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who has worked outside home while on chemo--your experience??

maggie_wilson's picture
maggie_wilson
Posts: 616
Joined: Nov 2009

hi sisters,

i'm wondering how many of us have been able to work outside the home during chemo, and what that experience was like? were you able to work through the entire chemo, one week a cycle? two weeks? etc. please let me know how you fared/are faring?

sisterhood,
maggie

jazzy1's picture
jazzy1
Posts: 1387
Joined: Mar 2010

I was lucky as work from home, so didn't have much contact with the public.

Wanted to pass what information I've learned from others. I'm in a therapy group where I live (all cancer patients/survivors) and what I've learned from others, really depends on your type of job. If you're working on a production line, no way...or if you work in an office dealing with papers and a little public...okay.

Most of the gals in my group work in some form of office job environment and took time off during the whole chemo and possibly radiation treatments. In fact, a few got approval to do some of their work from home.

Also could depend on how you're faring with chemo. I know at beginning of my chemo I'd be shot down for 4 days and know I could NEVER fit into an office environment, but for the next few weeks until start of another chemo I'd be fine working.

Really depends on your circumstances and how your body adapts. Have you started treatments again or just concerned for this in future???

Be kind to yourself and hope all is well...
Jan

maggie_wilson's picture
maggie_wilson
Posts: 616
Joined: Nov 2009

i haven't started treatment yet, but expect to in the next few weeks. i do psychotherapy, so i certainly see the public, but am sitting down, and it doesn't take physical exertion. last time i had chemo was 16 months ago, shortly after surgery, so was in a fairly weakened state, nonetheless, i was able to see clients about once a month. probably could have done more, but chose to rest as much as possible. i don't know yet what chemo i'll be getting, or of course how i'll react to it, but would like to try to work through at least some of it. hence, wanting to know what other women managed to do during chemo.

thanx for your response.

sisterhood,
maggie

Kaleena's picture
Kaleena
Posts: 1227
Joined: Nov 2009

Hi Maggie:

I was able to work during chemo, however, it is our own business so if I needed to take a half day or so I was able to and I was able to do some things from home. I do have to say, though, my treatment was every two weeks for six months. I got gemzar both weeks and carboplatin on once a month. I usually had my treatment on Tuesday or Wednesday, and on Friday I would come home and basically fall into bed being very tired. The only other thing I remember was that sometimes when I stood up or sometimes just sitting I would get a full-head feeling. Like sinus pressure.

I was nervous about having "chemo brain" and maybe forgetting a date to put on the calendar, but it all worked out.

It was nice to get out though during treatment. I hope you can work something out for you that fits. I guess the only thing you have to look out for is if someone comes in sick while you are working.

My best to you,

Kathy

susafina
Posts: 134
Joined: May 2010

Hi Maggie,
I did work all during chemo. I was treated on wed. and took off th;urs and friday. I started back on monday or tuesday. I work 12 hour shifts 3 days a week so I was able to do it. When I nadired I worked only 2 days a week beause the fatigue was tough. I actually felt being at work. It helped me feel some what normal. It was hard at times but it also helped time go faster. But just take it easy. As my collegues used to say work will still be here when you feel bette. Maybe you could schedule a couple of patients but spread it out so you don;t get too exhausted. Take it easy
SUE

maggie_wilson's picture
maggie_wilson
Posts: 616
Joined: Nov 2009

both your responses were helpful. i only work now 3 days a week, and have about 10 clients, so i can schedule them according to how i feel. sure hope i feel well enough to see my clients at least twice a month. i know exactly what you mean about work making you feel normal. it is the only place where i actually feel normal myself. i'm planning on taking off the entire, say, 4 months of chemo, i don't yet know which chemos or for how long, then if i feel up to it, calling my clients to see if they want to come in during those 4 months. most will probably want to.

i got myself a wig this time around, which actually looks a lot like my silver/gray hair, though it's not human hair. we were not able to find human hair in grey, or even salt and pepper, can you imagine! i started wearing my hair in the fashion of the wig, so it won't look shocking when i walk in with it. i had my hairdresser cut some of the bangs, and hairspray it to take off some of the unnatural shine it had. i can't face wearing all those little hats again, frankly.

so, getting ready to face the ordeal of chemo again, though nothing definitive as of yet, but i know it's coming.

thanx again for your responses.

sisterhood,
maggie

maggie_wilson's picture
maggie_wilson
Posts: 616
Joined: Nov 2009

thanx for your response. everyone's experience is helpful to me. yes, i would need to tell any clients that if they were sick, we'd have to skip that meeting. other than that, i think it's doable. i sure hope so, since i love working, and don't want my personal life to impinge on my clients' therapy anymore than it has to.

sisterhood,
maggie

Shiela
Posts: 21
Joined: Jun 2010

I've been in chemo for the past 13 months and have worked every day except the day I receive chemo or need a CAT scan. I'm fortunate to have a desk job and the ability to control much of my work day. I don't want cancer to take over my life and when I'm at work I feel like my pre-cancer self.

