Back to work ๐Ÿ˜”

Morning all,

I cannot understand what's going on with me at the moment? I had decided to return to work today and all weekend I have been so down at the thought of it and finally last night I chickened out and told them I wasn't feeling well. I feel SO guilty and I know I have to go back ๐Ÿ˜ข. I was diagnosed just before Christmas, had mastectomy 3rd February and lymph nodes removed 3rd March which were all clear. I have an appointment with the oncologist Wednesday to find out what's next. Is it really normal to feel like this? I wished I could just give up and stay at home. So don't know what to do ๐Ÿ˜ข

Best wishes Gitte x


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  • Yes, it's quite normal, i had a very big, 'yikes, i don't want to go back to work' moment before i eventually went back, i knew i had too, the bank manager wouldn't let me stay at home, remember work represents the person you were before the cancer, the people you work with have to get used to the new you, maybe pop in for an hour to see your colleagues for a coffee and catch up, I wish you well x

  • Hey there Gitte, I totally understand how you feel. You have been through a huge trauma, everybody's lives have moved on while yours has come to a standstill while you battle a most horrific disease. You will probably also feel particularly drained too. I am a teacher, teaching children with Autism, I have battled triple neg Breast Cancer and had a double mastectomy with huge amounts of chemo and radiotherapy, I had complete left axilla clearance of the lymph nodes. This all started 2 Oct 2015. I still become very tired and battle fatigue and have achy bones etc, I am actually typing but this as I sit in the waiting room for my 3 monthly check up ๐Ÿ˜„. I tried to return to work but my consultant refused to sign me back due to the fact that stress can feed cancer cells and the fact that the job can be stressfull was a no, no. I have been to visit work and in all honesty am now feeling glad that I have applied for early retirement on ill health grounds, naturally at first I felt Cancer had not only left me scarred, battered, tired but now had taken my career. Perhaps early retirement could be an option for you? I now paint, read, raise money for cancer research and do things I enjoy. I have had to sit back, evaluate my life and do what is best for me. We will battle a bit financially but things have a way of working out. I found people seemed 'different' with me. So early retirement it is. I wish you well and hope things become much better for you. Lainey xxx

  • Hi Gitte

    I have worked all the way through this all be it from home. I am now back in the office - and it is hard, and like Jenny and Laney say you are not the person you were before.

    I've also found that a lot of my colleagues seem to think that I've had the op, and treatment so I should be okay and back to normal. But the old normal seems a million miles away from how I feel now. My boss is very good and I work in the office on the understanding that if I don't feel good I can go home and work from there, but there are a couple of people that don't always seem to be okay with that.

    It is a chore and some days it takes a great deal of effort to go in - it is at the back of my mind to give it up, but like Jenny the bank manager would have something to say. I used to love my job but there seems to be so many more important things that I need to do now, and sitting behind a desk is definitely not one of them.

    Hope everything works out for you.

    Louise xx

  • Hi Louise

    You are so right being in my office is no longer what I want. To sit there listening about designer handbags is the last thing I need lol. I did go back today but had to leave at 3 as in a lot of pain, I could however see on some faces that wasn't good enough. Like you said it is as if they think you have had 3 months holiday why now leave early!

    Gitte xxxxx

  • Work was so important before this I used to do loads of extra hours just to get the job done. I have had to learn to delegate ( which I find hard) and tell myself I am just exchanging my time for money - a lot of my previous work ethic went out of the window with my diagnosis six months ago.

    I have had a couple of days off - it's been bliss, I've been swimming, sat in the hot tub and had a nice leisurely walk today - I ache all over but don't feel stressed or anxious. But know I will be panicking tomorrow as I'm back on Thursday - it's pants really.


  • Louise you sound so like me. Before this I was working all hours even weekends. Since the cancer they have taken on a new girl who is doing my job and it was hard to sit there today just doing little jobs watching the new person doing my job. Felt out of place.

    Would be lovely if we lived close and could meet xxx

    Good luck Thursday xxxxxx

  • Thanks Gitte

    It's rubbish isn't it, how easy it is for everyone to move on whilst you're standing still. I live in Lincolnshire a small town north of Lincoln. There aren't many opportunities here so feel stuck with my lot at the mo. But equally don't feel my confidence is good enough to make a move elsewhere.


  • We have a caravan in Mablethorpe in Lincolnshire. I can understand what you mean about few opportunities. Is early retirement an option? i gave up work after my treatment, as I have lymphodema and as i was a nurse in a dementia care home it was too high risk. I know what you mean about lack of confidence, as that's how I feel about things too xx

  • Financially we would just about manage but I like to have my own money too if you know what I mean - I am looking at reducing my hours eventually.

