CSN Login
Members Online: 12

Working and changing jobs during treatment

Jo Joy
Posts: 39
Joined: Oct 2012

Hi Everyone,

I have been looking on the past posts to see if anyone has made it through treatment and recovery without needing many days off. Is there anyone out there that this has been their experience? If so how did you mange side effects? I am in the 1-2 stage and have excellent curable rate. That’s my first question.

Now for my second question - Here’s the rub:

I have accepted a new position at a new company and will start work a few days at the end of treatment. The new job knows that I was diagnosed with cancer because I answered the pre-employment medical exam questionnaire that I had been. What they don’t know is that I will be starting treatment shortly.

I just told my present job about needing a accommodations such as a flexible work schedule. I will give notice in 2 weeks. (I have to give 30 day notice according to my contract.) My boss wasn’t thrilled today but softened after he talked to the company attorney. He is going to flip when I give notice that I am leaving for another job. Does anyone had an experience like mine and/or do you know if they can make me leave before I want to?

Thanks to my new found community. I know this: Community is much smarter and wiser than any one individual. :o)

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 3207
Joined: Jan 2010

I can't answer your questions concerning your employment, but I want to wish you all the best with your treatment. Hopefully, someone else will be able to give you some feedback about your questions.

Marynb
Posts: 1134
Joined: Aug 2012

Hi Jo,

I had a somehwat similar experience. When I was diagnosed, I quit my job. I was very sick(ended up having 2 cancers....this cancer the least of my troubles). I started a new job shortly after treatments. That was a big mistake for me. It was my dream job, but I was not healed and spent a lot of time in the bathroom. I just wasn't up to a new challenge and had underestimated the effects of the treatment. My timing was very unfortunate.

I have no idea what your job is or how challenging it will be for you physically. I suspect your timing could be problematic and it would be a lot easier for you, logistically, to stay at the same job until you are really well and ready for a new challenge. You need to do what is easiest for you to get well.

Good luck with your treatments!

Jo Joy
Posts: 39
Joined: Oct 2012

Sorry, I forgot to include these details: my career is not very physical at all. I am a CFO so I am using my knowledge and experience to do the job. The new job is literally a half a block from my house...downhill. I would be walking to work as opposed to driving a half hour each way like I am doing now. Also, the hospital where I am receiving treatment is less than a mile away from my home. My chemo oncologists said that if I felt crappy and run down to drop by after radiation and he would give me an IV fluids and check my blood levels. He has a fully functioning lab in his office and can do it quickly.

The diagnosis came right in the middle of the interview process. I was going to withdraw my application because of it. However, when I talked to loved ones, friends, and my pastor about it, all of them asked 'Are you planning on living? If you are, then why would you turn down the opportunity to finally work in your dream job, which you have told us that you wanted for years? It would take you out of the horrible stress you have been under in your present job, which probably contributed to you getting sick?'Even my chemo and radiation oncologists have said that.

So I laid it at God's feet and said "I know that over 100 people have applied for this job, and if this is what you have for me - then make it so. Open the door if this is what you have planned for me, or shut the door if it is not." So, I am not turning back now. That decision has been made.

Back to my first question: Has anyone had mild side effects and felt pretty good through most of this process? I think I have answered my second question by realizing that if my present job makes me leave before my 30 days notice is done, that I will be ok financially and it might serve me to have the extra rest during the last part of the treatment.

Thanks for you understanding, compassion, and prayers.

Joy

Marynb
Posts: 1134
Joined: Aug 2012

Jo,

It sounds like you have come to a great conclusion and it always helps to look forward with hope! Be good to yourself now. You need to give your body time to be treated and healed. Cancer has changed the way I live my life now, whether I like it or not.

To answer your second question. I had minimal problems during most of the treatment, but blood counts got too low a couple of times and the shots made me feel pretty sick. For me, the effects were cumulative and the post treatment period was worse than the treatment period. I had to leave my"dream job" and it was not physical in nature,but very demanding mentally and time wise. You have to take your dream job! Of course you need to give yourself the best chance for a great future. Just go easy on yourself. I can only tell you that I ran myself right into the ground, refusing to aknowledge my body's needs.

Good luck with your treatments! Congratulations on your new job! You have much to look forward to!

Jo Joy
Posts: 39
Joined: Oct 2012

Mary,

I am totally re-creating my life at this point. My life is totally unrecognizable from what it was in June. My only child left home bound for college a month before my colonoscopy in September. My boss and confidant of three years at my current job left in September. Now I am changing employers. On top of that - I am now a cancer conqueror.

