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Working During Radiation Treatments?

mimikitty's picture
mimikitty
Posts: 30
Joined: Apr 2012

Hi There,

I am 41, have Stage 1 invasive breast cancer and do not need chemo. I just had a lumpectomy and soon have to go through 5 weeks of radiation treatment. I'm a consultant and left my long-term client in the midst of my cancer diagnosis/testing last month. My company wants me to let them know when I'll be ready for work again. I have absolutely no symptoms from the cancer or side effects from the surgery. My energy has never been better. I currently bike nearly everywhere I go, including to doctor appointments.

I'm wondering if I should pick up another client at this time or wait to see how the radiation goes, or just wait until after radiation. I have savings I can use to pay for my living expenses during treatment. Also my company seems to be pretty okay with letting me decide when I'm ready to go back.

I'd like to get some feedback from others who worked during radiation treatments and those who didn't. Part of me is thinking I'd like to just take all the time off and devote it to healing so that I can recover quickly. I'm wondering if I work through it if the fatigue I've heard that accompanies radiation will drag on for a longer time.

I very much appreciate this forum - it's been a lifeline for me.

SIROD's picture
SIROD
Posts: 2204
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi,

I work during my radiation treatments with no problems. The radiation center made it convenient for me to do treatments at a time of my choosing. I would leave work and drive myself to the center about 1 hour away. I found radiation treatment easier than chemotherapy though I did work the entire time also.

For me, it was and continues to be easier to have some other focus other than cancer on my mind. Fatigue is a problem with radiation as well as with chemotherapy, hormonal therapy and etc. Adjust your life accordingly and you should be fine. I did have radiation burns but, the center gave me some very good ointment for it.

Best wishes to you as you continue your journey with breast cancer,

Doris

aisling8's picture
aisling8
Posts: 1438
Joined: Feb 2010

during radiation, had a regular late afternoon appointment so I could come home and be done for the day. I got kinda tired towards the end, and fell asleep on the couch most evenings, but I slept great when I finally shuffled off to bed. I think radiation might be easier on those of us who didn't need chemo because we're not recovering from months of side effects when we begin rads.

Best of luck to you!

xoxo
Victoria

Kylez's picture
Kylez
Posts: 3765
Joined: May 2009

I don't work but I did get very tired during rads, not at first, but, later quite exhausted. I think many work through rads. You just have to get as much sleep as possible. I do think also that exercise will keep your energy level up. It did help me.

Good luck,

Kylez

sdukowitz
Posts: 250
Joined: Nov 2011

I had no symptoms and felt fine after my lumpectomy and radiation, 4 weeks . . .I did not work due to a long distance to travel each day, but I certainly would have if I was closer to the rad. treatment place. I didn't even feel much fatigue . . . each job and person is different, but I agree, it takes your mind off of "cancer" while you are at work . . . any chance you could go part time for awhile . . . do what you feel is best . . but again, I did not go thru the chemo, so probably didn't affect me as much as some have gone thru . .
Good luck with your decision and treatments . . . Sue D.

butterflylvr's picture
butterflylvr
Posts: 944
Joined: Apr 2011

And radiation was the easiest for me. Although you should allow yourself plenty of evening rest and listen to your body... If I felt sleepy by 7 o'clock I went to bed. I believe you will do fine.

Hugs,
Lorrie

Mitzi333's picture
Mitzi333
Posts: 511
Joined: Feb 2011

for 10 months. It was GREAT to be off. I took the time to relax away from the stress of my job. While off, I went to yoga daily and walked. I was fortunate, in that I did not have any real bad side effects from the chemo or radiation. I attribute that to my health, diet and workout schedule prior to the diagnosis. I'm also a fitness instructor in addition to my regular stressful job. If you feel good and have energy and want to continue to work, go for it. I think it's better to stay active doing the things you love. Radiation was not bad at all. However, I'm thankful I was off work, cause when I felt like resting I did.

Go with how you feel. All of us are different. I prob could have worked through the treatments, but I'm sooooo happy I took to the time off to recoup and give my body a chance to heal. My main job is soooo Stressful, time away from it was a God send. Stress is a killer and not good for any of us.

Take care and let us know what you decide.

{{{Hugs}}}
Mitzi ;0)

mimikitty's picture
mimikitty
Posts: 30
Joined: Apr 2012

I commuted 40 minutes each way to my last client and I worked at least 60 hours per week for like 4 months before the diagnosis. It was high pressure and stressful work. It didn't allow me adequate time to work out or relax and take care of myself. There was a small part of me that was glad to finally have a good excuse to cut away from it all. I definitely don't want to go back to that kind of situation while I'm doing any kind of cancer treatment. Perhaps I can find some easy part-time work or just enjoy the time off.

If I decide to take the time off, I do like the idea of keeping a daily workout schedule. So far I plan to bike to my radiation treatments for as long as I can take it since bicycle commuting is my favorite activity.

Thanks for your inputs!

Mitzi333's picture
Mitzi333
Posts: 511
Joined: Feb 2011

I'm sure you'll feel great biking each day. My daily routine was early morning yoga or walking, then straight to radiation for 33 treatments. It worked well. I didn't feel the fatigue that could be a side effect in the latter part of the treatments. The biking will help. I highly recommend you step away from that stressful job. I was in that crazy race before diagnosis and recently went back. However, I handle my stressful job completely different. None the less, it's still STRESSFUL and I'm totally walking away from that stress in Jan. As I mentioned earlier I sincerely believe Stress is something we need to eliminate or as best we can minimize.

