• Managing a full time job and a household with kids while on chemo

    Asked by derbygrrl on Tuesday, June 17, 2014

    Managing a full time job and a household with kids while on chemo

    I lead a very busy life. I am at work 9 hours M-F in addition to 2 hours of driving each day. We have 4 kids living in our home - the youngest is a 19 month old boy. I am worried about being able to keep up with all of this when I start chemo treatments. Does anyone have advice on how to keep up or whether I should ask for a reduced schedule at work, etc.?

    22 Answers from the Community

    22 answers
    • alimccalli's Avatar
      alimccalli

      I would definitely look into the possibility of reducing your schedule. While you don't know how chemo will effect you yet, it's a pretty safe assumption that it will at least cause you to be significantly more fatigued than normal. 2 hours of commuting may be really rough, and then to come home and have a family to help take care of too - it's a lot with everything you are going through.

      Anything you can do ahead of time (before you start chemo) to make it as easy on yourself as possible will help. You are going to need extra rest, and it sounds like you are a very busy person with little time for that rest now...have realistic expectations of what you will be able to do...a talk with your doctor or an oncology nurse about the regimen you will have and if they think you can work that schedule might be helpful also...

      Best of luck and I sincerely hope you sail through chemo...

      over 6 years ago
    • Perkrn6's Avatar
      Perkrn6

      I continued working and doing household choirs while on chemo. I did not have any major problems and my oncologist said I had no restriction to try and keep moving forward. I didn't slow down because I was scared something would happen if I did. Your body will let you know when your tired and listen to it. Rest when needed otherwise remain active. Good luck!

      over 6 years ago
    • leepenn's Avatar
      leepenn

      i worked while on chemo - we had a 8-9 year old....

      i lost about 1/2 day every week to treatment during my taxol + carboplatin phase. during the taxol phase, i otherwise lost no time at work. so, i worked 90% of my usual work week. i had 12 of those weeks. i did attempt to take work with me... but the pre-chemo cocktail for the taxol phase of my treatment put me right into nap mode. every time.

      i lost 1/2 day every other week during my a/c phase. this chemo was a little bit rougher - so i think i worked a little bit less during the several days right after treatment. during the week "off" - i worked my regular schedule. that is, until the very last cycle - knocked me to my knees - i worked 50% the week after that one.

      i am a university professor, and i managed to teach all of my classes and so forth. i did have a few people helping me out with a few things...

      my better half and i continued to share household responsibilities, but there's no doubt in my mind that my better half took on more than 50% of the work.... that let me still do cool mom things...

      i think that adding on 2 hours of driving a day would kind of suck.

      so.... if i were to be in your shoes, i probably would ask for flexibility... but i'd be optimistic that it'd be manageable. what happens if you have a sick day - is that a problem for your position? what about the half-day you'll need for each treatment? there's no way around that one.

      what's your treatment schedule? that might also make a difference. i had 12 weeks of taxol with carboplatin every third treatment (plus and experimental drug). i then had 8 weeks of ac - once every two weeks. so i had 16 treatments total. the first phase was very manageable, and i don't think i'd hesitate to keep a full time schedule.... there's no doubt that i got tired a bit easier - i just went to bed when my child when to bed.... needed about 10 hours of sleep a night. the second phase was harder... by then, i was obviously bald and so forth... people were very understanding at work - helped me out a bit here and there - that did make a difference. that last cycle - i definitely could not have managed a full time week. i was in bed about 16 hours a day for those first several days after that last cycle.

      in the end - it will depend on your exact treatment schedule and drugs.... and YOU. everyone is a little bit different.

      what's your treatment plan?

      good luck....

      over 6 years ago
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar
      LiveWithCancer

      I had a very busy life before I started chemo, but not as busy as yours. Once I started, I reduced the number of hours I worked. My treatments were once every 3 weeks. I felt awful the first week ... I could just barely move from the couch to the refrigerator, which wasn't a long walk. The second week, I went to work for abbreviated hours. The third week, before treatments began again, I felt nearly human. However, my only responsibility besides going to work was taking care of my dogs (my husband was taking care of me) ... a far cry from 4 active little kids.

