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Time off work thoughts

PeggyPeggy Posts: 2


My Oncologist and my GP both said to take a year off after end of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment for breast cancer. I notice a lot of people go back to work much sooner. I’m 8 months post treatment and feel no way near ready for going back to work. The problem with my job is as a support worker for adults with learning disabilities it involves long shifts 10 to 15 hours with no breaks plus an overnight sleep in. I know work has to make adjustments but if they did it would cause a lot of complications with shifts and disrupt the other staff as working split shifts would be far from ideal for them. Has anyone else been in a similar situation but managed to work long hours? I’m quite anxious that recovery has not been as quick as I expected. I’m fine pottering around and going for walks but suffer a lot from fatigue and joint and muscle pain. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be fit enough to return to such a demanding job but I’m hoping that I will be able to because it is a job I like and the company I work for are very decent or am I being unrealistic in thinking I will ever be fit enough.


  • LouiseJLouiseJ Posts: 789 ✭✭✭✭✭


    Hi Peggy,

    Welcome to the community, it is lovely to 'meet' you.

    Firstly, it is wonderful to hear you have successfully come through a cancer diagnosis and all the treatment that entails. It really is good news.

    You are not alone in feeling unprepared to return to your job, it is still very early days for you post cancer.

    Recovery from all the treatments can take a lot longer than we realise, and the side effects that we are presented with afterwards are also challenging!

    Some people say they are able to return to their pre-cancer life which is fantastic, but not everyone is the same. We are all different, our journey's through cancer are different, even if the same cancer. Of course there are many similarities, but we are all unique in how cancer has affected us. Please don't compare yourself to anyone else, they are not you, and have not been in your shoes.

    I felt the same as you, I was not ready to return to work, but I also felt guilty about the extra pressure my colleagues were under due to my absence, and planning was difficult. I used to work in a school. But having cancer allowed me to re-evaluate my life, and think about the way forward. Plus I was suffering from post chemo and radiotherapy side-effects and the fatigue and joint and muscle pain just seemed to get worse not better! I'd felt better during chemo! I wasn't expecting that to happen.

    Time is a great healer, not just a cliché, you need to be kind to yourself, listen to your mind and body, and allow yourself time to heal and recover. Not just physically, but emotionally and mentally too. You have been through a tremendous ordeal, that is an understatement! The fallout from cancer is wide-reaching, it can take us by surprise.

    Perhaps nearer the time having a detailed chat with your employers, they sound very understanding too, about the changes that can be made if you decide to reduce your hours etc.

    There is a discussion under What's on your mind today' called 'Life and living after cancer' it may be a help to you.

    I will try and post a link below, but it doesn't always work haha!

    This is a very friendly supportive group and very understanding. I hope you will find it so.

    I look forward to chatting with you,

    Lou x


  • PeggyPeggy Posts: 2

    Hi Lou, thank you for your helpful reply. It is reassuring that you consider it early days still. I think because people think once you are finished treatment that it’s all over and to be fair that’s what I expected too especially as the treatment went so smoothly and I recovered from each cycle so well, now it seems I’m getting worse. Work have been good but they did mention someone else recovering from cancer was coming back to work soon which although i’m pleased for them does make me feel a bit guilty but like you say we are all different. I’m sure it wasn’t their intention to make me feel guilty just my own insecurities. Thanks for the link x

  • LouiseJLouiseJ Posts: 789 ✭✭✭✭✭


    Hi Peggy,

    Oh yes, that is definitely how it seems sometimes. It’s like ‘ ok, cancer has gone, treatment has finished, you can resume life as normal, like before!’....uhh..NO!! I don’t think so! It’s not like that at all! We are just as surprised as our friends , families and colleagues when it doesn’t turn out like we all think.

    Little bit naughty of your employers to mention another colleague returning! Out of order. They should know better, and probably was unintentional, but still, their training and position should have kicked into be more sensitive. Try not to let that bother you, you have your own path of recovery.

    I understand about the feeling worse bit, I felt the same, and it was infuriating! Take it day by day, you can’t go faster than the day you are in!

    I hope you are having a good day,

    Lou x

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