    I love Mablethorpe - have some happy childhood memory's of days out on the beach there. It's about an hour from were I live xxx

  • I know what you mean about having your own money. I have always worked and it has taken a lot of adjusting to xxx

  • Don't rush into anything , I had a year off to concentrate on treatment and recovery before I went back . I was lucky as I stayed on full pay .

  • If you can take more time off then do it, you need time to get your head around what has happened to you, going back to your normal before cancer life can seem very daunting, as you are not the same person.

    Hopefully all will work out in the end, but be open with your employer about how you feel. Xx

  • Sorry to hear that but don't feel bad your not ready to go back to work

    You are still healing after surgery and mentally you have to get your head round what's happened to your body please don't worry I rushed back to work and wish I hadn't no support from my employer instead a pile of work waiting my god was I stressed so no don't feel bad get back to doctor and he/she will sign you off work it takes a while to accept what's happened to you your a fighter you fought that Bastard called cancer and WON take care big HUG

    Janet x

  • I agree with everything that has already been said. I was diagnosed in January and had double mastectomy and reconstruction surgery 5 weeks ago. Fortunately it hasn't spread to my lymph nodes. I've just got another month sicknote. I'm taking tamoxifen. But I'm dreading going back to my job in a school. I feel as though everyone is living their life and I'm just sat hear watching them. Don't know if anyone else has experienced this , but people keep saying how well I look, if only they knew! I'm going to try and go to school and go into the staff room at lunchtime next week, so so I can see my colleagues.

  • That's perfectly normal although it seems a bit soon to return after what you've been through! If it's possible I would try and stay out a bit longer to get used to all the changes you've just been through. Maybe call in to see your colleagues before you return too-that might ease your anxiety. Best of luck.

  • Hi,I am in exactly the same situation,I am a year on from diagnosis having had 6 months chemotherapy ,op and radiotherapy. I kept putting off going back to work,went in to work occasionally before Christmas in between treatments to help out as they were struggling with staff but while I was doing my radiotherapy I decided not to go back until I felt fully recovered and gave a date 2 weeks after it was finished.As the date loomed I got more and more panicky and horrible anxiety kicked in causing sleeplessness which is the last thing you need after treatment for cancer isn't It? I put in a further 5 weeks sick note and asked them to look for new staff as I didn't feel well enough to return.I am a chef and the thought of coping with a busy shift as I did before made me panic.I felt awful doing it but I handed my notice in the week before I was due back as I couldn't face going back,I have found a different job with someone I know from years ago and will be starting there next week,I feel that I had to start again so I can ask for help and support and not be judged,my new employer is very supportive and understands my situation.I will start on 3 days and build up.

    Try to stay calm and think it through if you start to get the feeling of dread,you no doubt went to work without batting an eye before you were diagnosed, can you ask for less hours?

    It's really hard after being off for so long isn't it, I know exactly how you feel,but if you're good at your job you will be fine. Just get that first few days out of the way,I think it will be okay then,it's going to be tough getting back to normal though isn't it?

    I'm focussing on all the lovely things I want to buy and that I'll have to go back to work for my shiny new bathroom that I'm Planning!

    ๐Ÿ˜ŠGood luck,just remember what you've dealt with the past year and you can do anything!xx

  • It seems very soon after your surgery to be thinking about going back to work. If needs must, speak to your colleagues to make them understand how you are feeling and that you will not be able to carry out the job as you did before. Hopefully tgey will be sympathetic. Speak to your oncologist on Wednesday and I'm sure he will agree.

    As fredster8 says everyone tells me how well I look. Sometimes I think we have to let them know that is not the case especially if you working.