      Everyone reacts differently to chemo, but in no way would I be thinking I would continue my lifestyle as if it was a mere inconvenience. You're in the fight for your life ... and you'll know it (if you react anywhere close to how I did). Best of luck to you and your family!

      over 6 years ago
    • Liha's Avatar
      Liha

      If you have the time take it -built up sick leave and vacation. I would recommend it. Your body needs to fight and heal at the same time. If they allow leaves of absence, take it. Sometimes chemo can cause side effects that can linger if we don't take care of the healing process. Fatigue will be like you have never known. Even your older kids may have to help pitch in and keep their rooms clean and learn to fold towels. When you do have energy, spend it with the kids if you can so your not commuting and working. If you can get approved for FML do it. (I had to use my banked sick/vac time first).

      over 6 years ago
    • CrazyHarry's Avatar
      CrazyHarry

      I applaud your level of energy through this. In my case, chemo really whipped my rear end and I went on disability. I would definitely simplify your life if possible by arranging as much support as you can.

      over 6 years ago
    • Risa's Avatar
      Risa

      I have worked the whole time but I am self-employed and have a home office with no kids at home. My work is uplifting for me and I could certainly take it easy if I wanted too but I continued working hard and doing trade shows while on chemo etc.I never got sick but I was certainly fatigued at times. My husband did a lot of the household chores and dinner , But I have a lot of friends that went on disability to get rid of any necessary stress. I am not entitled to any state disability because of being self-employed and did not want to apply for Social security disability. Stress is not good for Cancer, so if I were you and you are able to I would slow down and do as little as possible so that you can focus on dealing with cancer and taking care of yourself and your family. I hope it is possible for you.

      over 6 years ago
    • Annehowe77's Avatar
      Annehowe77

      Everyone reacts to chemo differently. I was really ill with it and could not work. I found it hard to function let alone work! If I was you I'd take time off to see how you feel and if you do feel ok, you could perhaps reduce your hours. But good luck for your journey

      over 6 years ago
    • maggieH's Avatar
      maggieH

      1) My friends set up a web site sign up to bring me and my family meals during my chemo:
      https://www.takethemameal.com/

      2) Also, set up to have friends help with chores, errands, etc at:
      http://www.lotsahelpinghands.com/who-we-help/

      Circulate these web sign ups through your kids' schools/daycare/mommy groups, at your church, work, husband's work, etc. I never knew how many people were rooting for us until these sign-ups went out. Everyone wants to help but don't know what to do. These sign-ups give them the opportunity to help in very meaningful ways. It has been invaluable for us.

      3) Also, sign up for grocery delivery through your local Safeway or Giant grocery store chains. If you use a member card there, they already have a list of the items you've bought through your membership card. Then you just go in the website and check off what you need and when you want it delivered.

      Hope this was helpful. Chemo is only temporary. That is my mantra. I have 10 more weeks of weekly taxol; the AC is behind me. Hang in there, it will pass.

      over 6 years ago
    • cam32505's Avatar
      cam32505

      You probably won't be able to manage everything with chemo. If you can afford to cut down at work, that would be the place to start. As for managing at home, this is a good time to teach the kids and hubby to pitch in. Train them before you get too sick. There's no reason they can't do some laundry (with you showing them how to sort clothes), cook some simple meals, lite housekeeping. Also, line up family, friends, coworkers, church members.

      over 6 years ago
    • JudyW's Avatar
      JudyW

      I'm a single mom, and my son was 10 when I was going through treatment. We have three dogs and six cats, and I'm a full-time high school English teacher. I also have a second, part-time job to help make ends meet. I understand what you're saying, and I've been there. It was difficult, but I have to say that there are days when you just gave to take that next step, do the next thing that needs to get done, move your feet. It's not easy, but you know we just do what we have to do for our families. It's the nature of being a mom. All that said, I had only one child, though, and 1/2 hour commute, but no one at home to help me. The biggest help was a website on lotsahelpinghands.com where people brought us dinner. That saved my energies after school every day to deal with my son and our pets. You'll have to prioritize how you spend the limited energy you have. Best of luck....deep breath......one more step!

