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To work or not???

jsabol's picture
Posts: 1156
Joined: Dec 2003

Hi all,
I am experiencing a dilemma, and look forward to your thoughts. I had my colectomy in Dec 03, which went well. I started chemo for stage III cancer, 1 small positive polyp, AND 1 microscopically postive node, my ticket to chemo. I started 5FU and leuco Jan 04, and completed the 1st course without too much difficulty. I went back to work (4 -7 hour days) mid January. I took a week off at the end of the first course; my hematocrit was slipping a little, got 2 procrit injections, but I am still soooo fatigued. I called out sick today, and don't work Mondays. On my days home I can easily take a nap morning and afternoon and still feel beat, plus 9 hours of sleep each night. I feel like a slug; work days I am dragging. So...
do I apply for my total disability coverage, go beyond my official leave time at work and face potential loss of job afterwards...not an easy prospect for a 53 yo nursing administrator....or just drag along for however long I can?
Hubby wants me to do whatever I think best for me...who knows? Any of you have experience with the work/not work dillemma? Part of me feels that my symptoms aren't "severe" enough to warrant total disability. (My coverage does not allow for part time work) And part of me feels my work should be getting through the chemo in the best state possible and having something left for my husband and 2 teenage kids. Help!!! Judy

shmurciakova's picture
Posts: 910
Joined: Dec 2002

OK, these are my thoughts which you can choose to ignore if you want to. First off, w/ only one positive node I think you have a very good chance of being cured of this! But, if , God forbid, you had to go through this for 2 or more years, then you may have lost your job pre-maturely. I was diagnosed 2 years ago w/ Stage III and I believe it was 3 or 4 lymph nodes involved. I did the 5-FU/Leuk once/week for 6 weeks, 2 weeks off, etc. for 6 months. During this time I continued to work and honestly I feel like it really helped my MENTAL state. You know, as a survivor, I can say that the really hard thing about cc is the mental as opposed to the physical. Otherwise you might just be there at home w/ all of this time to think about your situation, feel sorry for yourself, etc. etc. I think working really helped me to be distracted, stay positive, and all that good stuff. I would not quit. I would just drink more coffee! LOL.
Good luck w/ whatever you decide to do. Like I said, statistically your chances are very favorable. Love, Susan

Posts: 232
Joined: Apr 2003

Judy- Is the place you work at big enough for you to be covered by the Family Medical Leave Act? If so, I don't believe that you have to take it all at once, but can do a day at a time. If so that might get you some extra time and preserve your job.


spongebob's picture
Posts: 2598
Joined: Apr 2003

Hiya, Judy -

I gotta say I agree with Susan. Obviously, my circumstances were different, but I think keeping active both physically and mentally - even though I was dead on my feet - was quite helpful.

Might be worth looking into the family leave program as Kris suggested. I think she may have a point there.

Whatever you decide, make sure it's a decision made for you by you. You'll know the right thing to do.

Best regards

- SB

jsabol's picture
Posts: 1156
Joined: Dec 2003

Hi Kris,
Yes, I am entitiled to family leave, and have used up 6 weeks so far due to surgery and another week off after round 1. The cutting back another day may be an option....I'll lose pay, but ultimately not my job, I hope. Thanks, Judy

bryancarson's picture
Posts: 47
Joined: Jan 2004

It's a tough place to be in. I worked thoughout my chemo treatments and was both glad I did and wished I hadn't. I am a youth pastor and my schedule was rigorous, ultimately I lost track of my goals, priorities, and my job. I started out strong but by the end, I was so beat that I ended up losing my job because of lack of performance. If there is some middle of the road aggreement you could come to with your employer, I say do that. I can't tell you what to do, but my reaction to the 5FU was so severe that I was in the hospital on more than one occasion with kidney failure...but kept working and now on the other side wished that I had taken a hiatus and returned when my treatments were over.
Good luck with a difficult decision.

cmcl's picture
Posts: 79
Joined: Jan 2004

Hi Judy,
When I went through my treatments I worked part time, of course my paycheck was affected, but I was able to keep my benifits. The Oxali/5FU/luc really knocked me out, so working every other week really helped. I was concerned at first but soon realized I needed to take care of myself first. Now that I am done with treatments I am back to work full time,but I still listen to my body, if I feel the need to take a nap, I do. Don't feel the need to impress anybody by being super woman.
Good luck with what ever choice you make.
Take care,

2bhealed's picture
Posts: 2085
Joined: Dec 2001

Hi Judy,

Personally I do not think anyone healing from cancer should force themselves to go off to work if they are so obviously fatigued. Your body is telling you something...it NEEDS rest and recuperation. You are STILL recovering from MAJOR surgery and now you are bombarding your body with toxic chemicals and it is tired! LISTEN to it! Give yourself permission to quit and take your chances...and live!