Happy Biking!!!
Mitzi

~o
_`<_~
(*)/ (*)

DianeBC's picture
DianeBC
Posts: 3888
Joined: Jun 2009

Rads will wear you out so you will need to go to bed earlier and get as much sleep as possible. They aren't easy but you can get thru them just fine. Use your lotions, have your rads oncologist check your skin every week, drink lots of water and take care of your skin. You will do fine!

Gabe N Abby Mom's picture
Gabe N Abby Mom
Posts: 2415
Joined: Sep 2010

I've done both, not worked through treatments (chemo, surgery, rads) and worked through treatments (2nd surgery, chemo). And now I'm taking a little time off again. You have to do what is right for you at each step, and it's nearly impossible to predict how you will respond to the rads. You might sail through with few effects, or you might be hit hard by the fatigue/skin issues that can come with rads.

All that said (and because it is what I'm telling myself right now) this is a time for you to focus on you and your needs. New client or not, pamper yourself whenever you can.

Hugs,

Linda

ksf56's picture
ksf56
Posts: 203
Joined: Apr 2012

I have to give you all alot of credit for working during treatment! My situation is a bit different as I've also been through chemo prior to radiation. Chemo slammed me - I was one sick girl! Radiation was easier but very draining. I had some serious skin issues due to the radiation too. My skin reacted around the same time as the fatigue really hit me - around 3 weeks out. I felt like I was hit by a car! I often wondered how I drove home from the hospital although I did do it. Whatever you decide, take good care of yourself and do exercise - it makes a difference. I'm having neuropathy problems due to the Taxol and I'm seeing an oncology exercise therapist and he says any exercise is better than no exercise. Just do what you can.

Good luck with what you chose.
Karen

disneyfan2008
Posts: 5934
Joined: Oct 2010

we each have different experience: MYself I had NO side effects at all from radiation...no burning, chapping, tired, fatigue (Happy to say) I worked full time and went on my lunch hour daily. I even packed friends house who moved out of state! I did it all alond nightly and it was 45 yrs worht of stuff to pack.

So anyhow..I hope you fly through treatment without any side effects...I'll check back on you ...

Denise

mimikitty's picture
mimikitty
Posts: 30
Joined: Apr 2012

Thanks everyone. After considering all the responses, I'm starting to form a plan. I selected a radiological oncologist who's office is near a yoga studio and not far from my house. Each day at 9 AM, I plan to bike to the studio and do 1.5 hours of yoga. Then ride over to radiation and I'll be home for lunch. If it makes me tired, I'll sleep in the afternoon. If not, I'll find something to do around the house or read. Also, since my husband is an acupuncturist, I'll can see him for treatment in the afternoon. I am very fortunate to be surrounded by such good conditions that will hopefully allow me to heal from this quickly.

disneyfan2008
Posts: 5934
Joined: Oct 2010

I never took advantage but a local gym offered cancer patients free (2-3 mths) during or after treatments...

perhaps someone in your area does the same...

Denise

disneyfan2008
Posts: 5934
Joined: Oct 2010

Always been HIGH energy never sit still to I told my dr that maybe radiation would EVEN me out to normal.

AT office visits they would ask if I was fatigue? WHEN i would say I YOU HAVE TO ASK you are not!!!!!!!!!

Denise

Mitzi333's picture
Mitzi333
Posts: 511
Joined: Feb 2011

Keep us posted on how it goes. The yoga and biking will def help. And you have access to acupuncture. That's GREAT!!! Wishing YOU well during your treatments!!!

Take care!!!
Mitzi ;0)

mimikitty's picture
mimikitty
Posts: 30
Joined: Apr 2012

Thanks Mitzi. Your comments spoke to me the most. I recently found a local cancer support group that provides all kinds of exercise classes and even triathlon training to survivors - free of charge to cancer patients. I'm planning to participate in some of those classes as well. All during my many years of a stressful desk job, my body's been dying to move more. Now's my opportunity since I'm taking a break for the cancer treatment. I biked to my first yoga class today - it was an advanced class. It was so much fun! I plan to get as much exercise in as I can before the radiation takes effect. Hopefully, I won't feel much side effects. Thanks all for your support!

Mitzi333's picture
Mitzi333
Posts: 511
Joined: Feb 2011

Please keep me posted and let me know if you have any questions. I know, first hand exercise WORKS!!! Enjoy yoga and biking...

Have a FABO Weekend!!!
Mitzi ;0)

Tux's picture
Tux
Posts: 544
Joined: Aug 2009

I worked full-time during rads; my boss adjusted my schedule. I was a runner, also, and had to give that up for a while (I went back to it.) I felt very little fatigue, even toward the end of rads. Good luck!

DebbyM's picture
DebbyM
Posts: 3294
Joined: Oct 2009

Sounds like you have it all planned out. Good luck and keep us posted as to how you do.

moths
Posts: 9
Joined: Jul 2009

I worked throughout my chemo and radiation. I may not have put in as many hours every day, but it wasn't a problem.

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