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Hi everyone 

How long did you all carry on working for?

I work in a busy school office full time. I have hysterectomy and debulking surgery in 3 weeks but am beginning to feel very  tired. Is that normal at this stage ? I am not able to eat much and have lost a lot of weight which is probably contributing to the tiredness. 

I want to try and work for as long as possible. 


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As soon as I started my chemotherapy I finished going into work. I was already starting to get tired and I thought as soon as the chemotherapy takes its side effects I would not be able to make it everyday. I also thought about the risk of infection with my white blood cells being low, 

As soon as you have your surgery you will not be up to going into work so really you only have 3 weeks left before you need time off anyway. 

If you feel you need to finish now I'm sure they will understand because you have a lot to deal with at the moment. It's hardly surprising you feel tired. 

My third week after chemo I do feel better and I sometimes do a bit of work at home, but I wouldn't  think a school environment would be the best place for u after chemo even if they would let you go in. 

It depends on your job too, I have seen people on here saying after the first week of chemo they have then continued to work. I don't know how they have managed that, but everyone reacts to chemo differently. 

All I will say is do what your body is telling you. If that means finishing work then don't beat yourself up about it. 

Make sure you have things to do at home too so your mind is kept from worrying too much. The days can be long if you don't have anything to do. 

I even started knitting to pass the time on. Reading, puzzles, box sets etc... Anything to rely on once the boredom sets in. 

It's a long journey so do what's best for you. 

Mandy, xx

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I am a teacher and my oncologist put it quite simply that with all the germs in a school environment it could be life threatening.  She put that in writing to my head.   I have had such bad throat problems that I could not have continued to teach.  This is you time now.  You owe it to yourself to be in the best possible place for recovery.   I was so upset that I couldn't work and I miss it terribly.  I have adjusted though.  Listen to your body and do what's right for you. Xx


I was signed off work for a minimum of 6 weeks for my total Hysterectomy, then when Ovarian cancer was diagnosed in March this year I discussed my job with my oncologist and she's signed me off completely whilst I'm having Chemo. I don't expect to go back until sometime in August at the earliest. 

Take care

Clare x


Hey Alf! 

I was off for 3 weeks after each surgery but my surgery was laparoscopic so it hasn't as long of a recovery time. I worked through Chemo generally taking the first week off and sometimes another couple of days and then in for the remainder of the 3 weeks.  In total I estimate I worked 60% of the time. I did it for my own mental health and I love my job! I agree with what the others said it's a very individual thing, I have an admin position in a busy office environment which can be stressful and busy but my attitude has changed dramatically since I was diagnosed so I took my time and didn't allow myself to get stressed.  

Good luck with your treatment and whatever you do do it because it's the right thing for you. That's what I did as my work did not put any pressure on me at all and I am convinced it helped me to maintain a positive attitude all through Chemo! 

Onwards and Upwards



Hi Sarah. I was off work from the day I was diagnosed (11d before surgery). Had considerable ascites and was short of breath, not eating much etc but more than anything the shock was so profound that I couldn't have concentrated anyway. All in all I was off work for almost 3 months before working 30+ hrs again (diagnosis, then surgery and recovery and then in the 3rd month slowly returning to work on very reduced hours).

I didn't have chemo in the end but was planning to take most of it off work if the treatment had been needed (was thinking to work on the good days but play it by ear).

Wish you the best of luck with the op. It sounds very scary but in reality it is not so bad as you just take it day by day; it's amazing anyway what amount of changes our bodies can stand and still function reasonably well, so we can live our lives. A lot of the ladies on this forum had the radical surgery and seem to have recovered well (myself included).

Don't stress yourself too much over work but if you have something that you should transition , now might be a good time as you can probably count on being unavailable for the office for a number of weeks.


I went off work the weekend before I had surgery and did not return until my chemo was done.  At that stage, it was about a seven month break.  If you work in a school environment, you are open to infection from chickenpox etc.  I worked in a public office so it was definitely a no no for me.   I wouldnt have been able to concentrate anyhow to be honest but we are all different.   I returned post treatment to a new normal but after an hour, it was forgotten that I had ever been sick and the extra breaks promised never materialised so you have to mind yourself.



I last worked mid December, when my GP first told me she believed I had cancer. 

I had surgery in February and will have chemo number 4 on Tuesday (of 6).