Shiela

Susanna23
Posts: 66
Joined: Dec 2010

Hello Maggie and everyone
I am between the 3rd and 4th rounds of carbo/taxol and just wanted to share my experience of work with you (it is not, strictly speaking, working outside the home but hopefully you might find it useful to know what I do)
I'm a freelance science/medical journalist based in London, UK. I have been very lucky to have felt well on the whole both after surgery in November last year and during my chemotherapy which began in January. I work from home and have continued to do so - but I do pace myself. Like, I will stay in bed a couple of hours longer than usual each morning and go out less often. I turned down some press trips abroad (it hurt because that is the best part of my job). As I am wearing a wig and expect to do so for some time, I feel less confident about doing interviews face-to-face (which was always my preference) and will do them by email or by phone instead. I am OK going out doing library research though. I would be interested to know what you all tell clients/work colleagues - I have confided in very few, apart from saying I have medical issues and will be back! Feel I have been a bit sidelined by some regular clients because I have been out of the loop....but that is OK as there is plenty of work in my field and am approaching semi-retired status.
Work has really, really, helped me feel relatively normal and I do recommend it! At my most anxious - between end of surgery and start of chemo, when my diagnosis of uterine carcinosarcoma rather than the less aggressive adenocarcinoma was confirmed - I was working on a complicated technical report. Don't quite know how I managed to do it but it turned out well and I am convinced focusing upon that really helped me to cope.
Hope you are all doing well and would love to hear more about how you all manage to deal with working and chemo. Maggie, I always read your posts with great interest and I wish you very well with upcoming treatment and your psychotherapy work (my best friend is a psychotherapist and I therefore have a few insights into that world)
Susan xxx

daisy366's picture
daisy366
Posts: 1493
Joined: Mar 2009

I also worked during first chemo taking Thurs (infusion day) and Fridays off on chemo weeks on the 3wk schedule. I faired well and tolerated chemo well. Last tx I worked first 3 weeks of my weekly chemo just taking actual chemo day off. No problems.

Best wishes to you. I think you will do fine.

Mary Ann

upsofloating's picture
upsofloating
Posts: 473
Joined: Dec 2009

Hi Maggie. In my younger days I worked thru chemo, actually going straight from appt back to the office, head spinning and all. I needed the job for ins and just to care for my kids, and later worked thru radiation treatments daily for a recurrence. But I was glad to be able to not work thru the carbo/taxol post extensive surgery. I also think the cumulative effects of chemo take a toll - it would have been too difficult to manage a position as demanding as my last one even while doing second-line chemo. So i expect the type of work is significant. I worry about the long term effects of 'chemo brain' - don't feel like my cognitive abilities are up to the level required for my former exec position developing products, packaging, sales channels, marketing strategies, etc. Yikes, overwhelms my brain just considering it.

Some chemos have less impact than others, so that makes a difference. I didn't lose my hair with any of my second line chemos. No Wig Required! :)

Take care, Annie

sleem
Posts: 92
Joined: Feb 2010

I went back to work 7 weeks after major surger for UPSC. I should have stayed at home a little longer, but didn't have the days to take. I had already started & finished cuff radiation. I worked all through chemo. My hospital could set my chemo up on the weekends which worked on saving me missing work for appointments. My white blood count went down after 1st chemo & I had to return 24 hrs exactly later for my injection (neulastin). Therefore, my chemo & time to return next day was on the weekends. That saved me from missing work on back to back days.
Working kept my mind busy for many hours per day which helped me.

maggie_wilson's picture
maggie_wilson
Posts: 616
Joined: Nov 2009

sisters,

thank you for your responses; they really help and are very encouraging. i' m not sure if i'm starting chemo on the 11th or 18th of march, but will start telling my clients--either that i will be taking the first 3 week cycle off work to see how i do, then phone them after the first cycle and let them know if i am up to seeing them at least once or twice or more during each 3 week cycle. or: tell them that i'm taking 18 weeks off, but will call them sooner if they want, if i'm able to see them. i'm just not sure what exactly to say at this point, and do have an appointment with a consultant to discuss the best way to talk about what's happening with me with my clients. fortunately, my chemo will be on a friday, and i don't return to work until tuesday, so that in itself gives me a few days to recover.

most of my clients are long-term, i mean really long-term, one off and on for 20 years, most for at least 10, and one for about 5. we've formed close bonds, as you can imagine, so i need to be as straightforward and realistic with them as possible. with the new chemo regimen i'll be on, there's a slim chance that i may not lose my hair, but i'm not expecting that (carbo/gemzar), and have a wig that actually matches my salt and pepper, mostly salt, hair fairly well. that was not an easy task itself, finding a curly salt and pepper wig. even had my hair dresser cut the bangs to look more like mine do now. still, i can "pass" on the street, but won't with my clients. i do value my anonymity and privacy, so am telling as few people as possible this time around.

i feel exactly the way most of you said you felt re: working, you felt normal. that's how i feel working, i love it, and want to continue through treatment as best i can. it's bad enough having to go through chemo, but it's really hard on me and my clients that my personal life is so impacting their therapy. nothing to be done about that, and i know they'll hang in there with me, but i want to make the impact as small as possible for them. and then, hopefully another remission for another year-year and a half (it's been 16 months post treatment, and what a blessing that has been)

i knew my cancer was chronic, but most of my clients don't, so i know it will be hard for them to hear. yet i expect treatment-remission to go on indefinitely, for years, so it could be worse. i did tell one client last night and it went really well as i knew it would with this particular client who's had cancer and all kinds of treatment twice, so she was not shocked, very understanding and sympathetic, but not overly so. we even had a number of laughs together. would that all my clients could respond as she did. i'm really dreading telling most of them....

thanx again for telling me of your experience. i don't know what i'd do without all of you on this site.

sisterhood,
maggie

TiggersDoBounce's picture
TiggersDoBounce
Posts: 413
Joined: Oct 2009

Sending thoughts and prayers your way.....

I hope your treatment begins and ends with little impact to you...

Your clients and us are lucky to have you in our lives :)

Best wishes, Laurie

maggie_wilson's picture
maggie_wilson
Posts: 616
Joined: Nov 2009

thank you for your sweet post; and good wishes; i really appreciate them. i think we're all lucky to have each other here. truly, it's a life-saver.

hope all is well with you.

sisterhood,
maggie

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