Life changes after treatment?

Has any one made major changes to their life after treatment ?

I went back to full time work 2 months after last chemo and I’m very unsettled. I’ve been there for 14 years and everyone was and are very supportive. I have always loved work but now I’m struggling. I’m coping with full time just not enjoying the job.

Has anyone changed jobs and been glad they did it ?

Sarah x

62 Replies

  • Laurelsx, I'm amazed you can concentrate enough to do your job! My chemo ended nearly 15 months ago and I still have short term memory issues.

  • It took a while! I struggled when I first went back. Didn’t think I’d ever be back full time. But I’m fine now. Think I have age related forgetfulness that probably can’t be blamed on chemo!

    Are you back at work ?

  • I own my own small business, so I cut back my hours and work from home.

  • Hi Sarah,

    I was lucky enough to be able to retire.I think I am unemployable! I don't suffer fools who want to moan about trivial things and I went on a support course that made me realise I don't want to waste what precious time I have left doing things I don't want to do.

    Having said that,if I had to work I would grit my teeth and get on with it and then let rip at the weekend !

    What you feel is quite normal, you have been through a lot and I take my hat off to you going back so early,but, Hun, maybe too early.Is there any way you could have a bit more of an extended break where you have time to figure out what you really want from life and recouperate just a bit more?

    This should be your time and I wish you all the best

    Carole xx

  • Ah Carol thank you.

    I did go back part time initially for 6 weeks then full time. I feel I’m

    coping ok with the work itself just I think I need a change.

    I know what you mean about people who moan about trivial things. It is hard.

    I’m glad you were able to retire and feel happy that you are able to now do what you want to do.

    This does certainly change you doesn’t it. Xx

  • I gave up my job as soon as I found out I had cancer. Pretty much for those reasons as I was miserable in my job. I did think about looking for a new job after finishing first line. I made a few applications and actually got a call to come for interview but I was going through second line at the time. After that I decided to take early retirement on ill health even though I was only 44

  • Sounds like you have been through a lot and made the right decision.

    I still need to work re finances and I do want to carry on working. For now.

    It does seem that a lot of people decide not to work or change jobs after a serious health issue.

    Do you do any voluntary work ? X

  • No I don’t do any voluntary work. I am a drug trial sometimes it’s pretty full on with appointments

  • Carole,

    I have to agree with you. I also managed to retire early at 56 and after all my life working I feel it's time to enjoy my home and time with my husband.

    Wish you the best also.

    Ann Nora 🍀

  • Hi Sarah, It took me 10 months to go back to work full time and I soon discovered that I really, really was not enjoying it .Ironically my previous married name was Overy and I was teaching oncology,,,,!,,,,, so I DECIDED TO TAKE EARLY RETIREMENT AT THE AGE OF 55 and not for one moment have I had any regrets. Also changed my name back to my maiden name Dryden although I married my long term partner. If you are not enjoying it is it because you went back to work pretty early could you reduce your hours. iF YOU ARE REALLY REALLY NOT ENJOYING BECAUSE IT'S THE JOB I would think about alternatives. LOVE Chris

  • Your name 😲 and teaching oncology. Wow. Lots of changes for you!

    I don’t think I went back too early.

    I am managing the job and cope.

    I think it’s me that’s changed.

    Lots of changes to staff happened whilst I was off. Just worried I’ll regret the change if I do it. Xx

  • Hi Sarah,

    I have also just read your profile and your dad passing, I think you may still be mourning.I know because both my mum and dad passed within 6 months of each other and it takes time.

    Please try to take time for yourself,take a sabbatical,anything to get yourself in a place you feel comfortable.Your joy in life will return,but you have to be gentle with yourself,


  • It has been a difficult couple years. But that’s why I think it’s time for a change.

    I’ve changed. And just feel I need something more. Just have no idea what !!

    I’m so sorry to hear you lost both your parents so close together. I can’t imagine how you coped.

    Each day gets that bit harder. X

  • It was hard,being an only child,I think you need to take stock,cancer makes you re evaluate yourself and your life.

    It will come to you,just take your time,

    Lots of love,

    Carole xxx

  • Hi Sarah ..

    I was told I'm more than 95% incapable of any work. I wasn't happy about that but it would have been horrid to have taken a job I'd have been incapable of. It would have been cruel to have that expected of me.

    Unexpectedly, I improved but I do get exhausted very quickly. I do as much as I can and have decided to have a different way of doing things.

