My Ovacome
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Giving up work ?

Hi, I was wondering if anyone has given up work due to OC, if so what sort of benefits do you get and was it easy to claim. I'm still working as I was only diagnosed in May but I am finding it very tiring and often i'm in pain at work, I'm 57 and not due to retire till I'm 66. I'm married and my husband works full time so wondered if that affected benefits.

Thank you Babs x

16 Replies

Hi Babs. I have no idea about this, but I know Macmillan have advisers who would help you. They have departments to give adviceon work-related advice and also benefits. If you go on their site and get a local phone contact or try asking at your hospital to see if they have someone the. A lot of Macmillan nurses work as supporters and advisers in hospitals. I know some of them work within the Essex Cancer Network, where I do some voluntary work on a couple of groups.

Good luck with this. When I was diagnosed, I had 4 months sick leave on full pay, which allowed me to recover and get some atrength back. Even then, I was still tired for another few months. It's not a time when you should be struggling with worries like these, is it?

All the best,

Love Wendy xx


Hi Wendy thanks for your advise. I will see the Macmillan people at Maidstone hospital next time I'm there. I only get statutory sick pay when Im off work which is only £17.17 per day that's why I have carried on working.

Love Babs x


Hi Babs

I have been off work but hoping to go back soon . There should be a local Mcmillan nurse who will help with benefits . If you enjoy work maybe you could look at part time and if any top up benefits available . Know it is hard when tired after treatment but hopefully well again soon and look forward to work




Hi babs

I was in terrible pain when I was first diagnosed and in hospital for two weeks followed by surgery and chemo and there was no way that I could have worked. I am an air hostess. Unfortunately just as I was due to go back I had a recurrence, so have now been off sick for two years. I am now in talks with my manager for a phased return to work where I will be on the ground initially until I feel well enough to go back. As stated above McMillan have a department that will be able to help you, also the citizens advice bureau, my CAB had a lady trained for advice for people with cancer. I have also had to do a lot of research of my own as I have really struggled with my finances. I understand that when you have been diagnosed with cancer it is considered a disability so you can claim disability living allowance. Once SSP stops you can claim employment support allowance and can also get help towards your housing. Unfortunately in my case I have had to take the department of works and pension to court as they refused me help with my housing as my property is in London but I moved in with my parents for treatment in the midlands. Am really ticked off as I have paid tax all of my adult life and everything I have applied for has been refused initially, I have had a battle on my hands and appealed every negative decision and eventually been appointed the benefit. It doesn't pay to work in the uk!!!

I have learnt that if we are working and receive a cancer diagnosis we are covered by the disability equality act. McMillan have booklets on all of the above.

I am hoping to return to work over the next few months but for those of us who are unable to or don't want to, there is the option of taking a sickness related redundancy. if you do decide to return to work your employer must by law make suitable changes at work as we are covered by the disabilty equality act, and must accommodate you for follow up appointments etc.

I hope all the information I have given helps you and any of the other ladies on here that are struggling. I must point out that I have had to fight for every benefit as initially I have always been refused. I am still waiting for a decision for help with housing costs a year and a half on but I will not give up as I believe I have been putting into the system for years.

Good luck with whichever path you choose to take. I wish everyone on here good health.



Hi Babs,

I gave up my job when I was diagnosed so I could move back to Manchester to be closer to family. I have been claiming Employment Support Allowance and I also get a little bit of Disability Living Allowance for depression.

For the first 13 weeks you are only entitled to £67.50 a week and this is the assessment phase. After that you will have to fill out an assessment form which asks you a lot of irrelevant questions about being able to raise your arms above your head but there are also questions about your mood as well. The MacMillian benefits advisor helped me fill these out as I found them a bit overwhelming. I've also more recently being claiming a bit of Disability Living Allowance for my depression. DLA is a bit more complicated you can only claim it for cancer if you have been told you only have 6 months to live then you automatically go on the higher rates of mobility and care but your consultant has to fill out a form.

You can claim if your cancer affects your mobility or you need extra care but you need to have had your condition for at least 3 months from diagnosis.

