• KarenG_WN's Avatar

    How did you handle continuing to work while you went through treatment?

    Asked by KarenG_WN on Thursday, August 11, 2011

    How did you handle continuing to work while you went through treatment?

    For a lot of people, the burden of the cancer journey can become overwhelming. This impacts your life in many ways, including your ability to continue to work at full capacity. What was your experience with work and how did you make your decisions? Was your employer a helpful partner in the process? What advice do you have for others?

    20 Answers from the Community

    20 answers
    • mamoladyc's Avatar

      I did not work. I do direct patient care and did not want to get sick during chemo. After surgery I was physically unable too. Same with radiation.

      over 9 years ago
    • lynn1950's Avatar

      I was able to work part-time , except right after my surgery and occasional days during the chemo regimen. During radiation I worked two ten hour days/per week, because of the location of my rad center. This really tired me out!

      over 9 years ago
    • Brooklynchele's Avatar

      I missed very little time during my treatment. I missed one day for my lumpectomy and 2 days for my partial mastectomy. During chemo, I worked from home for the week following my infusion. I work a mask while on the commuter train and on the subway to help avoid contracting an infection. All in all, I probably lost a total of about 1 week during the entire year of treatment. What it is important to know is that I commute a total of 2 1/2-3 hours each way to work. So, this is completely "doable".

      over 9 years ago
    • KarenG_WN's Avatar

      Thank you for your answers, I know this is something that is on the minds of many going through cancer treatment and it is good to hear from others about how they were impacted and how they coped.

      over 9 years ago
    • Rathgirl's Avatar

      Well, for the 6-7 months that I was in treatment and healing from treatment I did not work which really sucked. I really had no choice since it all depended on my blood counts. After each treatment my counts would be ok for a couple days then after that they would go down hill for about 2 weeks then I would have 1 week of recovering from my counts dropping. Once they recovered I would have a few days then the whole process would start over leaving me about I think I counted about 2-3 days to work in between each treatment. Since chemo pretty much drained all of my energy and it wouldn't take long for me to get extremely tired it wasn't worth me going for those couple of days. On top of it all having to wear a wig wasn't my favorite thing to do.... I preferred ball caps. I was a little self conscious of what I looked like at the time so I didn't want the questions of "What happened?" or "Why are you wearing a hat?". I did go back about 6 months after the last time I worked and worked a couple days then got really sick again. My PICC line had gotten infected causing me to get a fever, dizzy, nausea, etc. This set me back on going back officially. I was in the hospital for about a week with this. I didn't go back to work till I think it was the next month. After dealing with all of that and getting 100% better I finally went back. I love my job. My boss was amazing through the whole ordeal. Both of his parents had cancer as well as his mother in-law so he knew what I was going through and held my job for me.

      over 9 years ago
    • PhillieG's Avatar

      I tried to schedule my chemo for Fridays so I would not have to miss much work. I usually felt better or good enough to work by Monday. That went on for a long time. Then I had switched chemo days and would miss more work. Where I worked as VERY accommodating to my situation and to my schedule. I was able to use much of my vacation time, personal days and sick days to fill in for the time lost to chemo. I was also able to be on a type of disability where I could take intermittent days off and get paid for them. At first, I had gone to work wearing the pump. That was "different". Later I had issues with bad stomach cramps that would stop me in my tracks from the pain. I was given "lite" projects to work on which didn't make me feel great, but I did understand that they needed people who they could rely on being there when needed to lead projects and I was no longer able to do that. They were extremely kind to me and understanding of my situation. I was pleasantly surprised.

      over 9 years ago
    • Denise's Avatar

      I am in management at my job and thankfully I have an awesome policy in regards to leave. The Facility Manager of my building was also awesome in that he allowed me to work at whatever schedule my treatment and condition would allow. I never missed more than two days in a row. My ACT treats were the worst...I had them on Thursday mornings and I was sick until usually Monday night but I would go to work Mondays anyway. My second round of chemo wasn't as bad for me. I was sick, but not overly and had them Fridays and came back to work Monday with no issues. They bumped one of my lead persons to supervisor while I went through treatment and she helped me lead the team for the better part of a year as I went through everything. I had a really good work experience. I am very thankful for it!

      over 9 years ago
    • tjohnson2310's Avatar

      I continued to work. I scheduled my chemo at the end of the week so I could recover over the weekend. There were some days I did not feel well and I was able to cut the day short. I stayed home post op and during radiation. I utilized short term disability.

      over 9 years ago
    • MAGNUM1's Avatar

      I was off work for about two months, after my surgery. I told no fellow workers, the nature of my surgery. I chose not to do so.

      I subsequently returned to work as a police officer, for another 3 years. Never disclosing my medical condition.

      However, the cancer did not remain in remission, and I now faced 8 weeks of daily radiation treatments. There was no way that I could miss work, every day, without having to explain the nature.
      So, I ended up retiring, prior to the start of the treatments.

      I experienced fatigue, as the radiation treatments progressed,
      so it would have been difficult to return to my former police officer duties.

      over 9 years ago
    • danellsar's Avatar

      My husband took several months off right after his initial diagnosis in order to seek treatment and begin chemo. He went back to work, in large part because we're having trouble getting disability/retirement in place. That's where we are now. Even though he's been hospitalized several times, and is in a lot of pain, he continues to go to work as many days as possible until we can get the option of disability. It's ridiculous that it's so hard and takes so long to set up given that he's stage 4 and might not have any treatment options left.

