looking at disabilty retirement

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Mike49
Mike49 Member Posts: 261
edited March 2014 in Colorectal Cancer #1
I decided this weekend that this fight is a full time job and I need to work hard as I can at my cancer fight. I filed for disability retirement with my job and will have an appointment with Social Security next Monday. It was not an easy step and I was a grouch all weekend but my family needs me alive. I was surprised when the disability counselor was supportive, I guess I am acclimated to think if I can stand I should work. I looked back over the last year and I have been on three chemo regimens, two major surgeries and still managed to clock 65% of my work hours as before, not without some real trials and impacts at work.

I decided I need to focus a little different I am stage 4 and have yet to get in a scanner and get good news. I am going to fight harder than ever but full time soon.

That's my latest update

Mike

Comments

  • shrevebud
    shrevebud Member Posts: 105
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    Disability
    Hi Mike:

    Thanks for posting regarding your decision to go on disability. I too still work full-time - I am going into 3 years of being stage IV and lately I've been wondering how much longer I am going to try and keep working. Sometimes making a full 40-hour week is a challenge as I'm sure you know. If you don't mind I might write to you privately to talk about this some more. Thanks again for the update and take care. Roy
  • robinvan
    robinvan Member Posts: 1,012
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    Hey Mike
    I've been at this for 5 years now. I've been on and off disability. I was off for a year when first diagnosed (2004/05), colon surgery then liver surgery then 6 mo. chemo. I was off for 6 months when I had a recurrence in 2007. And now I am off again. I find it very helpful to be off work and focused on healing and find I don't have a lot of energy or passion for my work, much as I love it, while on chemo, radiation, etc. Luckily I also have an excellent disability plan.

    Our work is a huge part of our identity and it is very hard to let it go. I miss it and hope to go back some day, but who knows!

    I hope you make the transition well.

    Thinking of you... Rob; in Vancouver
  • coloCan
    coloCan Member Posts: 1,944 Member
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    Cancer and work
    Having stage 3 myself I really don't know how any of you continue to work unless your treatment has ended and pain/discomfort abated and all the other lovely side effects disappear--unless economic necessity/insurance reasons/ and age necessitates continuing work when possible while undergoing chemo,etc. or you enjoy your job and can handle it all.I am so glad I was able to retire 4 years ago at 55 with pension/health plan=had worked 33 years-because of COPD and job wouldn't take me off midnights-could not sleep well during day and needed sleep for energy I didn't have/.Since I started this rollercoaster in June, no way I could return to work and do my old job(midupper mgnt),Hope you get your well-earned disability plus here's to all who must continue to work-I don;t envy you,I admire you!.......Steve
  • zenmonk
    zenmonk Member Posts: 198
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    disability
    Thanks for sharing that Mike. There are always many questions surrounding the different disability issues. Your experience can help.
  • luv3jay
    luv3jay Member Posts: 533 Member
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    Mike, I'm glad you have made
    Mike, I'm glad you have made the decision to stop working and fight this thing full time! My doctor, family and friends have been trying to push me in that direction and I must say that working fulltime and trying to fight this disease is overwhelming. To add to that, I am a single parent (divorced one month before dx!), so it's really overwhelming to me. And co-workers claim to understand, but they really don't if they haven't been in our shoes or had someone close to them go through this. When you are at work, they expect 110%, no matter how fatigued, nauseated or depressed you may be. Whew! It's exhausting! And I can see the irritation in my supervisors eyes when I have to go out on short term disability for each surgery...even though he's been pretty great about things. I wish I had the guts to do what you are doing...but right now, I feel the need to keep pressing. Good luck to you and be blessed! I'm praying for you.
  • johnsfo
    johnsfo Member Posts: 47
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    luv3jay said:

    Mike, I'm glad you have made
    Mike, I'm glad you have made the decision to stop working and fight this thing full time! My doctor, family and friends have been trying to push me in that direction and I must say that working fulltime and trying to fight this disease is overwhelming. To add to that, I am a single parent (divorced one month before dx!), so it's really overwhelming to me. And co-workers claim to understand, but they really don't if they haven't been in our shoes or had someone close to them go through this. When you are at work, they expect 110%, no matter how fatigued, nauseated or depressed you may be. Whew! It's exhausting! And I can see the irritation in my supervisors eyes when I have to go out on short term disability for each surgery...even though he's been pretty great about things. I wish I had the guts to do what you are doing...but right now, I feel the need to keep pressing. Good luck to you and be blessed! I'm praying for you.

    cancer and work
    Dear Mike,

    When I was first diagnosed about two years ago, I didn't go on leave because I wanted to keep my life as normal as possible. In looking back, I see now that part of my motivation was also competitive -- if other people could continue to work through surgery and chemo, I certainly could too. I had also been so career identified for so long that I couldn't imagine how I could live well without continuing to pursue my career. One of the effects of chemo for me, though, was severe cognitive problems, sometimes called "chemo brain" but a more accurate name for my experiences would be "temporary chemo-induced dementia." The memory holes, inability to organize complex thoughts, and lack of spontaneous and creative thinking severely compromised my ability to perform my job (I'm and academic), and my reputation suffered (especially because I didn't want most of my students and colleagues to know I had cancer or was having treatments).