You might be better off claiming statutory sick pay for a while as its more money. You can claim for contributions based ESA which will not take into account your husbands income but when that runs out you will go onto income based ESA and that is means tested. DLA is not means tested as it is supposed to cover the additional costs of your 'disability'

However please speak to a MacmIllan benefits advisor for the latest advice.


Hi Babs

Macmillan were brilliant they assign u a welfare fights advisor, and she helps you fill out forms etc and what you should be entitled to . I have been retired due to I'll health as in chronic pain I get employment support . Have been turned down 3 times for DLA . And have now got to go to a tribunal on Wednesday to sit in front of a panel, which I am absolutely dreading struggling with anxiety and depression as well it's not fair when people are genuinely unwell from this disease and having to go back in hospital in August for my 3rd op good luck xxxx


Dolcie! Have you been to CAB? My bureau had some brilliant benefit workers (paid) who go to tribunals with clients and, usually, win! It can be daunting I know, I have represented at Tribunals, both Employment and Benefit Appeals in the past.

Love Margaret!


Thanks Margaret I've probably left it too late now ! It's this Wednesday x


Still worth going for advice on how to handle it! I was not a benefit specialist but they do have people who can advise you on the best way to go about it. The Benefits Agency, or whatever they are called in their current incarnation will have someone to put their case.


Hi Babs!

I was 69 and still working when I was diagnosed. I gave up work because I felt I was unreliable and that was not acceptable in the job I did! (to me, not my employers - i worked for CAB running an outreach advice centre). Even before I resigned my Macmillan Community Nurse applied for Attendance Allowance under Special Rules. This means there is no need to wait 6 months. I get higher rate, which is around £75 per week, and it is not means tested. You need to need help but not necessarily getting it! At your age, under 65 you could qualify for DLA care and DLA mobility. Your community Macmillan nurse can help you to complete the form or your local CAB will be able to. They also help to appeal if you are turned down. I use mine for help with my housework (I cannot get the Dyson up and down stairs in my 3 storey house) changing the bed, washing floors etc, and for keeping my yard neat and weed free.

CAB are expert at this sort of thing if you do not have a community Macmillan nurse who can do it for you. Make sure, when you fill in applications it is your worst day you describe not what you can do when you really push yourself!

You can get the application forms from the Benefit Agency, probably online these days, just Google DLA and / or Disability Allowances and go to the relevant government website. I know AA has made an enormous difference to me though I do have state and other pensions it means I can pay the friends who help me out an adequate wage for doing it. I pay Richard £15 per hour for gardening and odd jobs and the friend who helps in the house and does my ironing £10 per hour. That goes up if / when they renew the award which runs out in Nov. i am waiting for them to get a report from my consultant.

Hope this helps!

Love Margaret! Xxx


Hi Babs.

Sorry you are having pain, and feeling unable to work at the moment.You may find you feel a lot better once the chemo has finished and you have had time to recover.A fall in income is the last thing you need at a time like this.Will you be able to return to the job if you have some time off?

I agree with the others, a Macmillan nurse or adviser is the best person to guide you.

Meanwhile , a few hints based on my experiences:

Check your employment contract, you may be entitled to paid sick leave, especially if you have been working there for some time.

ESA has 2 parts: 1) contribution based. You get this if you have paid a certain amount of National insurance contributions.(regardless of husbands income)

2) means tested (they will look at your husbands income).

If you are thinking about DLA, don't attempt the form yourself , get someone from Macmillan to advise you and help you.

Hope you feel better soon Babs.



Hi Babs,

I got great advise from the benefits adviser at my local Maggie's Centre. They helped me fill in all the forms.

I was self employed before and now receive employment support allowance, housing benefit and disability living allowance.

Before my diagnosis I was also receiving tax credits and was entitled to keep claiming this for 6 months after my diagnosis.

Good Luck!

Katy x


Hi Babs

Well done on getting through the chemo so far , and I'm so impressed that you are still managing to work.