      over 6 years ago
    • JudyW's Avatar
      JudyW

      I'm a single mom, and my son was 10 when I was going through treatment. We have three dogs and six cats, and I'm a full-time high school English teacher. I also have a second, part-time job to help make ends meet. I understand what you're saying, and I've been there. It was difficult, but I have to say that there are days when you just have to take that next step, do the next thing that needs to get done, move your feet. It's not easy, but you know we just do what we have to do for our families. It's the nature of being a mom. All that said, I had only one child, though, and 1/2 hour commute, but no one at home to help me. The biggest help was a website on lotsahelpinghands.com where people brought us dinner. That saved my energies after school every day to deal with my son and our pets. You'll have to prioritize how you spend the limited energy you have. Best of luck....deep breath......one more step!

      over 6 years ago
    • baridirects' Avatar
      baridirects

      The battle you are about to undertake is going to require a lot of energy...more than you may realize...and the effects tend to be cumulative. As others have said, now is the time for you to refocus your priorities a bit and concentrate on Project You as much as possible. If you haven't already, I would sit down with your manager and your HR rep and see if there's anything you can do to lighten your schedule...for example, is there any possibility you could do some/all of your work from home, so you can eliminate that 2 hours behind the wheel? Or,if it's available, you might want to think about taking advantage of short-term disability.

      As to your family, your spouse and your older children will become your greatest allies in helping to keep the household running so you can focus on your healing. Reach out for help from friends, neighbors, your faith community if you have one...talk with the social services department at your hospital to see what community services might be available to lend a hand if need be.

      As women, we tend to want to assume the role of SuperChick, and provide all things to all people, sometimes at our own expense. As difficult as it may be to step back a bit, rest assured that the time and energy you invest in yourself right now will pay you back a millionfold when you complete this journey.

      Namaste,
      Christine

      over 6 years ago
    • JudyW's Avatar
      JudyW

      Oops! Sorry my rssponse posted twice!

      over 6 years ago
    • junie1's Avatar
      junie1

      You and your doctor,, along with your body will be able to answer that question. Everybody reacts to chemo very differently,, When I went thur chemo,,,20+ yrs ago,,,I worked a full time job, my daughter was a senior in high school. My treatments were very mild compared to others. They did however have to change the dosage to a lesser degree,, that extended the treatments out a few months,, but I could still work. There was times that people said that I should have gone home,, but I was a "die hard" person,, stayed at work,, I took my lunch hour to do my raidiation treatments,, I was that dedicated to my job,, or maybe I was too worried i'd loose my job,, not sure ,,, I know that I would not do that today,, I'd take the time off to heal,, and if I wasn't feeling well ,, I'd be calling in sick.. There's not job out there, that will take presence over my health,, that's my opinion..
      So when the time comes to start chemo,, you will know just how much you can cope with. With the ages of the children,, you might be wanting some help ,, do you have other family members that can help?
      Wishing you good days ahead.. keep us posted as to what's going on.. we are here for you,, and for everyone else.. each of us has something to give,, this is a good site to be one..

      over 6 years ago
    • fiddler's Avatar
      fiddler

      Reduce your work schedule and add back hours as you are able. If you do it in the reverse, it may be messy and you don't want messy at work - they look at you funny from messy forward.

      over 6 years ago
    • derbygrrl's Avatar
      derbygrrl

      Thanks for all the great advice and for sharing your personal experiences with me. I am currently using my short term disability and FMLA benefits for recovery from the double mastectomy. They drained all my vacation and sick days before disability kicked in but I am at 70% of my pay while I'm out, which is pretty good. The insurance company only approves out until the next scheduled follow up appointment and then they decide whether to extend me based on the office visit notes. The total amount of time I can get for short term disability is 12 weeks if approved and so far I have used 3. After that I could consider long term but I would obviously take a significant cut in pay. I can live on 70% for awhile so I hope they will extend me to get me through the first couple of cycles and see how I do so I will know what I can handle. Fiddler makes a great point - it can be messy to go back full time and cut back instead of doing it the other way around, which is easing back into the routine. Thanks again for the support!