    Funny how things change. The cognitive problems led to a crisis, and I went on temporary leave. I realized then that being very open about my cancer and treatments made my life much easier, and I also realized that in order to live well with cancer I would need to reevaluate where the real strengths and pleasures in my life are. To my surprise, I didn't miss work much. I found that I was able to channel that work-related energy into other creative projects and that I needed the time off to take care of my health and to be with my partner and my friends. I did go back to work, but when I had a recurrence early this year I went on short-term leave even before I began treatments. That short-term leave has become long-term, and with another recurrence in August and ongoing problems I do not expect to return to work. That would have seemed unimaginable to me two years ago, but it feels just right to me now.

    Two years ago, when I asked my surgeon whether I would need to go on leave from work she gave me two pieces of advice: 1) "Having cancer is a full-time job"; 2) "Do whatever is most wholesome for you."

    Great advice! I have learned to follow it.

    My best wishes to you.

    John
  • bdee
    bdee Member Posts: 304
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    Mike,
    I really didn't have much choice when I was diagnosed with Stage IV. In January I had a major surgery with 10 pounds of mucous removed from my abdomen. While recouping from this, I worked from home about 5 or 6 hours a day. Then in February I started chemo and for the first three months of chemo I thought I would die. The oxy was killing me faster than the cancer could. I couldn't get out of bed because I didn't have any strength. I couldn't eat solid food and any food I ate came out one end or the other. In May my onc took me off oxy and left me on 5FU and Avastin, which I tolerate quite well.
    In May my husband went on line and filled out all the paper work for Disability. I was approved within five days and started receiving disablity in August. From all we had read on the internet the magic words are Stage IV.
    There are days now that I wish I was at work, but it wouldn't be fair to my work for me to just work five or six days out of a whole month.

    Good luck to you.
    Debbie
  • Mike49
    Mike49 Member Posts: 261
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    johnsfo said:

    cancer and work
    Dear Mike,

    When I was first diagnosed about two years ago, I didn't go on leave because I wanted to keep my life as normal as possible. In looking back, I see now that part of my motivation was also competitive -- if other people could continue to work through surgery and chemo, I certainly could too. I had also been so career identified for so long that I couldn't imagine how I could live well without continuing to pursue my career. One of the effects of chemo for me, though, was severe cognitive problems, sometimes called "chemo brain" but a more accurate name for my experiences would be "temporary chemo-induced dementia." The memory holes, inability to organize complex thoughts, and lack of spontaneous and creative thinking severely compromised my ability to perform my job (I'm and academic), and my reputation suffered (especially because I didn't want most of my students and colleagues to know I had cancer or was having treatments).

    Funny how things change. The cognitive problems led to a crisis, and I went on temporary leave. I realized then that being very open about my cancer and treatments made my life much easier, and I also realized that in order to live well with cancer I would need to reevaluate where the real strengths and pleasures in my life are. To my surprise, I didn't miss work much. I found that I was able to channel that work-related energy into other creative projects and that I needed the time off to take care of my health and to be with my partner and my friends. I did go back to work, but when I had a recurrence early this year I went on short-term leave even before I began treatments. That short-term leave has become long-term, and with another recurrence in August and ongoing problems I do not expect to return to work. That would have seemed unimaginable to me two years ago, but it feels just right to me now.

    Two years ago, when I asked my surgeon whether I would need to go on leave from work she gave me two pieces of advice: 1) "Having cancer is a full-time job"; 2) "Do whatever is most wholesome for you."

    Great advice! I have learned to follow it.

    My best wishes to you.

    John

    You hit it on the head
    I have spent so many years defining myself by my career that I had identified myself as a hospital administrator but really I'm Mike and my life experiences are still there, they just are not as important as my life and family.

    Your message meant a great deal.

    Thanks
  • Mike49
    Mike49 Member Posts: 261
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    Thanks for all the positives
    I really appreciate the support you have all shown me.

    Thanks

    Mike
  • tootsie1
    tootsie1 Member Posts: 5,044 Member
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    Hard decision
    Mike,

    I haven't been in that position, but I imagine it would be such a hard decision. I applaud you for doing what is right for your health. I'm sure that if you go through mixed emotions, you will find the support you need here. I'll be praying for peace of mind for you on this one.

    *hugs*
    Gail
  • Kathleen808
    Kathleen808 Member Posts: 2,342 Member
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    Mike
    Mike,

    We don't know how people continue to work while on chemo. **** is not allowed to work since he is a pilot. He has to be cancer free for a year before he can go back to work and even then they will look at him hard. So, he has not worked since December 08. He was diagnosed in January right before he was supposed to leave on a trip.
    **** feels like you do, he needs to put his all into beating cancer for the girls and me. Because he is not working he can work out and then rest. He can spend great time with family and friends and then rest. He can surf and then rest. He has given time to our church and to our neighborhood. He does things that will keep his spirits up and keep him strong.
    Best to you Mike. I know you will be so pleased to have time to take care of yourself and spend wonderful time with your family.
    Aloha,
    Kathleen