• KarenG_WN's Avatar

    Tips for working during cancer treatment?

    Asked by KarenG_WN on Friday, August 17, 2012

    Tips for working during cancer treatment?

    Many people want and/or need to work during cancer treatment. If you did work or are working while undergoing cancer treatment, what advice would you give to someone who is about to do the same?

    12 Answers from the Community

    12 answers
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      Talk to the company let them know whats about to happen, and see how they can help. Most companys don't want to be seen as a bully when dealing with someone fighting cancer. But they have a bottom line to look after too. It depends on each case. My company is too small to pay someone for not being here, but I know of some that have paid their people just like they were there working. Sometimes you can shift schedules, work afternoons, weekends or when you are able to instead of 5 days a week rigid schedule. As a business owner, I would be open to someone working when they could, when they felt better. I also have heard of companys that held tight with the rules, and if you couldn't work and used up your alloted days, they got let go. that is not as common though.

      I worked through three different diagnoses, had to take off a day or so each week, when I was working for someone else, they were good enough to let me have off whenever I needed it, and still paid me.

      Last time, working for myself, radiation made me droopy, I took off after 2 each day after about 3 weeks of treatments.

      about 4 years ago
    • GetMyLifeBack's Avatar

      I was very fortunate and had been at my job for 10 years before I was diagnosed. I had a lot of support, but then again we were all mental health professionals. I think it is important to express to your supervisor your concerns about how it will impact your performance and request confidentiality. Only tell people you want to tell and tell them that unless you bring it up, you don't want to discuss it. Also I amf inding that cancerandcareers.org is an awesome resource if you are not in a supportive environment.

      about 4 years ago
    • IKickedIt's Avatar

      I was teaching part-time at two different schools. My ed directors were the first people I spoke with and they were so helpful and supportive. In a classroom environment, I can't just go the bathroom when I need to, so they were the ones who suggested giving me an aide to have in the classroom in case I needed to run out.

      I kept my ed directors in the loop the entire time. They knew I was trying my best to schedule my treatments around my teaching schedule and they were very helpful and accommodating. At my one job, I would run out at lunch to get my chemo pump disconnected. I'd come back to teach my final 3 classes and my ed director knew that I had to head home immediately since the fatigue would set in, so she never asked me to stay late and knew not to schedule me for any meetings on those particular days.

      Our union had a sick bank and those teachers in need were able to dip into the sick bank for leave. I was fortunate that I was given days from the sick bank once I used up all my leave during my surgery so I never needed to go without pay or go on disability.

      I found that everyone was very, very caring and wanted to help. I was open and honest with my ed directors and they were always there for me, as were my colleagues. I know I was very fortunate. I hope and pray everyone else can be as fortunate.

      about 4 years ago
    • CarolLHRN's Avatar

      I think there is something to be said for having to get up every morning, take a shower, and get out the door. Being at work, I forgot about the cancer while I was there and I think I did so well because I didn't focus on having cancer all the time.

      The best advice I can give is to learn to embrace the nap. I was never a napper and honestly frowned upon napping. When I was going through treatment, there were days when I was so tired that I layed down when I got home from work and I didn't wake up until the next morning!

      I tried very hard not to make a big deal about working through treatment. I only told my boss, assistant, and one other person I work with closely. I wore my pump but it didn't wear me. No one ever asked me about the pump and I think it's because I kept it hidden as much as I could and just pretend like it wasn't there.

      I know I didn't work to the fullest while I was going through treatment but now that I am through it all, I am working really hard to make up for the time when I was in treatment. I have stayed late numerous times and went above and beyond on some projects. I just feel that my boss was so flexible with me during treatement that is the least I can do now that I am through everything.

      about 4 years ago
    • lynn1950's Avatar

      I t really helped me to have my chemo scheduled for Wednesday. I began feeling under the weather on Friday afternoon, slept with meds on Saturday and Sunday, and felt well enough to work on Monday. The working routine was good for me and the people who I worked with were wonderful.

      about 4 years ago
    • Moonflay's Avatar

      I have worked throughout my treatment so far. The only days I have missed have been chemo days (21 day cycle) so every 21 days I miss a Wednesday. I can leave early or come in late if necessary but I have only left an hour early once during the first treatment. The second week is the worst for me, bone pain and migraine headache but I have been fortunate and not had any nausea so far.

