• Has anyone been able to work while getting chemo?

    Asked by packerbacker on Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    Has anyone been able to work while getting chemo?

    The chemo doc presented my case to the tumor board and the PET scan shows at least one questionable lymph node in my chest, so they recommend chemo, which I will start 7/27/12. We need my income for the insurance and just to get by. I'm really afraid if I can't work while I get the chemo! Last year and the beginning of this year, I used a lot of short term disability from my first chemo treatment. I had to be off due to pain medications because I'm a nurse in a hospital. My boss has been very understanding and said he will work on accommodating my needs. I know it will be difficult. I guess I want reassurance that it can be done. This is of great concern to me. I will be getting 5-FU, Cetuximab, and Carboplatin.

    12 Answers from the Community

    12 answers
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      Each person is different, I had to take off two days after each treatment, then I went back to work. I wasn't as productive as usual, but I was their, and done about 75% of my job. Others I have talked to have worked right through with no problems.

      One of the treatments I had wasn't as bad as the other combo. I don't remember the different drugs I had, but one group of them I had on alternating visits didn't affect me near as bad as the other.

      I hope you do well.

      over 4 years ago
    • Bellamore's Avatar

      I wasn't planning on going back after I had a hepatic artery infusion pump implanted. It took me a full three months to recover from that. But once I was up on my feet and feeling great I went to visit the crew at work and they offered me my job back on any terms I wanted. So I work 4 days a week from 9 to 2:30. Chemo through the pump has no side effects so that's a breeze. But periodically I have to have system chemo, but it's scheduled so i have my minor "reaction" on the weekends. Going back to work has saved my sanity. The thing I do suffer from is Chemo Brain, so i have to be alot more diligent. Hope you do well.

      over 4 years ago
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      I think in your case, since you work as a hospital nurse, the bigger issue is not whether you are able to work, but whether you should work in that capacity. Since your chemo with significantly lower your WBC count you will be much more susceptible to infection anyway, and working with sick people makes that risk skyrocket. Do you have the option of doing desk work or other functions that don't require direct contact with hospital patients?

      over 4 years ago
    • Nancebeth's Avatar

      I have been working all the through my chemo which I started in May. I work until 1 on Fridays, get chemo at 2 and then go back to work on Monday. It all depends on what kind of chemo you are receiving.

      over 4 years ago
    • blondie's Avatar

      Give your supervisor a recent lab report and see if your immune systen can handle exposure to germs. Maybe you can wear a mask and gloves to minimize exposure.

      Maybe you can update charts, stock supplies, confirm insurance information over the phone, call in prescription request / refills to the local pharmacy.

      over 4 years ago
    • mgm48's Avatar

      I can only add that I have worked full time since Day 1 of Chemo. My doctors recommended that I drink a lot of water and exercise. So Following those recommendations, I have been nearly side effect free. I will admit that one other thing does make a significant difference - attitude. With a positive attitude, some minor icky feelings are just that minor. With a less positive attitude they become debilitating. If you "need" to work and the boss is supportive, then put on the mind over matter hat and decide for yourself that you will make it work. Good luck.
      Keep it positive and Smile:)

      over 4 years ago
    • Bashiemn's Avatar

      I didn't work for the first several months of chemo, but then when I felt that I had enough energy, and when my bloodwork showed that I was not staying in the below normal counts I was cleared to work part time and "as tolerated". My company was very helpful when I was able to go back to work they let me play it be ear.

      That said, I had LTD insurance so that helped, and I went on COBRA for a couple of months, which was expensive, but we just cut back on everything else.

      In the beginning there was no way that I could work, but I was also recovering from surgery, illness, and was on intensive chemo (3 days in a row) and had medical appointments basically every day of the week for a while.

      Once I was working I scheduled my infusions on Friday so that I had the weekend to recover and could be back to work on Monday.

      over 4 years ago
    • Cindy's Avatar

      I only took a few days off for each of my first chemo treatments. I took about 2 weeks off after my last chemo treatment since the side affects got worse with each one. I work at a desk job with a private office and work 4 ten-hour days per week. I requested that no sick people come into my office.

      over 4 years ago
    • danellsar's Avatar

      My husband was a high school teacher. He was able to work through the first months of his treatment for esophageal cancer. After about 4 months, he was taking more days off each treatment and sometimes having to take time between treatments. He made the choice to take a disability retirement at the end of the first semester because he just didn't have the stamina to continue. It was very tough, but he did work through those first months.

      over 4 years ago
    • jennlady's Avatar

      I worked through chemo but it was hard. It can be done but it isn't always easy but you will need to decide if that is something you really can do and even something your job will let you do. Can you continue with your short term disability or maybe even long term disability while going through this chemo?

      about 4 years ago
    • Miracle's Avatar

      Each person is so different! I worked everyday, I would take a half day off for my chemo (on friday) an would go back to work on Monday. I only missed 2 days due to being sick, I missed a lot for dr appt and 1/2 days for chemo. But like I said every on is do different you can't judge how you should and will resond to the chemo and how you will fill after.

      about 4 years ago
    • knb123's Avatar

      Working during chemo is absolutely possible. I agree with someone else who posted that attitude has a lot to do with it. For me, working actually helped, by taking my mind off everything else. I work in a pre-school, and even though little children are notorious for germs, and it was winter, I never got sick once. I did get the Neulastra shot, and I am sure that is what helped keep my immune system going. To be honest, even though that shot kept me well, it made me feel worse than the chemo itself. I would have chemo on Thursdays, and I was fine at work on Friday. I would be pretty good on Saturday, then by Sunday I had to rest a lot because the shot was kicking in. On Monday I was still tired but work was do-able. Sometimes I would leave a few hours early on a Monday, and towards the last cycles of chemo I did take those Mondays off. It isn't great, but it isn't terrible, either. Stay positive, you can do it!

      about 4 years ago

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