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Anyone else work during treatment?

Posts: 119
Joined: Jan 2007

I'll be doing my 5th treatment this week. I've been doing them at the hospital as inpatient but last go around I did outpatient. This last treatment was absolutely the worst. I called the dr's office and they did blood work last week to check my WBC, etc. My results were very good despite the "chemo". The onc nurse said that this was normal, the effects are cumulative and would get worse each treatment. She & I have a totally different outlook on this whole "chemo" thing. She said from day one that I would lose all my hair (so far she is wrong, I'm so thankful) and that I would NOT be able to work. I'm still working but I do have to admit it's getting more difficult to not give in to the side effects, I'm so tired!!

Guess I'm looking for some input from anyone out there that's continued to work and make it. I'm really tired and can't wait for the treatments to be over. After this one, I'm halfway through!!!

Thanks for any encouragement or advice from you, my friends.



StacyGleaso's picture
Posts: 1249
Joined: Mar 2003


Congrats on making it to your halfway point! That in itself is HUGE, and I applaud you!!! I worked through both times I had chemo....the time prior to my surgery which also included radiation, as well as the time after my surgery, which was to clean up microscopic nippers still cruising around. I was stage 4 with liver mets, and that was 5 and a half years ago. Been clear ever since. I was WAY fortunate to have had no side effects, but I think my 3 kids kept me from being able to get tired. You can do it! But also listen to your body....REST WHEN YOU NEED TO!!



Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

I have been working throughout my chemo (FOLFOX plus Avastin), as I did 2 yrs ago when I was having FOLFOX only. This being said, I am a college teacher, and I have quite a lot of flexibility in my hours. Right now I'm 3/4 thro my chemo (I've done 9). I usually work at home for a couple of hours, go into the office late morning, come home around 4-5, nap, maybe work a little more in the evening. Fatigue really is a factor. I NEED a nap every day. Do you have any flexibility with your work? Even a little shut-eye at lunch can help. I sometimes use a meditation/relaxation tape just in a chair in my office.
Hey - congratulations on being almost half way thro! That's great. What other side effects are you having? Maybe there's some tips or advice others can offer. Sending you warm wishes.

Posts: 119
Joined: Jan 2007

Thanks for the response and, yes, I do have a flexible work schedule. I've asked for work-at-home benefits. I work for the government, flexibility w/work hours, etc. is good. I do have to say that I have to challenge the "powers that be" every time I need to exercise my "rights".

I do believe the fatigue is tough but I'm having nausea throughout my off week. I'm doing the Zofran and phenergan as needed, which makes me sleepy.

Neuropathy symptoms are a real problem, too, my legs feel so heavy at times. I have to stand up and get my bearings before I walk. My doc did reduce the dosage by 10% which helped some and he also increased the length of the drip from 2 hrs to 4hrs. I've noticed, also, that my cognitive abilities are compromised, I'm thinking a whole lot harder now.

Thanks for your thoughts!

Posts: 80
Joined: Nov 2006

Hi Char,
My husband (dx stageIV w/ liver mets)has worked through his treatment so far. He is on round 7 of 11 Folfox treatments. He did have 5 weeks of chemoradiation and had to go on medical leave for about a month due to pain issues. He is really lucky that he can work at home when he wants to. He really is unable to do any work on chemo day (Wed.)but he seems to be able to do a bit on Thurs. and Fri. He HAS to sleep during the day. He has severe nausea problems and is on a cocktail of 5 anti-nausea drugs some of which totally knock him out. But-he really seems to do better with the nausea and fatigue if he sleeps as much as he can whenever he can.
Congrats on being halfway through!
Heather and Carl

Betsydoglover's picture
Posts: 1256
Joined: Jul 2005

Hi Char - I was on Xeloda/oxal/Avastin. I also had a flexible work schedule and had recently switched to being part time, so I didn't HAVE to work more than 24 hrs/wk. I took the week of my infusion off (for the most part - sometimes worked a handful of hours from home). Then, the next two weeks I was in the office. Back home for the first week of the next cycle. It worked for me - glad, however, that I did not have to put in 40 hours - made it easier to work around the tiredness.