      I feel like getting up, getting ready and going to work helps with the mental focus of getting through this. I'm going to feel bad whether at work or at home and keeping busy helps. Once I get through the workday, I come home and crash if it's a bad day. I don't hide the cancer. I'm a computer tech and so many of my customer's show their support and concern it's almost therapeutic just being at work.

      It's a battle but one I feel like I am in control of. I have cancer, cancer does NOT have me. :)

      about 4 years ago
    • blondie's Avatar

      Give your boss and insurance a copy of all drugs with side effects and a schedule of all treatments. A good boss will schedule you on your good days. After treatment, wait a day or two for weakness / nausea to subside. The doctor should give you something for the nausea. Have a meeting to determine your hours of working availability. Your boss should have your doctors phone number in case you get sick or collapse at work.

      about 4 years ago
    • jamrck's Avatar

      I had chemo every week for 12 wks. The good side was the dosage was less; the bad side was I didn't have much time between to recoup. Loss of appetite was probably the worst. The meds I had for nausea were great. I worked the entire time, altho I spent more time working from home the last couple weeks. I could get more done than wearing myself out trying to get ready to go to work.

      about 4 years ago
    • po18guy's Avatar

      At this time in 2008, I was a police officer working 10 hour shifts at night. I was receiving a doise-intensive (CHOEP 14) regimen against Peripheral T-Cell Lymphoma. I managed to work through all eight weeks of that regimen, but was pretty ragged, gray, bald and getting weaker at the end. Each day I had to evaluate whether or not I could do the job. I stopped working when my supervisors began asking me more than once during the shift if I was OK. Looking back, I suppose that it was a struggle at age 56, but the alternative was to remain at home and be occupied with the fact that I was fighting for my life. For once, I found work to be a pleasant diversion.

      about 4 years ago
    • mamasdaughter's Avatar

      My mom went back to work with a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. She filled out the necessary paperwork for FMLA and then short term disability. She was diagnosed in June 2011 and due to pain wasn't able to go back to work until November of the same year. Her work has been MARVELOUS! She also got her treatment days moved from Mondays to Thursdays so that her roughest side effect days were on the weekend while she was off. She has used up all her days off, however at her work they have what's called a sick day pool and people can donate sick days to her. So I would look into that too. Best of luck to you!

      about 4 years ago
    • mgm48's Avatar

      I'm on a 21 day cycle since May 10 and have only missed "chemo" day each cycle. I could have worked about half a day on chemo day if I had wanted to but the steroids tend to make me a bit jumpy so I ride my bike to dampen the effects. My number one tip (check with your doc first) is to exercise very regularly and not just 5 minutes. I have been bicycling for a minimum of an hour each day and I feel lousy on the days I don't. So I've even gotten some foul weather wear to ride in the rain and cooler weather. I seem to get an endorphin high somewhere around 10 to 12 miles into each ride. It seems to help my energy level, mood, and general health. It's even seemingly helping with the weight gains I was having because of the steroids and general lack of control over my intake.
      My second tip is more of an observation, work fills the day with non-cancer stuff and helps me bridge the time between chemo days. I know that may sound funny, but I want the chemo to beat down my PSA so I feel like I'm "waiting" between fights and working makes the waiting go faster.

      Kep it positive and smile :)

      about 4 years ago
    • SLDND's Avatar

      I worked through treatment, everyone in my office knew, so they were very supportive when I needed a siesta in the afternoon. I also signed up for FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) although I didn't need it, it was there to protect my job if I needed time off.

      about 4 years ago

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