Working during treatments

Hello: Just wanted to ask how you all feel if you work during treatments. I haven't made it to work as much as I thought I would. I am a Paraprofessional (teachers assistant) and am on my feet a lot. I feel so guilty not being able to work after some of my treatments. My last treatment was 10 days ago and I'm still out of breath. I am hopeful that I will be able to work at least Thursday and Friday as the following week is my last round of treatment. So I am just curious if others fight this same battle and what helps them to continue to work.

Thank you and may you all keep fighting this awful disease

23 Replies

  • Hi. I'm a Primary school teacher. I teach children ages 4 and 5 and have been told by my oncologist that I am unable to work during treatment due to risk of infection. To be honest, the week that I have chemo, I feel so poorly that I couldn't work but the rest of the time I feel guilty. I've only had 2 rounds of chemo so far and was hoping to return to work in July but it all depends on my bloods. The way I'm trying to look at it is that I didn't ask for this disease so when I'm feeling guilty about not being at work, I remind myself of how poorly I am during treatments x

  • Thank you for your reply. Just going to play work one wk at a time. This is just temporary so listening to our bodies is so important! Enjoy your day

  • Please know that chemo patients are very susceptible to other diseases. Our immune systems are being killed off along with the cancer. Your doctor is right. Stay away from germ buckets. Pneumonia kills many cancer patients. Stay home. I stayed out of public places for nearly a year!!!! I am doing incredibly well now, 8 months NED (fingers crossed). Tesla

  • It's very dangerous to be around young kids during chemo. Immune system drops usually in the 2 ND week and begins to build in the third just in time for chemo. I had two pints of blood during my 14 rounds of chemo in 18 weeks, 8 of which were stomach wash. Please be very careful around kids. Wear a mask at least. Infection is great when immune system gets compromised. Best wishes

  • I did not work. I'm a police officer. I did return back to work 6 weeks after my last chemo session full duty. I wore a baseball cap, no hair! I used bands and walked to keep from losing my muscles. A lot of protein drinks.

  • I know how you feel.When chemo first started for stage III C ovarian cancer i was able to work my custodian job. However, now I'm so fatigue after chemo on Thursday that I take Friday off work. I'm in bed most of the weekend. I don't feel guilty anymore I'm fighting for my life this isn't a common cold. Stay strong , God Bless

  • Thank you for your response. It really helped! My treatments are on Wednesday. On Thursday my face is as red as a tomato and usually nauseous. Fridays are when bone achiness starts, the wkend is when the fatigue sets in along with breathing issues. This all lasts about 8-12 days.

    I love your comment that this isn't a common cold. That puts things in perspective. Thank you so much!! Have a blessed wk!

  • Gay57, try taking Claritan not the D the day of your shot to boost your Immune system. No D though. Just Claritan take it day of Immune shot and continue for 5 days it helps a lot with bone pain I. Neck and ankle and wrists. A nurse told me and it helps a lot. Best wishes. I didn't work for 8 months. I went back to work a month and a half after last chemo session. Don't feel bad your main job now is to fight for your life. I have stage 3c clear cell ovarian cancer. It's a rare type, aggressive. I was diagnosed in April 2014. Luckily I'm cancer free to date. Best regards

  • Hi Gay, I've been lucky to be able to work at Home when feeing awful, and fro the office when I can . I , however am at a computer writing grants for a nonprofit and can leave when I'm exhausted. I find the structure helpful, work stimulating and people comforting ; in all, it gives me focus and purpose. I hope you're able to do the same when you have the energy.


  • Thank you for your response. My goal is to try and work 2 days this wk. Once I went to work and they sent me home as they said I looked awful. I know I pushed it that day. But just going to play things by ear. Have a good wk!

  • Try not to feel guilty and remember that you need to keep germ free. I didn't go back to work until one month post final chemo last year (so bvack 31st August 2016) and was fortunate that work supported by occupational health recommendation of reduced hours. First two weeks I only did 2 hours a day, then I had two weeks holiday then I did two months at 3 to 4 hours a day. Went back full time in 9th Jan but unfortunately recurrence confirmed 25th Jan and will be signed off again soon.

    Initially I had two months working " if well enough" and did that Feb and match from home on work laptop. Now using up all my accrued holiday for this year and will be signed off on half pay from 18th April.

    Don't go back too early or feel pressured. The mental strain and fatigue is a shock.

    Take care

    Clare xx

  • Hello Clare. Why do we have to be so hard on ourselves?? Lol. When I can't work, I feel cancer has won. But this is all just temporary.

    I do hope you have a good week!!

  • Sorry to hear you are going through this again. My prayers are with you for success this time.