Congratulations on being almost halfway through - you can do it!


jsabol's picture
Posts: 1156
Joined: Dec 2003

Hi Char,
Your post made me think again about my dilemma of trying to decide whether to continue work through my 6 months of chemo. I work as a nurse/ administrator in long term care, with an emphasis on family and staff teaching and support about dementia. I had a hard time feeling like I was doing the job I expected of me, particularly due to the cumulative effects of fatigue.
My first onc kept referring to my treatment as "chemo lite" and assured me that he had lots of patients who worked full time plus through treatment. I finally wised up and switched to another onc in the practice who listened to my side effects, and asked what I was saving my short term disability for? (I would fall asleep on the treatment table while waiting for my weekly Friday appt) I took the last 3 months off, focused on me, my kids and hubby, and watched my garden grow. The de-stressing, for me, was truly worth it.
Tough decision, but listen to your body and work out what's best for you. Judy

kathleenss's picture
Posts: 49
Joined: Nov 2006

I'm on Folfox. I have my 9th treatment out of 12 or 13 tomorrow. I was off work for about 4 weeks after my surgery, a laporoscopic abdominoperineal resection for rectal cancer. When I went back to work, I started half time and increased my time as I felt better. My work is physically easy. I work at a library, and since I started treatment they have had me cataloging and processing books in my office. I keep away from the public due to immunity problems. My treatments are every 2 weeks, and I have had delays totalling 3 weeks so far due to white cell problems. My red cells are pretty low, but I just get a shot and my treatment goes on as planned. I take the whole day off on the Tuesday I have chemo. I go home with a pump for 48 hours, and except for one time, I work on Wednesday. I take a little time off adjacent to my lunch hour on Thursday to go have the pump taken off. Once or twice I went home afterwards, and once I took off Friday, too. After work, I am useless. I go home and lie around or play at the computer and then go to bed. We go out camping every month or two to recharge. I've been lucky with side effects. My hair is thin, I've had mouth and throat sores, and my hands are sore and cold-sensitive most of the time now. I have gotten really, really tired, and it didn't go away as much as it did early in my treatments, but I'm making it. When I don't feel well, they leave me alone, and I work with the Ipod plugged in my ears. When I feel okay, we joke and laugh a lot. I live close enough to work to go home for lunch, where I spend 40 minutes in a recliner. I take breaks morning and afternoon. I admit to having dozed off in my chair a couple of times, but not for long. Accept help, get rest where you can, lighten up on any activities you can, and see what adaptations you can make at work to ease things for you. Working makes it go faster, and the money is nice, too. The daily contact with friends is very good. And for goodness sake, laughter helps a lot! God bless. It's temporary, and you're closer to finishing it every day.

KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

I am self-employed, so I had no choice but to work between treatments...Luckily (????) the worst was over the Christmas/New Year period...

My clients were soooo understanding...I worked when I could, went home when I was tired...

BTW......Happy dance for half way!!!

Hugs, Kathi

catherine58's picture
Posts: 92
Joined: Feb 2007

Hello Char

Well done getting half way through! I'm also doing ten cycles (rather than the usual 12) and will have to gird my loins for round four next week (wonder why your onc recommended 10?). The first two were bearable, the last one quite a bit worse (particularly the sore mouth, tiredness and blistering of hands). How I loathe chemo!

I'm not working at the moment, although I probably could during the second week of each cycle, if I really pushed myself. My worst 48 hours are immediately after the pump has been disconnected when I find myself wilting. I am a single mother with two school two age children and I find that taking care of them plus all the usual domestic chores saps most of my energy. I do try to exercise every day (walking, plus a bit of gentle yoga and Pilates) which seems to help.

A friend who was successfully cured of his lymphoma told me me to view this chemo in the context of eternity, which makes the duration of the course seem relatively short.

Good luck!


betina61's picture
Posts: 644
Joined: Aug 2006

Hi! I am glad that you already are half way through, I was lucky to be able to work during the 12 treatments,my only side effect was the tireness after the second day of disconection,but my co-workers were always there for me, and my boss told me to take all the time off that I needed, so I think that helped me a lot not having any pressure,now I have been out of chemo for 4 months,but inmediately after I finished the neuropathy in hands and feet started, and have not gone away,I did not experienced that during treatment,my onc. told me it could last up to a year,and is not easy, but anyway I am happy because I am NED.

lfondots63's picture
Posts: 822
Joined: Jan 2006

Hi Char!