On the day of my diagnosis, and before I received the call at work, I was talking to a close friend of mine and I was complaining about stupid life stuff because I was having frustration of not having completed some things I had wanted to do - like I haven't had the time to get my house organized since my daughter left, I need to get the bathroom painted, blah, blah. What he said to me was amazing and actually prepared me for what was about to come next when the call about the diagnosis came: "Sometimes your whole life has to unravel before God can put it back together again in a more perfect way." There is so much wisdom in that, don't you think? :o)

Joy

Marynb
Posts: 1134
Joined: Aug 2012

Hi Joy,

I can very much relate to that. I was a single Mom and my only daughter was on a train on her way home from college for Thanksgiving when I got the diagnosis. Life sure did unravel quickly, though I tried hard to keep going like nothing happened. While I was being treated for anal cancer, I was diagnosed with a second unrelated cancer. The hits just kept coming, but I was determined ,and shortly after my treatments, I started the job I had dreamed about forever. I felt so blessed. Sadly, for me, I was not up to it, physically and I got exhausted in a way I had never felt before.

I hate cancer, but it has surely changed my life. It sounds like a cliche, but I really do appreciate people so much more. It has forced me to make changes to my career and life goals.

I hope your treatment goes well and you take very good care of yourself during treatments. If not now, when? Give your body and soul time to heal.

Hang in there and keep that positive spirit! You can do this!

Hugs. Mary

StruTanToot
Posts: 108
Joined: Aug 2012

My treatment ended Oct. 8, and I'm still struggling. For a couple of weeks after treatment ended, the pain was the worst part I think. Medication helped with that, but it's pretty strong medicine. Also, there was the fatigue. The doc told me it would take two weeks to start feeling better, and it definitely took two weeks for me.

My main problems now seem to be fatigue and depression. I think one makes the other worse, but I don't know which one causes what. The depression is really getting me...I know I should be happy that I'm done with treatment. Still, I am having a very hard time emotionally.

I've mentioned in another thread that I kept working during treatment, but only because I worked from home. It's the same post-treatment, at least for a while I think. I'm working only because I don't have to go into an office.

Another thing is that I don't have much of a support system other than the wonderful folks on this site, so that might be part of the problem too.

More about your issue though...can you start your job two weeks after you finish treatment? You said you will start a few days after treatment. Here's an idea...why not just talk to your new manager. Tell him or her what has happened...that you have a very curable form of cancer and when you start treatment. Tell the manager that the doctor said you would be feeling better a couple of weeks after treatment, so could you start two weeks after you finish.

In such a case, I say something like, "I'm asking in the spirit that it never hurts to ask." Keep in mind too, the manager is human and will be sympathetic I'm certain. If he or she is not willing to work with you, then you might reconsider if that is a place you want to work.

As for your current job, you say it's contract...is the new one a permanent position? Also, your current boss is willing to work with you a bit. If the new manager won't work with you, how much of a problem would it be for you to stay with your current job?

I'm sorry to go on so long...the thing is, it sounds like you have a nice job opportunity. Unfortunately, it came at a bad time. There's no getting around it...this thing takes a lot out of you. I was actually supposed to teach a couple of college classes this semester, but I withdrew after learning of my diagnosis. I really wanted to teach, needed the money, and almost planned to teach the courses. There is NO way I would have been able to teach though and not miss several classes. Also, there would have been many classes where I felt horrible.

This is a situation where your truly hope for the best, but get ready for the worst. I'd say talk to your new manager. My manager has been wonderful to me, and I always thought he was a total jerk. My manager's manager has been great as well. Of course, the company is the bottom line, so you never know. I think though that I would talk to the manager first, even if you don't tell him the reason you need to start at a later date.

If you do tell him/her the situation, he/she will appreciate it and will work with you I think. Tell the manager the situation, dates of treatment, when it ends, that you really want the job, etc.

Whatever you decide to do, focus on taking care of yourself and getting better. You will need a lot of rest the last three weeks of treatment and at least a couple of weeks after treatment. You probably will not feel like starting a new job, so that's another reason to tell your new manager. I don't know what type of job it is, but I hope it's a situation where there can be some flexibility when you start.

I've rambled way too much. Best of luck to you in your decision. Most of all, you have all my good wishes and prayers for your recovery.

