• Working while on chemo

    Asked by BuckeyeShelby on Friday, August 17, 2012

    Working while on chemo

    Have many of you worked while undergoing chemo? I am having surgery next week and am supposed to start chemo 2-3 weeks after surgery. I'm single and really don't have a lot of choice -- I've got to keep my job & insurance. My supervisor is going to be cool, but my company has a relatively strict policy regarding FMLA (I'm going to preschedule as much as possible so I don't use up my FMLA days). My hopes are to have my chemo sessions on Thursday afternoon or Friday and recover over the weekend. Is this goal realistic or am I out of my wee little mind?

    11 Answers from the Community

    11 answers
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      Have you discussed this with your oncologist are are you just assuming that the side effects will kick in immediately? In my case, I had chemo on Wednesdays and felt fine until Saturdays. If you schedule yours for Thursday or Friday, you may feel fine over the weekend and feel worst starting Monday or Tuesday.

      I worked through chemo but I was able to customize my schedule to do some work from home and change my hours as needed. If I needed to take a day off I could make up for it by working longer hours the following week. My chemo was every 3 weeks, and I had significant side effect for a total of about 4-5 days each cycle. So with chemo every 3rd Wednesday, 2 of those days were a weekend and the other 2 were ones I could either work from home or make up on other days.

      about 4 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      I have had three experiences with this each was different. My first course of chemo: treatment on Monday, go home, get sick for 4 hours then I would go to sleep for about a day and half. I woke up usually on Wed, or tue. night, and would go to office and work wed, through friday. some weekends I would fly out of town for meetings, and come back, have another treatment and start all over again.

      Second course about a year later, different meds, weren't as bad, I didnt get sick, stayed home one day, went back to work. Was hyper, felt crappy but I worked. Nausea a lot, but now there are better meds for that than when I had this 24 years ago.

      third time 4 years ago, had radiation only, I worked all the way through it, inconvenient having to go every day to get treatment, but it only took 30 minutes in and out, went to work. After about 3 weeks I started getting droopy by about 2, so I would go home. I own the company so I have that option, I bet you will find the people you work for will be much more accomodating than you think. Most businesses don't want to be seen as uncaring for someone fighting cancer.

      Best of luck to you, hope you do great!

      about 4 years ago
    • Cindy's Avatar

      I normally work four days a week (Monday through Thursday) for 10 hours each day at a desk job. When undergoing chemo I had 6 rounds of chemo (Taxol & Carboplatin) spaced 3 weeks apart. I normally had the chemo on a Thursday morning and then took the following Monday and Tuesday off for the first 4 rounds. I was normally okay to do things the first couple of days after the chemo and then I would be tired a few days after that when the fatigue set in. I was then able to work two and half weeks until my next chemo. My last two chemo treatments I had problems with my white blood cell count being low and took off more time. I took off 2 whole week after my last chemo treatment because of my low white blood cell count and side affects of the drugs used to bring my white blood cell count back up.

      about 4 years ago
    • PinkD's Avatar

      I had an incredibly supportive boss at the time--I wonder what would be different if I had my current boss when I was going through chemo...anyway, I had chemo on Tuesday afternoons. Adriamycin and cytoxan were first--had them every other week. I'd work Tuesday morning, go to my parents house and drop off my overnight stuff, they took me to chemo and then I went to their house and spent the night and the next day with them. I volunteer with a church youth group on Wednesday nights so I went there and then went back to my house. I only had 4 rounds of A/C so by the time I figured out that wasn't the best routine it was over! It wasn't the best routine because I usually felt fine until late Wednesday night/early Thursday morning! Having a restful Wednesday was probably beneficial in some ways, but in retrospect I should have taken Thursdays off. As it was I would try to work on Thursday but each week the side effects got worse until that last Thursday where I never even made it out of bed. The next round was 8 weekly infusions Taxol and Herceptin--the side effects were minimal but because my work environment was so supportive I continued my routine of being off Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday. SO--a lot depends on the actual drugs you're on, and how and when your body reacts. I'm single, too, so needed to protect my income, but even more important for me was not acting like a sick or disabled person. I tried really hard to keep living my as much of my pre-cancer life as I could and I think that was really helpful.

      about 4 years ago
    • Moonflay's Avatar

      I have worked through the entire chemo so far. The worst days for me are days 7-11. I have been lucky though and have not had any nausea. Bone pain, all over achy and migraine the second week but handled with antihistamine and Tramadol keeps it bearable. I take my chemos on Wednesdays, 21 day cycle, and Prednisone on days 1-5.

      Eating healthy (lots of milkshakes and protein for me, lol), exercise, getting out everyday and sleeping more seems to work for me.

      I wish you the very best on this journey!

      about 4 years ago
    • eedoyle's Avatar

      you do have the F.M.L.A. it allows you to take leave from work without you job breathing down you throat. you just do what you can as time allows and don't stress as that will or can make things worse for your cancer.

      about 4 years ago
    • blondie's Avatar

      Pre-scheduling is a good idea. FMLA has a policy of 4-6 weeks of medical leave per year. Don't wear yourself out at work to the point of developing a complicaton or infection. Maybe you, your boss, and your doctor can have a meeting to see what kind of work schedule can be developed. Tell your company insurance what is going on and they should advise you on what to do. The doctor should give you something for the nausea. Have the doctor's information with you or your boss if you get sick or collapse at work.

      about 4 years ago
    • po18guy's Avatar

      There is no set answer to this, as it will depend upon your overall health, your stamina, your attitude, the type and intensity of your chemotherapy regimen, as well as the degree of symptoms you have from the disease itself. Some people breeze through chemo while others have their health taken to the tipping point. This is something to discuss with doctor of nurse, as there may be an average performance level for patients in your profile who are receiving similar chemo.

      For the record, I worked 10 hour shifts at night through two months of an aggressive chemo regimen of five drugs (EPOCH 14). At the end of it, facing two more months of a different aggressive chemo regimen, I chose to stay home. I did not regret that decision.

      about 4 years ago
    • Valentinegirl's Avatar

      I have chemo every other week, and i chose Friday as my treatment day in hopes that I would have the weekend to recuperate, and return to work on Monday. I have just completed my third chemo treatment with minimal side effects, and have been working Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. I will add Wednesdays to my work schedule at the end of this month. i've found that eating healthy foods, keeping myself well hydrated, exercise, support from loved ones, and most of all having a positive, hopeful attitude has been getting me through this. best of luck!

      about 4 years ago
    • akiko's Avatar

      It totally depends on your condition and the intensity of the chemotherapy. I was hospitalized for 4 days during my chemo and the chemo was so intense, it was impossible to work during and even after completing the chemotherapy. However most of people I knew worked during their chemo since their chemo was outpatient and they did a half day once a month or so. They told me that it was good for them since working experience enabled them to have a sense of then being part of the community.

      about 4 years ago
    • Lirasgirl33's Avatar

      I had a radical hysterectomy followed by chemo every Monday as well as radiation 5 days a week, then high dose internal radiation and 4 additional rounds of chemo. I was not able to work. I used my full 12 weeks of FMLA and have been on disability since my surgery in January. I've been able to keep my insurance through COBRA and it's been hard to make ends meet but my family and friends have been very supportive. I'm excited because my doctor finally gave me the ok to return to work. My employer has been extremely supportive and said they are glad to have me come back to work on Sept 17th.

      about 4 years ago

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