    I don't feel guilty. I just try to do what I can.

    Work is always a draw. I loved working but I know it's not possible in the medium term.

    I try to help those around me as much as I can. Xx

  • Hello

    I’m sorry to hear how it’s affected you.

    Do you do any voluntary work. You say you try to help those around you ?

    I have started looking now for something else. Maybe a job that I can give something back to x

  • Please don't feel sorry. I'm not. I just do what I can. Xx

  • Sarah,

    Bless you I am exactly the same!

    I think it’s a life changing experience and forgive me I didn’t have chemo but,I did have stage one Ovarian cancer and it has changed me irrevocably.Loosing my ovaries and all the surgery has a profound impact to say the least....I chose not to have the tiny amount of HRT I was allotted and chose the herbal route but,I’m different now....can’t tolerate quite what I used to,life is too very precious to coin an old phrase!I’m presently going through interviews for new jobs and whilst I’m in a good position I just feel like a fresh start....please do get in touch if I can support you in anyway... nobody knows what it feels like until you wear the shoes!Best wishes Clare X

  • Certainly is a life changing experience.

    Lots of reflection.

    Life is precious and I feel makes you rethink everything.

    You’ve have made the change.

    You are going through interview processes. A fresh start to come. How exciting.

    Are you going to work full time ?

    Did you give up your work before or after diagnosis? Xx

  • Hey Laurel!

    I am t he exact same! I find I am physically able for work and enjoy the social aspect of it but my tolerance for the BS that goes on in there is just gone! I started a nutrition course which I am really enjoying and have decided that I am going to go on a 3 day week from January. I am thinking of using the 2 days to do a personal trainer course with a view to doing a course eventually that will teach me how to work with cancer patients post treatment!

    I will take a financial hit with the 3 day week but I will adjust and I know I am going to be happier being away from work for those 2 days!

    Best of luck with your decision making! I totally agree with how different you are as a person after cancer comes knocking.....I am a completely different person than I was before I was diagnosed and work rubbish really doesn't come high on my priority list any more!!!

    Good Luck!


  • Hi D

    Just reading your post about the nutrition course. I finished mine last year. I am still doing the same job but adds to the knowledge base. I enjoyed mine but it was hard work. Which course are you doing as a matter of interest? Best of luck with it.


  • Have been thinking of doing similar!!!

    I had given up my teaching job to start IVF a few months before I was diagnosed (mine was found during routine scans for this). For the last 18months Ive been really involved with a grassroots refugee project which has been incredibly rewarding not just in terms of those we have sought to help but also, personally. I found that fatigue /chemo brain /loss of confidence aside, Ive been able to do a lot more than I thought possible. The project is now being wound up and so at 46 Im thinking I need a careers interview!!!! I had been working with boys with behavioural issues and don't feel I can go back into that type of work... Sxx

  • I’m sorry to hear how you found out about OC.

    The refugee project sounds very rewarding and I imagine therapeutic.

    Your job sounded very intense. I’ve worked with children with behavioural issues before and although very rewarding it can be emotionally and physically hard.

    I look forward to hearing what you do next. X

  • Thank you... i shall similarly be inyerested to hear your future news!

    Id been planning to find some voluntary work but was over-thinking it a bit. I got involved with the refugee project by chance- I dropped off some donations and as i was leaving asked if they needed an extra pair of hands (it looked like they might!) It then grew from there & has been a real privilege... Sx

  • I received a call today from Macmillan. I have an interview with them on Saturday with a view to do some voluntary work with them.

    Sounds like you are really enjoying your volunteering. I’m looking forward to seeing how I can help.


  • O definitely, very much!! Have done bits with the OvCa charities too and really recommend getting in touch with them too...

    Good luck, Sx

  • One of your skills, I think, is digesting, marshalling and translating complex information for others. I also think you are very fine tuned to what others need in how you respond. If this rings true to you.....a new direction?


  • very open to ideas.... & thank you XXX

  • Hey Fay!

    I am doing an MSc in Food Nutrition and Health here in Ireland its with UCD and is online mostly as I don't live in Dublin. I had decided to do 3 modules in the first semester but that was too much with a full time job so am doing 2 now, it will take longer to complete but I don't really mind to be honest! Like you it is very hard work I am doing Chemistry again and I haven't done that for years so its hard but I am enjoying it! I don't have a job that related at all I work in Rural Development so its all very new for me which is probably why I am enjoying it so much! Good for you having yours completed!

