Returning to work

Hi ladies! I had a lumpectomy in May followed by radiotherapy which ended on 16th August. I am starting to think about work, but still don't feel well enough as I get terribly tired still, and need days in bed when I feel awful (which are becoming less). Is this normal? I went to meet my friends for lunch last week followed by shopping and was absolutely pooped afterwards! Do you know when you feel well enough - I really don't know what to expect?

13 Replies

  • I had a double mastectomy in Jan, I also had 9.5 months of chemo and 25 sessions of radiotherapy. All treatmebt finished about 6 weeks ago. I have chosen to take this next year off work to allow my mind and body time to recover from the onslaught. I get fed up of hearing "wow you look so well!" When inside you may be feeling exhausted, shakey and can feel quite low at times. You make sure you are 100% fit before going back or you certainly wont be doing yourself any favours. Take it easy and use this time for you. xx

  • Too right you have the right idea work can wait you are more important

  • Ha ha, I was only commenting today about the smile I have plastered on my face as everyone tells me how good I look and how lovely my curly hair is

  • I had lumpectomies in October 2013, 3 weeks radio January 2014, medically I could have gone back to work on 1 April (the reason for not going back then isn't related to my cancer), also I've lived with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for over 20 years, so when I'm really tired I'm not always sure what's causing it, you'll know when you're ready to go back to work, can you do a phased return, but I'd say give yourself some 'me time', although it sounds like you are and over time your tiredness will sort itself out and you will feel ready to go back, I hope this makes sense, I wish you well xx

  • I had as long as I could 12 months in total from surgery and was lucky to be able to afford to do it but even then I struggled I was so tired all my joints ached and I was weepy so emotionally not as fit as I thought

    The trouble is when you are back everyone thinks you are back as your normal self but you will never be that person again

    Keep off as long as you can unless you need the comfort of going to work but don't expect to feel fit and healthy take it easy and give your body and mind time it's been through a lot

  • Hi Moo. They say about 6 weeks of feeling tired after radiotherapy but everyone is different. I'm back at work with an open wound due to complications and a vacuum dressing in place and I get very tired. I don't get goodnight's sleep as night sweats and I think that contributes to the tiredness. Work is a good distraction but try a phased return.

    Good luck x

  • Radiotherapy has a delayed effect and really saps your energy. Most of us ask our employers if we can do a phased return to work, building up our shifts as we feel ready to.

    If your employers aren't up for this, then you'll have to take longer off. I recommend at least 3 months if it's all or nothing.

  • Hi I had lumpectomy and 15 radio from October 15 to January 16 and was told I'd need at least 4-6 wks off after that. The trouble is you feel mentally well before you are physically well so it's a frustrating situation. I had a 2 month phased return 6 wks after radio finished which worked well but 6 months on I'm still tired and it takes me longer to recover after each shift.

  • I had a mastectomy with chemo and radiotherapy. I work for the NHS clinically so was able to take 6 months off full pay. Every time I thought I was okay to go back to work I realised that for once in my life I should concentrate on my own health so when I did go back after 6 months I did a phased return (unfortunately I had to use my annual leave for this) I found that my memory was affected and I lacked concentration but now over one year on i am nearly fully recovered apart from awful hot flushes.

    So listen to your body and your mind. We are survivors and we need to look after our body and mind. What you are experiencing is normal. Good luck with your decision.

  • Hi ..I took seven months off with surgery and radiotherapy .my company was good to me ..note you are fully covered by the disability act which you can see on Macmillan site .I went back phased . Four weeks of it doing a few hours each day but still being paid in full. I have been back over 12 months and after three I am usually very tired don't think the tamoxifen helps. I am only now starting to get my confidence back but everyone is different. Your GP should automatically put on the sick note a phased return so make sure that box is ticked ..remember as soon as you go back people assume you are 100% fit and ready to go and go but that's not the case .you will find your path in this and hopefully get a few tips off people.Take care ...remember you will do this just need to give it time your body has had a tremendous shock and needs to reboot.

  • Thanks louise that is really helpful! I have just been signed off (reluctantly by my GP) for another month. I think she is keen to get me back to work!

  • Hi.mi went back to work 3 days a week as soon as my radiotherapy had finished and it was a big mistake. I too was pooped for a very long time. 2 years on I still rest sometimes. Take your time.

  • Hi. I have just went back after 10 months. I am doing a phased return and doing 2 mornings for a couple of weeks then increasing it. I must admit I am tired.. I would take the time off if you can.. It's amazing how the tiredness hits.. Take care. X

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