Now there are plenty of folks on here who continued working but maybe their bodies wer not fatigued and for them it worked. But it sounds like yours is needing the rest. Take it!

I was extremely fortunate. I have been a homemaker all my married life raising 5 kids and homeschool some of them. I did not have to go off to work but was home working 24/7. My folks moved up to my town to help out (and have not left yet they love it so) and I really really needed it. Even after 2 1/2 years their help is needed. If I need a nap I have the freedom to take it. For me it was about relieving the stress load too. We are doing something about that and selling our farm and downsizing considerably. (we took a huge financial hit with this cancer stuff) For me it's about healing and stress relief. I do NOT want to have a recurrence so I am doing everything in my power to alleviate the possibility. Beyond that it is out of my hands. I have to do what I am able to do about it though.

I would think a nursing supervisor position is very stressful. Is it worth your health? Your life?

Just some thoughts.

peace, emily

2bhealed's picture
Posts: 2085
Joined: Dec 2001


If it is activity you need there is plenty to do.....exercise...yoga, walking in the fresh air and sunshine, volunteering with the ACS as a survivor, using your nursing skills in other ways if you need that stimulation. But all with the idea that you get to call the shots with how you spend your time and energy.

peace, emily

Anonymous user (not verified)

Okay Judy, you've already gotten a mixed can of answers to your question so I'll add mine as well. For Bert, right sweetheart, who has been on treatment since August 2003 with added oxilaplatin as of January 2004, I think one of the few things that has kept him sane and able to deal with all of this is being able to go to work. He drags butt most of the time and I have to pretty much fend for myself each weekend and every evening because he too, just like you, is completely worn out, but I'm not complaining. His going to work and my going to work continues to add some sort of normalacy to our lives that have been completely turned upside down anyway as a result of his diagnosis.

Bert is an operations manager for a major alarm/security company and part time is out of the question as well. What he was able to do was take a few moments and really speak with his boss and lay the cards on the table to where it was arranged that he could get there earlier than usual (seems to be at his best in the a.m. because he tends to go to bed around 7:00 p.m. and up by 3:00 a.m.) and leaves earlier so he's home by 2:00 to 3:00, but remains on call if anybody should need to reach him. Perhaps some sort of an arrangement can be worked out for you too. My advice, keep working unless, and this is a big UNLESS, you find that your health is sufferring greatly from in. Then, of course, it's no contest!!!


bluespring8's picture
Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2002

I am having the same questions and fears you are going through now and have been for the past 5 years I was first diagnosed with stage 2 colon cancer and was out of work for 8 months mostly because of what it did to me mentally,But I was glad to go back it did me a world of good to be around my friends that I work with, then in oct 2000 I was diagnosed at stage 4 it had metastisized and I was out of work for another 8 months I had lung resections to remove nodules to be biopsied and the emotional was what kept me out the longest, then I returned and was glad to be back in the real world at 40 years old I just could not see me home all day, as if I were waiting for something. I take care of my health and sleep when I need to. But work made me feel much better. Now After doing 6 months of oxaliplatin w 5fu I was totally wiped out and the side effects made it unbearable to work, I have been out of work since June and now I am on xeloda I still do not feel 100 percent because of what the last treatment did to me. Neuropathy and edema, But some days are ok. I want to go back to work, but I just do not know if I can. I will keep trying but I always take my health into consideration and that includes my mental health, that makes all the difference in the world. So remember you probably wont be feeling as bad as you are now and your prognosis looks good. So when you start feeling better if you decide not to go back to work, you will be home all day with the four walls and time to think about would could happen or not happen next. Life is to be lived. Like you my husband wants me to do whatever is best for me...and I think that would be to do something positive whatever that is, so I have not made up my mind if I will try to go back again, my health is not as good as it was the other times I went back but I am glad I did those times because now years later I would have denied myself that time of feeling normal and forgeting about my problems throughout the day,I think it has made all the difference in the world as to why I am where I am today. STILL HANGING IN THERE! good luck and best wishes whatefver you decide. Dj

StacyGleaso's picture
Posts: 1249
Joined: Mar 2003

Hi Judy!

I worked the entire time I went through treatments. The work was as an auto claim rep for State Farm...and I got to hear people whine about the "injury" they sustained in minor fender-bender type accidents, as well as more serious ones. It actually helped me enlighten a great portion of where I live regarding what an injury with pain and suffering TRULY is! I think if I didn't work, I would let my situation overwhelm my mind.

But, by the same token, don't overdue it. I agree with Kris that the FMLA is a great way to work through the rougher times if it's available. A minor decrease in pay will be a drawback, but if you can swing it, by all means, do it.

Good luck,


Posts: 2
Joined: Mar 2004

My husband has worked every since he was 17 years old. He enjoys his job. So he has choosen to go back to work for 3 to 4 hours a day. I support him because that is the only normal thing that he has in his life. So it just depends on how much you enough your job.

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