/fingers are finally functioning enough where I can feel the keys on the keyboard and don't have to look at it to type and I'm not as fatigued as I was so working isn't as bad, but I'm still not totally right.....still don't have a lot of energy or my full muscle strength back, walking is still a bit difficult and I feel very ADD at times. I am finding now I really rely on my Outlook calendar to remind me to do different things other than just using it for conference call reminders. I started using the Outlook calendar because I was constantly losing all my post it notes. Damn chemo brain!
  • DMMDMM Community Member
    Jason Mlot;989 said:
    This is slightly off topic, but, one of my BMT nurses was actually a former police officer.

    A little more slightly off topic..when I worked in Mental Health, I worked with a number of nurses who were former police officers or former military.
  • DMMDMM Community Member
    Carey;988 said:
    I'm a police officer and I worked in the office during my chemo. It was a nice change from the pace of field work. I had to go out on disability for a Bone Marrow Transplant and spent over a year out. I just went back last month, still doing office work, but it's been a really rough transition. I hope to be able to get back to field work someday. If not, my career will be something else cancer took from me.

    Just give it some time and be patient...not just with the whole job thing but with yourself. I think sometimes we survivors forget to be patient with ourselves (I blame the chemo! :) Well at least I know its true for myself anyway. I know I have rushed myself in trying to be "normal" again and that thinking just really set myself up. Hopefully you will be able to get back into field work someday. But if some reason you don't, please don't let it kick you in the ass. As the way I look at it, don't give cancer the satisfaction! I have had two different careers (and 2 different cancers) and I am contemplating reinventing myself again (hopefully without getting a 3rd cancer!) and seeing if I can somehow combine my hospital experience and corporate experience....I don't know maybe go into hospital administration or something in public health. We shall see. Although I need to give myself time because I just don't have the energy (emotional or physical) to make another big change just yet. Hang in there!
  • Ldr12Ldr12 Community Member
    It has been really frustrating for me. I know I will be able to work again eventually, somewhat, but not the level I was at. And as for going to school at the same time? I can't even think about it. Anxiety is getting the best of me lately because I feel so unproductive to society... I guess to me it's not the same as going to physio and actually getting better. But I'm definitely working on that as well. The need to be able to support myself is always important to me, but I know I'm not the same person. I need to be patient, but sometimes it just drives me crazy!
  • I wish I was able to work right now! I just returned to work in November after a year of maternity leave, was able to work for 4 weeks and then was diagnosed. Now I am on disability. I work as an ICU nurse in a very acute busy unit. I miss all the adrenaline rushes and satisfaction of helping the very sick and their families through life threatening illnesses. Because of the nature of my work I cannot nurse while undergoing treatment. Instead I have taken up knitting, and am making some of the ugliest hats you have ever seen!! No money there :) I must say that this royally sucks being on the other side right now!
  • CareyCarey Community Member
    Ugly hats rule. I took up a bunch of different hobbies and activities to fill my time. I know what it's like missing the adrenaline rush of working in a fast paced dynamic job. I ended up watching a lot of The First 48 and other police shows because I missed the work so much. Before I got sick, I couldn't stand shows like that.
  • Cancer Can NEVER...
    Carey;988 said:
    I'm a police officer and I worked in the office during my chemo. It was a nice change from the pace of field work. I had to go out on disability for a Bone Marrow Transplant and spent over a year out. I just went back last month, still doing office work, but it's been a really rough transition. I hope to be able to get back to field work someday. If not, my career will be something else cancer took from me.

    I would not look at not being to be able to go back out on the beat as something cancer took away from you. Instead I would look at it as opening a door on an opprtunity within Law Enforcement that you might like as much as being on the beat or something you might like even more.

    I am sure the department has a Public Affairs Department. Maybe you could look into working in Programs such as DARE, maybe trying to start a program to keep kids out of gangs and out of the cycle of violence. I am sure you might have an idea that you might want to forward to a Superior to enhance the profile of the Police Department in coimmunity you serve in.