    Onwards and Upwards!


  • Hi

    I did MSc in Clinical Nutrition at Roehampton uni in London. I did it all distance and online as me and my colleague could not get to London for lectures. Did 4 modules in the first year and one plus dissertation in the second. When I was younger I just soaked up new information but now it just bounces 😂. Certainly very different for you. Glad you are enjoying it. Don’t envy the work though!

    Keep us all updated as you progress.

    Regards Fay

  • That sounds like a brilliant plan.

    I like the sound of working 3 days and then using 2 days to retrain. Especially to work with cancer patients.

    It’s hard to make the initial decisions but from the sounds of it afterwards most people are very happy that they made the decision.

    It’s s big old world out there isn’t it. Lots of opportunities.

    Looking forward to hearing how you get on.

    Sarah x

  • Tolerance levels definitely lower!!

    I find I have to bite my tongue and walk away from the BS at work !!

    Nutrition course sounds interesting and is definitely a plus to start working towards helping cancer patients.

    There is not enough out there to help with rehabilitation.

    There were a couple of ladies in hospital when I had my operation that had no family. I kept in touch with one lady that was on her own coping. There was very little in her area to support her during her rehab.

    Only one support group at her hospital.

    She needed help with nutrition and exercise and didn’t know where to turn. Her cancer nurse was great before her treatment but nothing after.

    It’s this area that I’d like to volunteer.

    To maybe try and set up a support group in the evening or a Saturday for people that work.

    I’ve yet to meet a lady with OC as my support group run at the hospital is only once a month and runs whilst I’m at Work.

    I think what you are doing is a great idea. Xx

  • I decided that I would like to carry on nearly as normal as it had been for me. I worked one or two days a week and have done this through chemo and the quite severe neuropathy that I have. I quite enjoy what I do so have carried on. I am lucky that I do not have to work financially so that takes any pressure off. Funnily enough about 5 years ago I decided to drop a couple of friends who were always a drain. Support was always one way and used to drag me down a bit. It was a good decision then and has been a benefit during my treatment etc.

    Certainly a review of life stuff can be beneficial. After a close friend died of breast cancer 6 years ago I have thought of stuff differently. After that I bought my dream car , thinking - sod it - I have worked and saved all my life , now is the time to do what I want, so I have. It works for me.


  • What was your dream car ?

    It sounds like you have the perfect work/life balance.

    I think that’s what I need to sort out in my head. A review of life. Xx

  • My dream car was an Aston Martin. Me and my other half are both into cars. A lot of our social life is around car clubs.

    I think you have to go with what ticks the positive box and lessen or get rid of the toxic if you can.


  • Fabulous car !! Grew up going to lots of car clubs.

    My dad was a car fanatic too. But older cars. We grew up travelling in the most obscure vehicles. An old American police car for one !! So embarrassed being driven to school in it. We used to hide in the foot wells. (That was before seatbelts were introduced !) xx

  • Brilliant. Don’t always appreciate when you are younger. Love classics but do not have the time, money, or expertise to own one. I am at the Classic Car show at the NEC all this weekend on the club stand. Use be mad lol 😂

  • Hello Sarah

    I am very fortunate in that I was already retired before diagnosis. It's really good that you can manage full-time work so soon after chemo.

    I'm unclear if it is your particular job you're no longer enjoying and so are thinking of doing the same role but for a different organisation, or you are looking for a different role altogether?


  • I work as office manager/bursar in a primary school. (I don’t get all the school holidays !) My colleagues and head have been amazingly supportive from the very beginning.

    I just feel I’ve changed. I’d like to do something to help other people that have been through what we have.

    A lot has happened in my life in the last year or so.

    I just don’t want to regret any changes I make. Xx

  • How about having Career Counselling? I don’t suppose it’s cheap but they could focus on the skills you already have and perhaps others that you can gain while still working with a view to helping you decide what other roles you might be qualified for in your chosen field.

    You should also consider the length of time you’ve been in your current role and what you may potentially lose by starting a new job. Your union or perhaps Macmillan should be able to advise you on these rights.

    All the best!

    PS swot up on interview techniques. Practise with a friend. Things change a lot in14 years.

  • I didn’t think of career counselling.

    Probably a little too old now!

    I think that’s what worries me a little. I’m 53 and worry too old to start applying for new jobs.

    Also think about my pension.

    I am involved in interviewing at work so know how daunting it can be. And how intense. That puts me off too!!