Marynb
Posts: 1134
Joined: Aug 2012

Hi.

I agree with everything you said and I just want to tell you that you are doing so well for having just finished a few short weeks ago! Really!
Keep eating well and buliding that body back up!

I hope you are having a good day! I am listening to the sound of buzz saws with clean up from the storm, though we missed the worst of it and I am so glad to have power back on! Yay!

Stay well.

Hugs. Mary

StruTanToot
Posts: 108
Joined: Aug 2012

Thank you for your kind words...really needed them today.

Having been through hurricanes in NC and having lost power for over a week one time, I am SO happy to hear that your power is back on. One thing my cancer diagnosis taught me is how much I take for granted, and I don't think about power until I don't have it.

mxperry220
Posts: 379
Joined: Mar 2011

I might suggest you be upfront with your new employer. It might be easier for you should you have any complications if your new employer is made aware of your situation. Is there any way you might delay your initial employment date with your new employer? I had diarrhea for at least one month after treatments. I do not mean the kind of diarrhea where I could make it to the bathroom. I sometimes had accidents on the way to the bathroom. I am and was retired so I did not have the work related stress to deal with. I know in my situation it was at least 3 months before I felt comfortable leaving the house for any length of time.
Mike

Jo Joy
Posts: 39
Joined: Oct 2012

I woke up yesterday morning and knew clearly that I have to tell my new employer about the treatment and the timing. If I want to have integrity, I need to do this. It just feels right. He might delay it a week more or so if he knows this information. I have to start by the last week of December because benefit plan changes for new hires the first of January. Besides if I am not upfront about this, and my new boss finds out, he will always wonder what else I might be hiding. Employees at this place are there for a long, long time. There is rarely any turnover, even in the lower positions, because it is such a great place to work. When I was interviewing they wanted to know how long I was planning on being there. I am young considering the average age for this type of cancer) – 47 -– and I told them that I fully planned to be there for at least 15 years. Really. No kidding.

My plan for life during treatment is to get up, go to work, come home and do some light exercise as long as I am able, eat well, being proactive with dealing with side effects of treatment, be socially active and enjoy outings as long as I can and when I start to feel the cumulative effects of treatment: go to bed shortly after I eat dinner which is around 8 PM. I have a grocery store that is a 3 minute drive from home that has lots of high calorie, healthy, protein filled, freshly made, (It is called Fresh & Easy) meals that I am going to be utilizing. I have an amazing support system surrounding me with friends that are already helping me with chores to prepare.

I do have a new question today for the community: I went in yesterday to have my PICC line inserted and also to do my radiation planning. So…the Dr tried to get the PICC in my arm but apparently my veins in my upper arms are tiny (that didn’t stop him from trying to fish around in my arm to find one – ouch!) So I ended up with a tunneled subclavian central line that has 2 access ports in my chest. It is covered with a tegaderm but it doesn’t look like it is waterproof. Does anybody know how to protect this thing when you shower? I had gotten the instructions for the PICC line in the arm before anything was attempted, but because I was already late for my radiation planning session after insertion I didn’t receive post op care instructions for it and I didn’t think to ask. I am getting it flushed and the dressings changed at the chemo oncologist office on Friday, but want to shower before that time! :o)

Oh! I did get some good news yesterday. My radiation oncologist is scheduling me for 25 radiation treatments not 30 and the insurance company has already approved it! Yay!

Thanks everyone!

Marynb
Posts: 1134
Joined: Aug 2012

Hi Joy,

I am glad you have made a decision about how to deal with your new employer. You remind me so much of myself, taking charge, making plans, moving forward with optimism. Sometimes, though, life interferes with our plans. Just be prepared to surrender to your body's needs and also to the unpredictability of treatments. There were many days that I ended up spending the whole day at the hospital and there is no way to predict or control that. The radiation is going to give you severe diarreah and burns. Also, your blood counts will be effected by the chemo. Your immunity to any infection will be compormised. Not sure with your above mentioned schedule where you are going to fit the treatments in? I can't urge you enough to make time for your body to be treated and to heal. Your health needs to be your # 1 concern! Treat yourself as well as you would treat your daughter! It is your time to get healthy and you need to direct all that positive energy to getting well so you can move on to that great future that you have!

One day at a time and each day closer to your cure!

