• Were you able to work during treatment?

    Asked by carolinemck on Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    Were you able to work during treatment?

    I was just diagnosed 2 weeks ago. Had my surgery on Monday and recovering well. I'm wondering how much people were able to work during treatment, especially any teachers.

    8 Answers from the Community

    8 answers
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      During my first diagnosis 23 years ago, for hodgkins, I was a traveling recruiter. Talked to groups of 30 or 40 in 13 different states, flying around each week.I would get treatment on monday, sleep for two days, go to office for thurs and fri. fly out on sat have meetings on Mon, tue be back in office, wed through fri classroom training, then next monday have another treatment, repeat. Last time, 2 years ago, all I had was radiation treatment, and I now own a landscape construction business. I would have treatment everyday, and within a week I was getting tired by 2 pm, go home and take a nap. However, I am now 51 so a little age is working on me too. I think it will depend on how the treatment, treats you, and how you take it.
      Good luck to you though, don't believe them when they say you won't be able to work, I was told that and worked through it, a little slower, but still did.

      over 8 years ago
    • Suzi's Avatar

      Everyone is different in their response to treatment. I am an educator (school counselor) & had to take 5 weeks off after surgery & reconstruction. I have also had to take days off here & there due to chemo side effects plus a week and a half before Christmas when my blood counts were really low. Listen to your body (& your doctor) & do what you need to do to take care of yourself!

      over 8 years ago
    • danellsar's Avatar

      My husband is a teacher. He was diagnosed last March. He took a short term leave of absence last year when he was first diagnosed in order to deal with all the doctors appointments and tests leading up to chemo. He returned to school at the beginning of this year, and has been able to work through this first semester. He has had to take quite a few sick days due to chemo and hospitalizations.

      Now, however, his pain and side effects have gotten too severe, so he's going onto disability "retirement". As he's stage IV/terminal in his diagnosis, the likelihood of his ever going back to teaching is slim. It has made life very difficult for our family, as our health benefits all came through his school district, and that will end shortly.

      over 8 years ago
    • leepenn's Avatar

      Hey there
      I've managed to mostly treat this like a big giant inconvenience. I have not taken any days off at work, but I have worked a few short days, if you will... Working what needed to be done... Then heading home. Out of 16 cycles, only one has really kicked my XXX. It's this last one.... And this cycle, Ive worked three half days in a row. Today, I think I might make it to three quarters! I hope so anyway. Up til this cycle, I typically had one short day per cycle.... Nothing like this. It was manageable. Completely manageable.

      I suppose my point is that if you think you can do it, go for it... And see what happens. I think it is harder for teachers. I am a professor, which means my actual teaching hours are much shorter than for a teacher. Many other pieces of my day can be rescheduled or cancelled, if need be. also, I have my own office, which means I can lay down on my floor if I need to. Nt every one has that good fortune.... I probably do it about once per week for around half an hour....

      Honestly, if every cycle had been like this one - the last one - I don't think I could have pulled off not taking medical leave. but, this cycle was the exception,not the rule.

      So, I guess my advice is - go for it... Make sure you get some exercise every day - that seriously helps helps helps! Make sure you are getting rest... And ask for help when you need it... Maybe you can request an assistant in your room?

      Last piece of advice - get that hand foam for your room, and get your kids and yourself into the habit of using it frequently... I like the foam better than the gel because it does not smell as strongly.... But get some kind of hand sanitizer, and use it liberally throughout the school day.... That could help you maintain virus-free status....

      Heart felt good luck.... And a hug.

      over 8 years ago
    • CountryGirl's Avatar
      CountryGirl (Best Answer!)


      I am an Elementary Librarian and IB Program Coordinator.

      Too many factors influence this for me to give you an answer, so I will just describe my circumstances and what worked for me.

      MY TREATMENT--My breast cancer treatment began with 8 Dose Dense treatments (4 AC and 4 Taxol) in two week increments. My tumor was the size of a baking potato, and the dosage was aggressive. Immediately after chemotherapy, I had surgery (a double mastectomy), then began radiation. My treatment lasted the entire school year.

      MY CLASSES--My library classes are structured so that a substitute is required for any absence. I chose to use FMLA for the librarian job and continued to work as the IB Program Coordinator. At 1/2 time, I could spread my worktime out and work a little each day or if I felt great (this is a relative term), I could work the entire day. My district would not let me teach part time or job share the library position. There were some days that I could not have made sub plans. Some days I came to work and left fifteen minutes later when I realized I had overstepped my capabilities. Some days, I woke up, showered, dressed, eyebrows appropriately penciled on and vomited on the porch before getting in my car.

      COMPLICATIONS--Working in an elementary school is germ central. I had strep throat three times and was eventually placed on a prophylactic antibiotic throughoutin six weeks chemotherapy. Approximately 20% of the people placed on prophylactic antibiotics become immune to the antibiotics and experience further complications, so this is not a desirable course of action. I didn't allow students in my office. I didn't walk the halls or hug or high-five students.

      CONSEQUENCES--Now, I am NED. I began this school year without any sick days and didn't qualify for FMLA again because of how few hours I had worked the previous year. A cancer recurrance scare forced me to have a total hysterectomy which required another six weeks off work (unpaid). I don't regret reducing my schedule last year, but it did cause a financial consequence this year.

      Remember that stress is related to cancer and your overall health. I hope this helps you make a decision that is right for you and your family professionally, financially, and personally.

      over 8 years ago
    • po18guy's Avatar

      When I was diagnosed, I was a police officer working 10 hour shifts from 8:30 PM to 6:30 AM. With help from above, I was able to work through the first two months of dose-intensive CHOEP (aka EPOCH). My attitude regarding working was that if I stopped work and remained home, the disease would loom larger in my consciousness. As well, by remaining at work as long as possible, I was able to encourage a few souls who were experiencing personal difficulties by revealing to them that their problems were both less serious, and temporary in nature, as compared to fighting cancer. Toward the end, my condition was completely obvious, as I was gaunt, ashen grey and hairless. I was still able to function, but stopped working two months into chemo, when my supervisors began asking me several times during my shift if I was OK. I knew then that it was time to rest.

      over 8 years ago
    • carolinemck's Avatar

      Thank you so much for the helpful responses, including the suggestions. Danellsar: I'm so sorry to hear about your family's situation. I will pray for you! CountryGirl: thanks for the detailed response. I am very fortunate to have a sick bank at work, especially since I don't qualify for the Family Leave Act since it's my first year in this district.

      over 8 years ago
    • danellsar's Avatar

      Caroline- I wanted to add, if your union offers any type of disability insurance when it's open enrollment, sign up for it!!! Many many many schools are now limiting or completely doing away with paid leave time (as several others have also mentioned). If it does become necessary to take extended leave, a disability plan will match your lost pay and allow you to focus on getting well.

      over 8 years ago

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