      He's extremely tired and in a lot of pain, every day, when he comes home.

      over 9 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      My first two rounds of fighting, I would get treatment on most Monday's, go home, be sick for two days, then wake up sometime Wed, and go to work. I had a good company to help me with letting me be off. On every other week, I would travel to another city for work, then come back and get another treatment.

      My last diagnosis, I was getting Radiation only, every morning, then come on in to work. I got very tired by 2 or 3 in the afternoon, and would go on home to rest.

      over 9 years ago
    • BrandenC's Avatar

      I am lucky enough to work from home when I am not feeling well, so overall fairly good. Also since I work only a few feet from my oncology clinic this is also very helpful. The hardest part for me is going through school at the same time. It keeps me busy but the stress of school along with the stress of my disease can be a tad much sometimes.

      over 9 years ago
    • glomoy's Avatar

      I was very up front w/ my employers that my cancer had returned after 16 years. Just put it out there

      over 9 years ago
    • Marie's Avatar

      I had to use my few remaining vacation days for surgery then a few unpaid days to qualify for short term disability.

      I then did not work (was unable to work) the week of chemo, worked from home the second week, and worked in the office the third week. I did this for 6 rounds of chemo, then my short term disability expired so I had to go back to work full time 5 days after my last chemo.

      Radiation began 6 weeks later and i had to come to work early and go to radiation treatment in the afternoon. 7 weeks later I was completely exhausted but I had to work through it. My employer certainly tolerated an extended period of less productive time from me.

      For those that have no other income alternatives, get to know your short and long term disability options BEFORE telling your boss. I had to meet with my HR representative. I told her I would tell my boss and I expected her to keep our discussion confidential. I then had to call the insurance company to get the rest of the story.

      I had no problems when treatment began but had I not known that I could not work for more than a certain number of consecutive days without losing the short term disability insurance I could have lost my income for a few months and would not have been able to pay my bills.

      about 9 years ago
    • oldgreycoach's Avatar

      I have been extremely lucky the company I work for offers a telecommuting option to staff that do not have to be onsite all of the time. They provide a complete set of small office tools including my phone that is connected directly to the office.

      Because of what I do I can also take advantage of a liberal flextime policy as well, so I can work around treatments etc.

      The third thing about my employers is the FLMA leave policy that is in place. I have been out about 4 months in the past 2 years and have not missed a days pay and only had to use 6 days of vacation.

      Its just a great place to work.

      (recruiting alert) if you are a software, computer security person or a systems admin (windows) we are hiring, both in Boston and Washington DC (end of alert)

      happy holidays

      about 9 years ago
    • uphym's Avatar

      I work full time at an entry level job (my first job out of college) in Manhattan, therefore I commute everyday which is exhausting without cancer. When I was first diagnosed I was worried my job would be mad that I had to take days off because it was our busiest time of the year but instead my company (a major television network) has been 100% understanding, informing me that I can take as many days as needed, even over my given eight sick days. They have told me that I can make my own hours, and would even send me home in a town car on days I wasn't feeling well. This being my first real job, I never want to seem like I am taking advantage of the situation so I make sure I am in work everyday from 10 to 6. The only days I don't come in are the days I go for treatment and two or three days following treatment. However, even on those days, when I can't get out of bed I feel guilty about calling out sick. Does anyone else have this problem?

      over 8 years ago
    • StunnedMike's Avatar

      My workplace was very supportive. I am a traveling consultant. My company worked out a deal with my customer that allowed me to travel every other week, so I could get my treatments. I needed to work to keep my mind off of the cancer. Luckily, I did not get sick or have any major complications during the 24 weeks.

      over 8 years ago
    • Crash's Avatar

      I would excuse myself, go into a bathroom, throw up, wipe my face, rinse my mouth, and go back to work.

      over 8 years ago
    • liznparadise's Avatar

      I was fortunate in that I work from my home office. I am in Real Estate sales and closed three transactions while undergoing treatment. My work affords me the opportunity to make my own schedule which helped a lot. The last escrow closed shortly after I was released from the hospital from side effects of treatment. I was making phone calls to the escrow officer from the hospital and a close friend and associate met with my client and did the final walk-through for me. My client was a breast cancer survivor, so she was very understanding. It helped me to work during that time. I still felt like I was achieving and helpful. It gave me something to focus on other than my illness.

      over 8 years ago
    • Queen_Tatiana's Avatar

      My husband really wanted to continue working, even though he should have taken a medical leave he just needed his work to keep him on track for doing everything he could possibly do to beat the cancer. He works for a areospace company and they have been so very supportive of him. He used up sick leave years ago when this all began, and yet they continue to pay his full salary with no questions asked. He has always received his yearly COA increase, merit raise, bonus, and any other monies they owe him, such as a patent use. When he can't make it into his office he tries to work from home at least part of the day. Chemo day is the only day he does not work at all, but even then he does take his laptop just in case he might feel up to it.

      I think the one thing he would say is to talk with your employer and keep them in the loop as to what is going on with you. They can't help if they don't know.

      over 8 years ago

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