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 3207
Joined: Jan 2010

This is what I was advised to do regarding showering and my port. Get some Glad Press 'n Seal wrap. Take a long piece of it and begin with one end hanging over your shoulder a few inches. Run the rest of it up over your shoulder and down over the port, or in your case the central line, covering it completely and going down to your abdomen. Have someone help you tape down all edges with waterproof tape. You can shower and keep the surgical area dry, as the water will just go down over the plastic wrap.

I think you are being smart to inform your new employer about your situation. Keeping this information from them could get you off on the wrong foot and, like you said, perhaps leave them wondering what else you aren't telling them. Honesty is always the best policy.

I'm glad to hear of the lesser number of treatments and insurance approval. It sounds like you are set to go. Please keep us posted.

lizdeli's picture
lizdeli
Posts: 526
Joined: Jul 2009

First of all I wish you the very best and I'm glad you found this forum. I agree that being upfront is very important and a sign of integrity. I did not work during treatment. I work in financial services and have a stressful job I went out of state for treatment so that is reason number one I didn't work during that time. I think I could have worked for the first couple weeks of treatment. But beginning with week 4, there is no way I could have worked. My chemo regime required 24X7 infusion of 5Fu five days a week for 7 weeks, Cisplatin once a week for 7 weeks (5 hour infusion) and radiation 30 minutes a day 5 days a week for 7 weeks. The radiation affects would have made it very difficult for me to work. The last 3 weeks were the hardest for me. I finsihed treatment on 9/11/09 and went back to work on 10/6/09. My employer was wonderful and very flexible. Fatigue was the bigget barrier coupled with some gastro issues for a couple of weeks after treatment. It is really important to rest during treatment if you can. Your body will tell you when it needs it, please listen to it!

I think your new employer may be very understanding if you ask to delay your start day by a week or so. Maybe you can work out something where you can work remotely for the first week or so and get acclaimated with the company via remote access, reading documents, reports, etc. depending on your job.

Most importantly, listen to your body and take care of yourself. As for your current employer I do not think they can let you go for this reason. You should be protected legally. They could opt to not have you stay the two weeks and just pay you for it. That could turn out in your favor.

Keep us posted. Wishing you the best.
Liz

geneviasue's picture
geneviasue
Posts: 89
Joined: Oct 2012

Jo Joy,

I agree with most of the thread about working. I'm on Day 9 of treatment and I know this. Days 1-5, I couldn't have worked. Some of which was emotion and just allowing myself to "feel" the process. I'm also married so my husband was here and sometimes just knowing I could let go afforded me the ability to do just that. This week I could have worked, easily actually. I'm pretty much normal with no effects.

I strongly agree with your realization of telling your new boss. To your point, integrity if nothing else.

I'll add you to my prayer list and please add me to yours if you don't mind. We are in this together and will overcome together.

Psalms 27:1-2,5
The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life: of whom shall I be afraid? For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me: he shall set me upon a rock.

Jo Joy
Posts: 39
Joined: Oct 2012

I will add you to my own and my church's prayer list. Many people in many languages and all over the world will be lifting up prayers for us! At church I was finally able to overcome my mind about this whole thing on Sunday. My pastor and my closest friends on this earth are amazing! And my God is so in control in the timing of this process even when I don't think it will work out. Right now I am sitting in the healing chemo chair getting all the fluids and anti nausea on board before the Mito and getting the 5FU pump for the weekend. I have an amazing peace and love surrounding me.

I got the final offer from the new job this week since the background check is complete. I have made a meeting time with them on Tuesday to tell them about the treatment and the timing of everything. I will give notice to my present job after that meeting. I would appreciate prayers for both meetings to go well and be stress free. Right now I'm just believing that the final week, and the week after treatment ends, will be the time in between jobs. What was meant to harm will not come near me. I will live to declare the works of the Lord.

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 3207
Joined: Jan 2010

I hope treatment is going well and I will certainly keep you in my prayers for a successful treatment. Also, I hope your meetings go very well. Please keep us posted.

Marynb
Posts: 1134
Joined: Aug 2012

My thoughts and prayers are with you today as you begin your journey to wellness. Also, hoping that your meetings are stress free. With
God's grace, soon you will be over this hurdle and move forward to your wonderful future! I hope that you have a restful weekend.

sandysp's picture
sandysp
Posts: 853
Joined: May 2011

I believe you are on the right track. I totally agree with Angela. I don't feel anything like what I felt like before treatment. It's a little scary. I have had a lot of fatigue and the process of all the testing after the treatment is complete and the weekly checkups during treatment - well it's all very time consuming and draining to deal the way we need to deal with this disease. I have yet to return to my sales position and but so far have kept my singing and children's choir director's job. I almost quit when I lost my voice from the Pertussis. It is back now but my energy is not what it was.