    I’m talking myself out of making any changes aren’t I !!!! Xx

  • Not necessarily. I would imagine a number of people made redundant at your age take career counselling.

    There are a number of factors to take into account, such as your pension as you say. Doubtless you also have a good attendance record. I do think it’s important to investigate what would be open to you in the voluntary sector as you’re currently dissatisfied. Maybe your current organisation might let you do a job share to give you some free time to pursue those interests.

    Your new job is currently to find out all the possible pros and cons of staying or leaving, likely or unlikely.

  • I too went back to work , for me less than 6 weeks, I was lucky used rubber bands to stay strong and work out. I really had to concentrate and worked a lot on focusing. I worked the graveyard shift, easier for people not to notice some of the chemo brain issues I was battling with. I would like to retire but I'm not sure. I have good days and bad. Sometimes I feel I should have stayed off work a little longer. I had to set goals and I'm stubborn enough to meet them. When I retire in a year or two I'm planning on volunteering at a hospital I'd like to give back. Maybe help others going through there chemo. I do feel that I help people through my work but I'd like to help in a different way now.

  • I finished chemo in December 2016 and went back to work in February. I was on phased return the went full time after Easter. It was hard and very tiring. It’s only now I realise I should have waited a little longer. But I was so intent on getting my life back the way it was. My colleagues and I laugh now as I didn’t realise how much I was forgetting initially. I had to start making huge lists and wrote down what everyone said to me !!

    I think like you I was stubborn!!

    It sounds like you went through a pretty tough time initially too.

    I am having an interview with Macmillan on Saturday re volunteering.

    Like you I’d like to help others that are going through what we’ve all been through. Xx

  • Best I hope they see the value you can give. Volunteers are wonderful. Best wishes for you and your family through the holidays and with all of your endeavors.

  • I changed job after treatment was over my job was very stressful and a lot of time being away from home.

    I started a new part time job first, at a department store and then finally started back in management for a new company it’s mainly office bound and less stressful.

    Ellsey xx

  • It does sound like a lot of you have made the changes. And all positive and happy afterwards.

    Maybe trying something else like you did in the department is the way to go.


  • Hi, suspect age and previous life/work experience is relevant to you...also will new things excite or frighten you? Don't underestimate the value of supportive colleagues.....clear as mud...sorry! x

  • I do have a lot of past experience but age I fear worries me. 53 - not an age to start thinking about a career.

    And you are so right - supportive colleagues are a great thing.

    I think maybe more frightening than exciting maybe the thought of all the processes to go through to make a change x

  • I have given up work so am officially retired age 47 hooray! I thought about it long and hard as I loved my job but can honestly say that to my amazement I don't miss it at all. (Mind you it helps I'm still in contact with ex colleagues.)

    I'm lucky I can devote myself to my family and me time. Currently planning lots of trips and things to do.



  • Sounds like a good change you have made. Especially spending more time with family.

    I think because I’m actually thinking of making changes means it’s playing in my mind.

    It’s just taking that leap.

    Reading everyone’s changes, all for the better makes me think I should do something. Xx

  • Yes, I have made major changes. I am a hairdresser and have worked at my job for just about 20 years. I went back for about 3 months and tried to work but I have neuropathy very bad in my hands and feet from chemo. I ended up quitting my job. It's so hard because the people I work with and all the customers are like family to me.

  • That’s such a hard thing to accept isn’t it. Definitely has changed your life.

    Could you work in the salon doing something maybe? Is there anything that would help the neuropathy.

    I have been lucky I think. Only the tips of my fingers and toes are affected.

    And I think since I have permanently cold hands and feet I’m used to numbness !! Xx

  • Yea, it's hard. I live in a small town so there really isn't anything else you can really do in a salon other than being a hair dresser. I am accepting it. I live close to the salon So I can pop in and say hello to everyone.I will have to see how the next few months go and see if it gets any better. I am on medication for the neuropathy, but it just takes the edge of, and shoes are hard to wear. So with winter coming I can't imagine wearing shoes all day.

  • I loved my job of 38 years as a music teacher but am completely unable to work.

  • Interesting thread. I feel like I always read about people who have gone back to work as quickly as possible and are really pleased to get back to their old routines. I haven't felt like that at all so I was really pleased to find so many responses on this thread that seemed to reflect a similar shift.