I looked into dropping my hours, as I had terrible neuropathic pain for months afterwards. Thankfully I was referred to Occupational Health and the doctor there , who I know, said that it was way too soon to be making such a decision. I am so pleased that she did as the pain did get controlled.

I don't know your circumstances, but if you hadn't been planning this before your diagnosis do take lots of advice before you take such a drastic step. Fifty seven is very young these days.

Take care

Lots of love

Charlie xxx


Dear Babs

I'm so really sorry to hear you're in a lot of pain at work. You're bound to feel tired having both Carbo-Platin and Taxol, and I think you mentioned when you joined the site that you're having chemotherapy immediately after your diagnosis. I'd assumed from this that you may then have surgery followed by more chemotherapy? If you are about to have surgery and a hysterectomy you'll need to plan to take 3 months off work to recover and it's vital that you rest completely for six weeks. For that reason even if your sick pay is low it may be a better option than leaving work right away. You give the impression that like me you're generally in good shape so that Disability Benefits may not be an option.

You've done so really well. I think you have been more positive than most of us and you've been incredibly honest and practical about starting chemotherapy, the business losing hair, getting advice on make-up, continuing to work, etc. I did wonder how you'd get on with waitressing as it's a very physically demanding job. I just wonder if there's another type of occupation with your employer - in administration, finances or reception so you can so something less strenuous. I wonder if it's possible to reduce your hours. If you're in pain I think you should take it seriously and consider how to reduce your work commitment as you should be keeping as well as possible for the chemotherapy to do its work.

The advice to you on this blog has been good - to consult the CAB and Macmillan and to get their help with filling in forms and discussing your options as a paid employee. I had an assessment for statutory sick leave and received a very modest payment though it was assessed on income and was not available if you have a certain level of savings. You might also like to ring the Disability Law Services who can give you free legal advice. They have specialists in employment and equality law. Their website is and have will arrange for a specialist to call you back for a pre-arranged appointment.

I'm probably about to retire. I might be in a slightly different situation from you in that I will receive a pay-out from my employer because they've messed up badly and I also have a modest work pension. However what we have in common is being of a similar age and most probably needing to work - for me until September 2015 when my state pension will cut in. My husband and I have been wondering about finances and how we'll manage. I've been looking at ways we can economise, whether I could contribute anything to grow his business or whether I could start a business of my own or find part-time work to bring in an income. I'd like to continue working as to be honest it's a discipline for me and it absorbs me so I don't think too much about cancer. I've started a list of income-earning opportunities. I've let my imagination run riot so they're as diverse as selling home-made desserts to my local cafe to learning how to groom dogs. Not exactly compatible occupations!!

I do hope you can find a resolution to the problem of having such a physically demanding job and that you can find something more suitable. Please let us know how things are going. We're here to give as much support as we can.

love Annie xx


A Big thank you to all the ladies who have answered my question about work. Well today was ok at work we were busy, Sunday lunch is always a busy shift but I coped ok. I have decided to carry on working ( even though I am part time now ) until I have my operation which should be some time this year. Once I have had my operation I will take 2-3 months off and hopefully go back to work after that. I think I will continue part time which will give me a bit of free time to enjoy life and spend time with all the grand kids. I think giving up work would be hard as I would have too much time to sit and think bad thoughts. At least while I'm working my mind is occupied and when I get home I can relax and rest my body. So once again thanks for all you advise and experiences. This site is so good it has helped me through the worst time in my life. Love to everyone Babs x x



Just to emphasise what Annie says about after the op. You WILL need to take at least 3 months if you have a job where you have to be there doing physical work. This is because the accumulated effects of the chemo you have already had will still be affecting you; then the huge assault of the op -although you will feel ok sooner- will sometimes 'poleaxe' you without warning. When this happens you have to lie down - whatever you are doing!! Also, for a good recovery, your body needs rest, and rest speeds up the recovery.

I think you should allow yourself to re-assess things after the op. If you are having further chemo, and struggling with a surgically induced menopause (tends to be aggressive), you might feel forced to ditch work altogether!

Very best wishes,



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