I have had to accept a new me. I am listening for God way more now instead of directing my life like I used to. Some day it may be enough that you got the job. But right now, focus on getting better as your first priority. You can't miss your treatments.

I don't know what stage your cancer is. I found out I received a larger dose of radiation than was then protocol since I had three lymph nodes affected. (I got some of my records). I really didn't know this during the treatment and am glad I didn't. My tests are clear now. NED. That's the most important thing: NED.

All the best,
Sandy

Jo Joy
Posts: 39
Joined: Oct 2012

I gave notice at my job this week. Dec 13 is my last official day. My boss is sad to see me go. He has only been my boss for a short since he was promoted a few months ago. We had been peers - department directors - for 3 years prior to that so we had friendship prior to him being my boss. The great thing is he has been in action and already has a contract interim CFO that will be working part time with me after Thanksgiving til I leave. Next Sunday 5 girlfriends of mine are going to help me pack and move out of my office. I wanted to do it now in case I wasn't up to it later.

I also told my new boss at the new job about my diagnosis and the timing of all of it this past week. He has delayed my tentative start date by a week. I told him that if I was up to it I would informally go and visit with the current CFO (she is a friend of mine) for a few hours and glean the informal and historical background of the job beforehand. He also said that if I only felt like working a reduced schedule at first that it would ok. They have had others that have dealt with this. I am also starting with 2 weeks of sick leave and 3 weeks of vacation on day one. They weren't able to give me the exact salary I requested but offered that as a compromise.

Chemo was pretty symptom free. I had some nausea at the disconnect but am contributing that to the nurse pushing the heparin to clear the line too fast. I have had 3 out of 25 radiation treatments at 180 ? each. I have been keeping on top of the skin care and taking L-glutamine for the radiation. My lymph nodes were not involved and the tumor itself was 1.5 cm. The thing that the docs and I don't know is how deep into the muscle it might have been. The only side effects I seem to have is horrible constipation. I am taking laxatives but it is hard to get anything to move. My appetite is still great and I haven't altered my diet much except no caffeine and no or very little alcohol. Also food doesn't taste as good as it used to. I am also sleeping and resting a lot on the weekends. Hours of sleep. I have Fridays off since I work 10 hour days. If I don't have energy to do anything then I rest. Today I have had lots of energy and was able to do laundry.

So now you are all caught up! Thanks for all the encouragement and info that all of you have given me here.

Marynb
Posts: 1134
Joined: Aug 2012

I am so glad that you are doing well and that everything is falling into place with the jobs! Your positive attitude will get you through this. I never experienced any constipation so no advice on that.

You are in my prayers as you work towards a cure!

Angela_K
Posts: 374
Joined: Jan 2011

I did not work during treatment, choosing to focus on healing therapies, nuturition and rest. I thought that I would just pick right back up where I left off after I 'healed' . . .but learned that wasn't the case at all. I jumped back in a demanding job too soon and because I apparently like the punishment, have done so three different times now post treatment. Cold hard fact: I am not the same physically or mentally to take on these big sales management positions that once 'energized' my spirit. They now drain me completely and totally.

That doesn't mean that I am 'less.' I have just learned that healing includes emotional, physical and HORMONAL components that I was unaware of in the beginning. It's an on-going process of self discovery and reinventing myself into someone who can apply the whole cancer experience into a career that best suits the new me. The after-cancer me . . .who in reality is much more 'together' in my post cancer chaos than I was ever before. I know that I have so much more to give now, but just in a different way.

Take it easy on yourself. Don't ignore your body's messages to you and listen to your inner voice and with your heart.

Blessings to you as you press forward.

Lorikat's picture
Lorikat
Posts: 574
Joined: Jul 2011

AMEN! Well said!

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 3207
Joined: Jan 2010

I agree with you, as I feel much more "together" than in my pre-cancer days. I feel I have more self worth and am willing to give of myself to others. I have much less fear of the world around me. The only fear I live with these days is of getting sick again, which I am doing my best to avoid! I am glad you have found the place you need to be in this moment in time. Hugs to you!

Subscribe with RSS
About Cancer Society

The content on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. Use of this online service is subject to the disclaimer and the terms and conditions.

Copyright 2000-2015 © Cancer Survivors Network