  • Hi, how you doing, iv had my bone scan Tuesday and got my next CT next Thursday iv got a lump in my neck now and really tired and still weezy, Im a mobile hairdresser and I only work 1 day a wk, I look after my grandkids 1 day and I'm shattered xx

  • During my first 6 cycles of carbot/taxol I wasn't well enough to work. Also, some of my work entails teaching elementary children when they come to our historic site for field trips and I was very concerned about picking up colds and the flu.

    When I recurred, I was concerned that the rest of my life was going to be in and out of chemos so I better figure out how to continue with as much of my normal life as I could even though I was in treatment. The good news was that I was in much better health going into second line treatment and I worked with my doctor to focus on quality of life issues. During those treatments I worked probably about half the time I would have normally. I still didn't want to be exposed to common colds etc when my blood counts were low, but in general the second line treatment of carbo/gemzar went more smoothly with less debilitating side effects.

    For each of us, its a balancing act and a personal decision. What ever decision you make for yourself is the right one for you.

    Best wishes - Gwen

  • Thank you Gwen. I am sorry you had to go through chemo a second time. My hat goes off to those who have reaccurance.

    Not going to beat myself up over this. Only one more treatment to go so one day at a time.

    Hope you have a wonderful week!

  • I am half way through my first line chemo and it is not possible to go back to work-I am a peripatetic music teacher. The first 10 days after chemo I am in pain and feeling awful and then this gets better and I am brain fogged and exhausted. No way am I fit to teach. I have lost thousands because of my illness and I loved my job.

  • Neona: Your recovery sounds like mine. I just started my job in the school this year, so I feel extra guilty about not working due to this cancer. I have used all of my vacation and sick days. So when I don't work, I don't get paid. I figure I will be doing a lot better in May.

    I hope you have a good week. Thank you for your response. I truly appreciate it!

  • Hi Gay, Last year when I was diagnosed with IIIc ovarian cancer, I cried more about not being able to go back to my classroom from February through October, (I teach 3-4 year olds, and high schoolers who want to be teachers), than hearing about the cancer. I had weekly chemo of taxol and 1out of every 3 weeks carboplatin. My oncologist said if I wanted to live and fight this I needed to stay out of work. I had 2 heart attacks during the first month of treatment. I had surgery in May 2016 and 12 more chemos to follow. During that time I wouldn't have had enough energy to go to work.

    I started back to work in mid October and took Wednesdays off so I never worked more than 2 days in a row. This worked perfectly. After the holidays, I went back to teaching full time until St. Patrick's Day when I was diagnosed with a recurrence. This time I am doing a combo of taxol/avastin weekly with the avastin every other week. I was told I could continue working. I chose Thursday for chemo because usually I am fine the next day with the steroids they give me pre-chemo. I have the weekend to rest. I am getting behind with paperwork. I think I will ask for some help. I just try to do one day at a time. Good luck to you and take it easy on yourself. It's a long road.

    Hugs and prayers, Kim

  • Gay57. I personally did not work while I was in treatment. I was fortunate to be able to focus completely on getting well. It was the right move for me because I was simply exhausted as treatment wore on. Please do not feel guilty. You absolutely must take care of yourself. Treatment for cancer is NOT a contest!!! Go home, take it easy, get well. Work can wait. Love to you, Tesla

  • Gay57, I wasn't able to go to work. Besides it's flu season allergies etc. Dangerous to be around. Our chemotherapy is so strong I was week. My third week I felt better but I would get tired too fast. If people asked me questions my anxiety would go through the roof. Best wishes.

  • Hi Gay-

    I chose to keep working during chemo as it made me feel like I was in control and getting on with my life as normal as I could. I worked outside in a very physical job during the summer it was very hot and humid last year. I told my doc that I think I did well because I sweated out the chemo as well as drinking loads of water.

    Sure there were days I could not go to work or went home early but I felt better on my feet. When my HG was low I huffed and puffed but moved on.

    I was not in close contact with many people being outside.

    I was able to get off all premeds on the days I got taxol only. the steroids made me feel horrible. He agreed. I went to chemo had only taxol and saline then out in an hour and onto work. I was fortunate as I had no side effects with the taxol. Every three weeks I also got the carboplatin. My ONC said I had to get the steroids as it can cause allergic reactions the more you got it.

    i just wanted to let everyone new to this we are all different and tolerate chemo differently. i had to give myself neupogen shots at home every week on the days I did not get chemo. It was just something I had to get used to. I did have a transfusion once due to very low bloods but I felt much better after.

    Good luck to you. Just take it a day at a time. Keep us posted on your progress.

    Xx Carol

  • I took an early retirement as a middle school teacher. Are you kidding I could have never worked! Good luck

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