First... CONGRATS on being half way done. Like someone else said it is a big milestone. You should now be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I worked through my treatments. I work in the IT dept so I could work from home. I would go in Wednesday to get my infusion and go home with the pump. I would then go in Thursday for some more infusion and go back home until they unhooked my on Friday afternoon. I would dialup in the afternoon and work some. I tried to take naps whenever I felt like it. I was very tired and sluggish right after my pump came off for a few days. Usually by Monday I felt less nauceous and would go back to work. I kept Immodium stashed with me anywhere I went just in case also. I found that little meals of easy to digest food helped me too. It was hard but I think it helped take my mind off of everything. I also had great friends at work that I could talk to which also helped my mood. My kids were the best and helped me through it with lots of hugs and kisses both ways. Big HUGS to you. Nobody can know what it is like unless they have gone through this. You are almost done.

Oh, for the mouth sores, try a mouthwash called Biotene. It doesn't have anything to irritate your mouth and sooths the mouth sores. I know that going out in the sunshine helped me with the yucky feeling/fatigue from chemo. Also walking around helped others.

Lisa F.

Limey's picture
Posts: 447
Joined: Mar 2004

I worked all three times I had chemo but went home when I was tired. The fatigue was big for me so I just listen to my body and worked when I could. I assume you are doing the folfox with avastin. I had troubles with being cold from the inside out and could never get warm. what helped me was a fleese (sp) bag filled with white rice. I would heat it in the micro and either put my feet on it or use it to rest my hands on when I typed on the computer. The relief was really great and it eased the day. I am not kiddig people, try it. The other thing that has helped me with this last round of chemo is I have been religous about taking a GOOD QUALITY antioxitant.
thougths and prayers for you.

alta29's picture
Posts: 435
Joined: Mar 2005

am' I the only one that dind't work ????
I decided to take advantage of my short and long term disability...I did feel verryyyy tired. My job was kind of stressful and I wanted to save as much energy as I could. Between the vomiting and the diareah...i don't think I would have been of to much help anyways...I guess every case is different. For some is better to stay busy working if health permited...We just have to do whatever feels better for ourself...

Posts: 719
Joined: Feb 2005

No, your not the only one who didn't work...
I was not allowed to work. My doctor flat-out refused to let me. But my job was "in your face" dealing with the public and thre was no way I could have: a) driven myself there, and b) maintained a work schedule of more than about four days per month. My job was waiting for me, though, and my bosses called and emailed regurlarly to give support. I tried to continue graduate school to stay engaged, but had to stop my classes and resume school the following year. Have to admit, though, that I was clueless in the disability dept. I used short-term; and not working for a year devastated my savings, but I don't look back with any regrets.
Everyone is different, Char, but the fatigue does increase. Unfortunately, other side effects can as well. Chemo hit me hard, but others have sailed through it...
You might want to ask your doc about EMEND for nausea. It was a lifesaver for me. Nothing else worked and it really helped.
You might also see if your boss or bosses might be up for lightening your load temporarily...? Only you will know the best tactics.
Hang in there and know that you have accomplished SO much so far!
Take care and all the best to you - Maura

sladich's picture
Posts: 430
Joined: May 2007


I didn't work. My doctor told me "no work". I was off for the surgery and then 6 months of the FOLFOX so I was off a total of 9 months. I went back full-time for 4 months and then had a recurrence so I was off again. I worked part-time for a little over a year and just started full-time in mid-April. My hats off to everyone who worked. I couldn't have done it. With the sensitivity to cold and diarrhea - no way.

Posts: 1048
Joined: Jan 2007

My husband is on the oral xeloda with the one day iv treatment every 3 weeks. Just finished 4th treatment. Number 5 is next week. He went back to work full time about a month ago. So far so good. I know it sounds weird, but he actually has more energy than I do. I guess it's different for everyone and it seems that those who have been on the oral treament suffer fewer side effects than those on the 2 day /pump treatment. I hope it improves for you so you can prove your nurse wrong again. There is a lot of mental fatigue that goes along with worrying too. Keep that in mind. Good luck and God Bless

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