    There are many thing that cancer, and other health issues have taken away from me. I know however the positives still ouweight the negatives. Hopefully you will eventually see it in that way.
  • I work But It is Not Always Easy.
    Ldr12;966 said:
    Has anyone else been able to work during treatment? During my first diagnosis, I was still able to work part time throughout most of it successfully. Granted there were times I wasn't able to, but overall I was able to keep a small amount of income coming in. Naturally with my second primary diagnosis, I expected the same. I did keep working at first, but became far too sick. I know my job currently is safe, but it's been nearly 2 years since I was able to work. I'm not in remission yet, but it's looking promising that after some time on Zometa that I will be. Because of this, my work is starting to push me to come back ASAP, but between counselling, physio, occupational therapy, course of Zometa every 3 weeks, I'm not ready. Plus, I'm scared to go back.

    Anyone else been able to get through this successfully or experience the same thing? How about working during treatment?


    I began treatment in September. I did not go back to work until late November, due to a streph infection in my blood. I spent a month off my chemo and have been working part-time 20 hrs a week to sustain my Company Health Insurence,since I started back to work.

    Working only four hours a day helps a great deal with my stamina. although the Oral Chemo(Xeloda) can tire me out and I need to be especially careful since I am prone to epileptic seizure not related to my Cancer Dx's.

    All thing being equal I believe that a person can work but only they can determine if they can and how long they can work on a daily and weekly basis.

    Hopefully barring any setbacks I'll be off my chemo not too long after my Birthday in late April.

    Now that will be a cool Birthday present:)

  • i was diagnosed in september and have been able to work during chemo. i have my last round next thursday (yay!) and am taking six weeks off for surgery and to prep for radiation. my job has been (mostly) understanding, but not thrilled that i'm taking an extended time off. i figure i can always find another job, but i only have one chance to get healthy!!!
  • nicolegnicoleg Community Member
    I worked thur my chemo treatment. Actually the week I started back to work after 8 weeks off for surgery I also started chemo so I went to work on mon and then wed did chemo and was off thurs fri, I was usually very tired the day after but I would be really sick fri sat sun but come monday I felt good enough to go back to work, I also coached soccer during treatment, I just couldn't help but want to be out there... my lil soccer girls knew when I wasnt feeling good cause I would have my cane to keep me up and one of the moms bought me an umbrella since I wasnt supposed to be in the sun everyone was really great about taking care of be, but believe me I was so exausted by the end of the day... I probably should of given myself more time to rest but mentally I dont think it would been good...

    hang in there... I still have chemo brain too! And I also have alarms for everything and I forget lots of stuff... so dont worry your def not alone!
  • Ldr12Ldr12 Community Member
    I started back at work part time this week. It's been a really exhausting transition because I'm still on Zometa, plus I have physio and counselling. I don't know what to do with my swimming head. The work is easy because it's repetitive, but I feel so stupid that I'm asking all of these questions and still have to ask everyone who they are. I feel like I can't remember anything. I know it will get easier, but it's frustrating. I wish I could just work and go to school, but right now that doesn't even seem possible like it was before. I don't know. I'm just upset.
  • CareyCarey Community Member
    I went back to work in December. I thought I was ready. I felt good for a few weeks, but I began to bottom out. My energy is now so low and I've been so depressed, I'm going back out on disability. I learned that I should have taken much time to recover. Don't push yourself too hard too fast.
  • I had surgery in January of this year. Took 2 weeks off and was back to work for a lil bit. Found out from the biopsy that I needed radiation and to the surprise of my "professionals", as I call them, I worked through 3 weeks of radiation. At that point I went on FML for the rest of treatment (4 Weeks) and an additional 4 weeks of recovery. I've been back working for the last 4 weeks and it gets easier each week.
  • :pAs some may know I was diagnosed about one Year ago with Colon Cancer. I was fortunate that I was able to work while I was in treatment. Due to various reasons I decided to take the oral form of 5-FU, Xeloda. That and the fact that I was only going to work Four Hours a day Five days a week definately made things easier. The Xeloda caused me to be extremely tired and I tried to sleep about 2 hours after comming home from work.

    Amazingly in the six months I was taking the Xeloda I lost just 8 1/2 days!! Even in oral form I was expecting to lose more days than I actually did:o
  • I work in a call center (IT helpdesk) and worked with my manager and HR department to be able to work from home and go on intermittent FMLA, meaning if I had doctors appointments and wasn't able to work or if I was sick I used FMLA. My oncologist limited the time I did work per day so I ended up using FMLA every day, but it helped TREMENDOUSLY to know that if I felt bad I had the option to rest and make up the hours if I chose to. I would try doing something like that to keep you in the loop if you can.