There is no way I could work right now & don't think I'll be going back until at least September - and later if necessary.

The stress of the illness on top of the physical effects has made me anxious - my job is very stressful and I know that I can't do it right now.


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Thank you everyone for your thoughts and advice.  Work have been great and said I can just do what feels right for me. It is hard to concentrate like you say and being uncomfortable and in pain doesn't help. I was concerned that being in a school won't be great when I start chemo. I think I will take your advice and just take each day and not make firm plans. 

I'm not a great sleeper at the best of times    and now it's harder to get back off when I wake. My immediate habit is to feel my tummy and I am always surprised that the fluid is still there. I have that tiny glimmer of hope that it will go one night and all will be well !!! As soon as I wake I read all your posts and it helps immensely. If you could have the surgery a few days after diagnosis I'm sure it would be easier !!! Sense of humour is playing a great part. Finding comfy clothes not so easy! 

Thank you again to all of you. If any of you are local to Berkshire and fancy a coffee please do say. X


I did not work until a month after completion of chemo then went back on phased return,I also worked in an environment open to infections.

Hope you keep well x


I did not work during my first line treatment. I think it is recommended that you take at least a 6 week break after your debulking. I went back to work 4 months after my debulking at the end of my final 3 cycles of chemo. I went back on reduced time, with a staged return to work. Be kind to yourself. Jo x


Good luck with the surgery. I have every sympathy with you working in a school office as I know how pressured that is and how you must feel you must carry on. I am a teacher and did manage to work up until the day before the op though I was so tired. The hardest part was telling the children I wouldn't be seeing them for some time!

Take your time getting over it: most schools are such relentless machines they will manage until you are truly better.

Love and prayers



I was admitted as an emergency via A&E with significant ascites, pain, pulmonary embolism and shortness of breath. I had been having acute symptoms for about a month prior to this. I was in hospital for three weeks whilst my condition stabilised and OV diagnosis made.

I worked as a health professional up to my admission but have not worked since. I had secured my "dream job" and loved it however my priorities had to change. My full time job became managing my illness and this was plenty to be going on with!  Physically my stamina is very poor and emotionally I am not strong enough to support my clients through their own crisis situations. Being logical I know I could not possibly return to work as I am now but I do hope to in the future.

Originally I was on sick leave but I later successfully applied for Redundancy which has taken the pressure off me.

I am full of admiration that you are working full time but it does concern me that you may not be in the best place physically or emotionally if you work right up to your surgery. We do strange things when faced with a life changing diagnosis.


I agree with the other ladies that you need to listen to your body and it is really important to be as physically fit as possible before such major surgery. I am concerned that you are not eating much and this can be serious. Nobody realised how little I was eating before my hysterectomy last October and I was discharged after 5 days only to collapse the next day and be readmitted by emergency ambulance 

. I was in hospital for another 13 days and the major reason was severe malnutrition. Please ask your GP for Fortisip drinks or similar to ensure you are getting all the essential nutrients before you have this major surgery . Each little bottle is 300 calories and contains all the essential nutrients. They are available in a range of flavours including mocha, banana, strawberry and vanilla so you should be able to find some you like.

Please put yourself first at this crucial time and if that means stopping work sooner than anticipated then do it for the sake of your health.

All good wishes and do take care of yourself,



I returned to part time work for a care agency 8 weeks after surgery, but didn't have chemo at that stage.  I took time off twice for further surgery, & went back to work.  Again no chemo.  I retired in 2012, 4 1/2 years after initial diagnosis, & have since had more treatment including 2 courses of chemo.  I think it was the right time for me to go.


I stopped work as a medical secretary the weekend prior to my surgery.  chemo started about 4 weeks later.I couldn't have worked during chemo and was left with bone and joint pains afterwards.    I was preparing to go back  with the help of occupational hezlth and then I was hit with the bombshell that it had come back 8 no this after completion of chemo.  I therefore successfully applied for medical retirement.   You need to do what's right for you.  Imy co sultant advised me no stress. Ann x


Thank you again for all your replies. 

I can't tell you how much you all help. 

I will do as you all say and just take each day. I am just about managing and love being in work as its one place I can try and   pretend all is ok! I didn't think about all the germs in school re chemo so will probably need that time off. 

So many inspirational people here it's so much easier to feel positive about it all. 

I am going to start loading my kindle and stock piling magazines!


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