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Working during treatment?

Posts: 17
Joined: Aug 2013

Can folks tell me about their experience working or not during chemo/radiation? I am a city manager, so it's a desk job for the most part, but lots of folks depend on me for lots of things and it is not stress free. Love my job and work for the most wonderful elected body, but am concerned whether I can adequately hold down the fort during treatment. 

BusterBrown's picture
Posts: 221
Joined: Mar 2005

It's do-able. Really depends on your health. When I was initially dx'd at age 42, I would go to work with my pump on. For the 12 doses of Folfox, I don't think I missed a day. This time around at age 51, I get my chemo done on Wednesdays (tomorrow), I'll stop by my office on the way home and work for a few hours. Thursday and Friday I'll go to work and work at least a half day, next week I'll work a full 40 and then some. I'm tired when I work, but hey, who's not:)



Posts: 61
Joined: Jul 2012

My husband was dx'd last year stage iv and has been on continuous treatment  since and he has been able to work the whole time except for couple of emergencies.  Everyone has their own personal reaction to chemo even the same chemo can have completely different reactions in two different people.  hang in there and just see how your body stands up to it.  You may be pleasantly surprised.  Best of luck.

Posts: 1542
Joined: Aug 2012

My husband also has worked since his stage 4 diagnosis last August.   He had chemo every other Friday and would just take that Friday off - and leave early the Thursday before for blood work.  He took a couple of months off for his resection and is now waiting for the ileostomy reversal and will take some more time for that.   Hopefully your co-workers will step up and help you out.

lp1964's picture
Posts: 1072
Joined: Jun 2013

...what kind of treatment you are gonna get.

First, schedule your radiation appointment right now as early in the morning as possible for the entire treatment.

If you have the choice between oral chemo or IV chemo, get the oral, but find out if it's covered by insurance.

Let us know what you are getting so we can help you more.


Sandi1's picture
Posts: 278
Joined: Aug 2008

my husband was diagnosed in 2008 with stage 4 - other than surgery and recovery, and the occasional sick day - he worked close to 90 hours a week, commuting back and forth to work an hour and half both ways.  They eventually let him work at home, but that did not stop the long days.  this went on for at least 3 years.  then one day, they let him go (which was going on alot in his business - he worked at a bank as a network engineer), he went on disability and has been on it for the last year. He calls it retirement, because he worked for this bank for 27 years.  He is enjoying his retirement, but only wished it was because he was retired and not sick.  But working during treatement is do-able.  but like someone else said - everyone reacts differently and i would wait until at least your third treatment to determine how you are going to feel.  First two you should be able to do everything you did before, by the third you will know how you are going to feel.

Good Luck



db8ne1's picture
Posts: 114
Joined: Feb 2013

It sounds like you may be getting daily radiation and daily chemo?  You didn't indicate your regimen exactly.

I had six weeks of week/day daily radiation and carried around around a pump filled with 5FU (again 5 days per week). I got hooked up to the pump (through a power port surgically implanted in my chest) on Mondays and disconnected on Fridays.  No big deal - but showering was kind of a pain.  Some people take the oral form (Xeloda).  It is my understanding that the body has to metabolize this and turn it into 5FU (?) so the side effects may be different.  Either way the chemo helps increase the efficacy of the radiation.  The goal is to shrink the tumor prior to surgery.  My chemo/rad was successful.  Tumor (and at least 1 suspicious lymph node) was completely iradicated.  Surgery to remove previous tumor (now being called an "ulcer") and 10 inches of colon and 15 lymph nodes went textbook well.

As for work:  I had early morning rads every day and went to work following my appointments.  Worked full time in the office - except for the last week when I did some of the work from home due to very frequent and uncomfortable trips to the bathroom.  Then it took a couple of weeks for the side effects to improve - although I still worked full time.

Anyway, everyone reacts differently to treatment.  So, I guess the moral of the story is be prepared and have a plan b (and c).  Check back here often for questions and advice (along with your doc's of course).  The folks on this site are very caring, compassionate, and full of good info.



Nana b's picture
Nana b
Posts: 3048
Joined: May 2009

I worked through the chemo. Radiation may make you really tired though.    I had to save my FMLA for surgeries.  Keep in mind you may have ca SDI, so your pay is decent.  I made the mistake of working then losing my job. Losing my LTD and life insurance.  Noes I have a pre existing with new employer so I am going back to my old job and stating I had LTD when diagnosed.  There are many things to think about.  If you have STD and LTD may be good to stay Out. Not sure if you qualify for FMLA/CFRA.  There is also cancer accommodation safe guards when you run out of FMLA.   Questions, please ask or send me a message   



You really have to go with your gut feelings, I don't like giving direct advice but I will answer questions.   Everyone is different, treatments are different and since we don't know specifics,  It's best that you ask the questions with your situation in mind. 


 Keep in mind. I had a great employer too until diagnosed.  They didn't accommodate and suddenly I wasn't doing my job.   Be careful what you share.   

ZophaiRoberts's picture
Posts: 2
Joined: Aug 2013

Hello sooker55... Here you didn't deliver any of your treatment details like how you are taking chemo daily or else. It sounds well to get consult your doctor regarding these queries.

Posts: 2
Joined: Aug 2013

Many people can work during this process. Its depend on what kind of work you do because you may feel tired during this process. Your doctor will advise you to time off the work or not and it depends on how you feel. Some people manage to go to hospital to have chemo then go on to work. if you need to spend time in hospital then you have to time off work.

Posts: 2
Joined: Aug 2013


Hello Sooker,


I would like to suggest you better take a leave for office and take rest at home. Might be your job is an easy task to do but as per the doctors suggestions you should take rest after the some sort of medications better than working. You might be feeling fit, it depends on your ability to do that task you will do or else you left it. If you’re really interested to work on. I know people who love working they don’t like to sit ideal at home. Even my father is a retired employee still he loves to do job. After we restricted him to not to work but he don’t listen my words I suggest to my father instead of doing job do some physical exercise as per your body supports like lite walking, swimming. Now he left the job daily he going for morning walk and spent some time with his friends. Now I would like to suggest you same to follow the same way as my dad done.


Nana b's picture
Nana b
Posts: 3048
Joined: May 2009

How are you? Thinking about you. 

Posts: 1
Joined: Aug 2013

I'm 37 stage 3 rectal cancer.  I've completed 5 weeks of radiation and oral chemo and have worked the entire time.  i only have 3 treatments remaining so I'm pretty sure I'll be able to work through the entire treatment.   My work days are shorter due to radiation each morning, labs and multiple doctor appts in a week as well as responsibilities at home with a 8 and 10 year old.  Obviously I won't work for quite a few weeks after surgery and them I will be getting stronger chemo (no radiation) so who knows what gi will be able do then but for now working as not been too difficult.  

Coloncancerblows's picture
Posts: 296
Joined: Feb 2013

I would get chemo on Wednesday so I wouldn't go in that day.  I have a desk job too.  Thursday's I would go in and then Friday's when I got unhooked, I wouldn't go in that day either.  I had to use vacation the time I was out so that sucked.  After my 7th session, it was getting harder so I went out on short term disability. 

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