      over 6 years ago
    • mcgheere's Avatar
      mcgheere

      I was lucky to have a job that allowed me to work from home when I felt too sick to go into the office.
      Since I had to take steroids the day before and after my treatments I found that I was totally wired for a few days and then slowly came down from that to where I would feel totally worn out about a week after chemo. Then a few days of being exhausted and then things would start getting a little better every day until it was time for chemo again (I had chemo every two weeks, eight treatments).
      So what I am saying is that your body will have it's own cycle and once you have that figured out it will help a little with making plans on how much you can do at any given time.
      Most of the time I was glad that I did not go out on disability (doctor made it an option) because work gave me something to focus on other than my issues, but there was one or two moments where I wished I was on disability.
      Either way you end up going (or having to go), you will figure out how much you can do or not.
      I wish you the best, this is a sucky time, but you will get through it.
      Take it one day at a time and when it gets too much just go to bed and say the XXX with the world.

      over 6 years ago
    • Anamaria's Avatar
      Anamaria

      ACT treatment is very hard on me. I have not worked since my operation in February 2014. I have had problems with the Neulasta shot needed the day after the AC treatment. Now taxol has my white blood count very low and my blood is thick and I gave cloth forming. It has been an up hill battle for me. A lot of people I've spoke with had to take FML at some point during treatment. I may not be the norm but you should cut back your work schedule and devote time to your health and family. Life goes beyond the work place and family and health should be your priority. Good luck on what ever you do. xoxo

      over 6 years ago
    • glam's Avatar
      glam

      From my pointing of view you are starting one of the most or the most important battle....and being healthy is not only for you but also to be able to keep all of those busy life you have just mentioned.....so I would definitely dedicate all my time, focus and energy in winning this battle and completely banish cancer from your life.....afterwards you can go back to your normal life and step by step introduce all activities again....so reduce the ones you can, delegate the others you can.... and keep as most energy as you can to use in your treatment.....that's seems to be time to ask for help....talk in your job about a flexible or reduced work time....(you could for instance work part time at home, etc).....talk with your neighbors to see how they could help.... take and get children at school, do your shops when they do theirs own, take clothes to the laundry when they take theirs, banks etc....talk with your family to see if they have any day available and how they could help....and also organize your life in a way you allow yourself in the bad days (if you have some) to rest.....so have frozen and pre-prepared food for the whole week, etc....wishing you all the best and a killing cancer treatment.....God bless you, your family and continue blessing all of us

      over 6 years ago
    • Carol1286's Avatar
      Carol1286

      Chemo was hard on me. I could only manage half days. I could do some work from home. I wasn't strong enough to go up and down steps, so my husband handled all the laundry and most of the cooking. I found out how much energy cooking really takes. When my energy started coming back I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, so I've taken another step back. I'll get back up to par eventually. Just listen to your body. If you get overly fatigued, it's harder to bounce back.

      over 6 years ago
    • Roses4ever's Avatar
      Roses4ever

      Wow! You have a lot on your plate. I definitely couldn't work. I still can't 4 months after chemo due to severe neuropathy and bone pain. After each chemo treatment I literally slept for 2 days. It would take me about 9 days to recover. Thank God for my husband and family cause I needed a lot of help. I have 3 kids and a puppy. 2 of my kids are grown and out of the house but my 14 yr old has Down syndrome/ Autism and totally relies on me for almost everything. So between her and the puppy it was pretty hard. Luckily my husband was able to take a leave to help me.
      Like everyone has said we are all different. I remember sitting next to ladies in chemo treatment who worked and I was just in awe. Try to get your days off right after your chemo so u can recuperate and rest. Let us all know how everything is going. Much love!!!
      P.S- The 2 hour drive is making me tired just thinking about it. Lol!

      over 6 years ago

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