    Good luck with you getting on with the next stage in your life xx

  • You are not alone. Two years later there are still days when I want to crawl up on my couch and not look at the world. I have the ability to work at home, but also must go out and meet with clients. It was a nice compromise after having a mastectomy, lymph nodes and lung resection at Christmas two years ago. I will say this, maybe you need a little more time. Maybe you are not quite ready. Talk to your doctor or a therapist about getting a little more time if its allowed. There was a point where I felt like I would never leave the comfort of my home. It was more like 6 months recovery for me because of the extensive surgery I had. I found the first few weeks after surgery that I felt I could go out and conquer the world, but when I realistically could go out, I didn't want to. Once I pushed myself, I got comfortable with it, but the next day I was doing that all over again. You have to get out, feel the sunshine on your face. I strongly suggest you start small if you didn't....take walks, do a little yard work, go out for coffee or tea, read outside, and talk to people. It may help you feel better about getting back to work. I believe there's also a feeling that "we can't do what we did" before this. Hopefully after all of this, work, family, etc becomes more balanced. Initially I found that after all I had been through, work was totally inconsequential. The only thing that mattered now was getting healthy, my family, my home life. Again, its balance and now, there are days where I say the hell with it. Nothing is worth stressing myself. And I don't. But I do get up and work everyday now, albeit modified to fit my new life. A life I now view as a second chance. But if you expect people at work to view it the same...they won't. And there's nothing you can do about that. I've gotten over that part of it. I don't care if they don't like the fact that I work from home unless I have to go to the office or see clients. You have gone through this, they have not. And they will never understand unless they've been through it. Find your balance, take yoru time but do push yourself when you know you are physically and emotionally recovered. If you can't get to that point soon, get to a therapist. As we all know, there's too much living to do and we have to live it. And living is not work. If work is a necessity then get there, but if its not, find something more meaningful to get you out of the house. I wish you healthy, confidence and peace of mind.

  • Gutted, Take the time you need and return to work in increments if you must. I had a lumpectomy and lymph nodes remove on Nov 4, 2016. I took 3 weeks off. I am a paralegal and unfortunately, my job can't be done from home. I went back to work 1/2 days the week after Thanksgiving. I scheduled a meeting with my Human Resource person and my supervisor and told them about breast cancer and how it's a journey. I explained that at that time I was still waiting to see if my journey included chemo and radiation and cancer medication. I told them that I was fatigued and although I needed to work I also needed some assistance while at work. They were very nice and even shared stories about loved ones in their lives with this terrible disease. It was then I realized I wasn't alone at work and was so glad that I went to them about my diagnosis. They would not have approached me because they didn't know if I would even want to tell them about it. So, include your HR and your supervisor because they may be more supportive than you think. I then hung a BC Awareness ribbon on my door and have become the BC spokesperson in my office. I let them know when my appointments are. I call in days the I'm not feeling well. If I just need an extra hour in the morning or all day they are understanding. Best wishes !

  • As others are saying don't rush take your time. I think knowing when to return is the hardest decision ever. I have had cancer twice and returned too soon the first time, second time round I took longer. Don't forget you need to recover from all this mentally as well as physically . Perhaps the way to address this is to arrange to go n and visit work first. Just aim to be there an hour or so then come away and see how you feel. Its really tiring the fist time you see people after a break so a visit first will help overcome that. Have you arranged a phased return rather than going back immediately on your normal hours? If not that again is something to talk to your employer about and they are bound by law to agree- although the details of how many hours and over what period will have to be negotiated and agreed. xx

  • I had a double mastectomy 2 1/2 weeks ago and am having lymph nodes removed on Thursday- I don't fancy doing anything either, I manage a building so I have to do stuff but nothing is getting done with relish! It's a big thing to go through- the one organ that's really important in all this is the mind - unlock it, talk about it and accept all offers of help!! I wish you all the best! You can do this!!


  • You have had a massive 3 months with almost no time to work through the complex emotions it brings. Its much more than the surgery. Be kind to yourself and draw on your health professionals for help and support. Cancer does change everything. Take the time you need to navigate this long journey. Caroline. xx

  • It is quiet normal. I still feel like that sometimes and i had my mascetomy last march. I ended up having 5 months in all. Dont be hard on yourself. Give your body and emotions time. That is what my friends told me. Xx

  • Hi Gitte, I echo the comments already made. Do take your time if possible - although your body is healing, the emotional impact lingers. when sick pay ends (28 wks) If you have paid national insurance, you can claim contribution based Employment Support Allowance (ESA) - ยฃ73 a week - not massive but helps a bit. Work will issue a form SSP1 when sick pay ends. Call 0800 055 6688 with the SSP1 form and your fit notes to hand and it takes about 45 mins to get through all the questions. As we have paid NI we are entitled to contribution based ESA. I returned to work after 10 months and linked up with others across the company who live with the non-visible ongoing impact of the diagnosis and treatment. We worked up a set of powerpoint slides titled: take a walk in my shoes which shared the ongoing non-visible things will live with, the things that make us feel better and the things that get in the way. We shared the info in a variety of ways through the wellbeing/HR/Diversity routes at work and it made a difference - people understand more now and judge less.

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