    I had already made a big change in career prior to being diagnosed. I had spent a lot of time retraining and was just starting to set up my own business. But I was struggling to get going because of illness and then of course was diagnosed with OC. I was also told that they couldn't get all of the cancer so at some point it would grow and become problematic again.

    So it was quite difficult to get motivated to resume my own business. I did it for a while but realised that I would have to commit more fully to it with more suitable premises and more energy investment. I couldn't get my head around doing this with such an uncertain future. I know this may sound a bit negative (like I've decided I can't do something because of cancer) but I think it was more of a case of looking again at my priorities in life. Did I want to spend a lot of time setting up a business rather than spending time in other ways? I know from my previous career that it can be all consuming and other parts of your life have to 'wait' until you've got things going enough.

    After weighing it up I decided that I didn't want to use my energy in that way any more. The job itself was not the issue. It was more the running a business and all of the extra energy that involves that is the issue. Unfortunately the job is such that you do have to be self employed to do it. So since making the decision to stop I have been looking for different ways to be able to do the job. I have a good network of people who also do it and I do bits of work for them, i.e. extra pair of hands at events and guest speaker at their events, etc.

    In addition I did voluntary work in first aid. I also tried to continue that but found that the shift patterns were too much. Generally I would say I seem pretty healthy but my energy does disappear more quickly than it used to. Standing in a field for several hours was a bit much for me. I did tell them that the shifts would have to be less than 6 hours for me to continue but all of the shifts seemed to be 8-12 hours. So I've had to resign from that work too.

    At the moment I am trying to work out what my place in life is again. I can definitely identify with everyone who has commented that they have changed and how perception of life has changed. I think it's easy to say that to anyone but unless you've gone through it I'm not sure that people can really understand how you change. I have found that people expect the same of me than they did before but because I don't feel the same then I can't give the same. I don't think that is necessarily because I feel ill. Rather that I am much more aware of how I use my limited energy every day. Some things just aren't worth my energy because if I do them then I can't do something that I really want to do that day. So I'm more choosy about what I do.

    My house is most certainly dustier than it used to be:)

  • I can really relate to much of what you have said katfish.

    People think you are back to normal. It’s quickly forgotten how poorly you were. And you are right, they expect the same from you as before.

    And you definitely can’t give the same.

    We are changed. And yes but because we are ill. But I think because we have been ill.

    And like you my house is dustier than before !!

    Except I do seem to have a thing about decluttering. I want the house in order.

    I am selling things on eBay. Lots to charity. Strange !!

    I hope you find something that fits in with your life and soul now.


  • I don,t know if you,ve heard of Futurelearn?. There are a vast variety of free online courses from leading Universities both British and abroad, you can study at your own pace, the courses are amazing, and free unless you would like a certificate etc on completion which they do ask you to pay for. . The courses offered are great from those just learning new subjects as hobbies, to the more serious considering a career/life change. It,s called something like something like Future/ but futurelearn will bring up the details!. They also have courses on health and diet which are very helpful. May be worth you checking out, courses can be from hour or two a week upwards, but they are very understanding for folk who require more time. x xx

  • Thank you for that information.

    I will definitely take a look at that.

    Certainly something to consider for work as well as hobby.

    The nutrition one is something I’d like to look into. So many foods I struggle to digest since the op.


  • Yes I feel life has altered a great deal. Some for the worse, some for the better. I have less energy but still try to be active and do what I can - the most frustrating part for me is not being able to plan much, or too far ahead.

    I think our lives are different after all this and it takes some getting used to. You can make changes for the better if you are healthy enough and have the time, walk more, be in nature more, see more friends for coffee, be creative etc. But it all takes energy.

    Nicky xx

  • You are right. I think the biggest change we all have probably had is to make time. For all the things you mentioned. Particularly family and friends. Each day is precious.

    There is nothing quite like a family walk to enjoy the simplest of nature.


  • Hi Sarah. I was always intending to go back to work (to a job I enjoyed)....I was due back on January 3rd! But....the more Avastin I had, the more aches & pains I have. I just felt that I wasn't 100% - and you have to be for work.

    So I am applying for early retirement (@ 59). My GP says I have done my bit for the NHS (as a nurse/midwife)!! BUT the 'new normal' is going to be a real challenge!!! I've worked all my life. I know I'd like to do volunteering of some sort but I actually don't feel well enough at the moment 😐. So for now I am going to do some 'projects' at de-cluttering!! 😂

    How are your plans going? Linda xx

You may also like...