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working while getting chemo.

mommyof2kds's picture
Posts: 522
Joined: Mar 2009

I was wondering if anyone is getting chemo and still working. How do you deal with the fatigue while working? Thanks for any info.

Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi there

I've been off chemo for about 8 months but may have to start back up again.

When I was doing chemo, I had to stay on the job while getting the treatments.

What I would do was schedule Infusion on Fridays. That way Saturday and Sunday would not cost me any time and I could go ahead and be sick.

I would usually miss both Monday and Tuesday each time I did it. I had made my boss aware and educated him on Cancer, so he would have the understanding of what I needed. He worked with me through it and that was a big help.

I would take my lunch and go lay down in my truck for an hour just to get me through the 2nd half of the day. Sometimes, I would close the door to my office and take 15-30 minutes when I needed it. When I got home, I went to bed and rested. Took it one day at a time and went with what my body needed.


mommyof2kds's picture
Posts: 522
Joined: Mar 2009

I haven't worked since feb, thinking about going back. I am a nurse, I just don't know if I can take care of other patients and not feel well myself.

PamPam2's picture
Posts: 376
Joined: Jan 2009

If there is anyway possible take the time off till you feel up to par. I know financially it is a real burden to not work. But you know if the chemo is causing you too much fatigue and how you feel. If you have the responsibility of other peoples health and lives to worry about and you are not where you should be, that could be not too good a situation. If you are able to give your body the rest it requires during chemo, you will get through it much better. Best wishes for you and positive hopes with the rest of your treatment.

Buzzard's picture
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

I was one of the lucky ones in the fact that I have been there for 25 years and I was able to work when I felt like it to keep my payday and insurance up to snuff. I worked one week and then took off chemo week. I also have employees that donated leave to me to keep my household running while I was off for 7 months.....I love all them people......God Bless em everyone.....

Posts: 21
Joined: Apr 2007

Hello Craig

I started First-Line Chemo (Stage 4/w MET to Liver) in 2006 and finished in Apr 2007. I never missed one day of work. After each session I would return to work...only medical limitation was driving an automobile during Chemo days. Everybody is different and Chemo affects are different. As stated - take one day at a time...listen to your body and don't forget to pray.


kimby's picture
Posts: 804
Joined: Oct 2007

I worked for the first 18 mos of treatment except for surgeries. I scheduled infusions for the end of the week so I was tired/sick on the weekend. I had a pretty flexible schedule so I was able to work on infusion days which worked because I felt good on those days.

Good Luck,


Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

I'm similar. I have continued to work while on chemo but I have quite a lot of flexibility in my job and can even work from home some of the time. Also I have supportive boss/colleagues. It has been my choice to continue working -- when I am feeling good (or even so-so!), it helps my spirits to have work. I often have a nap (come home at lunchtime or nap in my office) - or a nap as soon as I get home - before supper.

Good luck


ADKer's picture
Posts: 150
Joined: Aug 2008

Due to disability insurance, working has not been a financial requirement for me, for which I am extremely grateful. I believe that the question is which will be less stressful - working or not. If you are financially able to not work, you will still need to find something constructiive to keep your mind occupied but which will allow you the flexibility to do all that you can to help in your recovery. Work places demands and limitations on your time, so I advocate for not working if at all possible. The determinative question though is whether not working would cause more stress - financial or maybe otherwise - and prevent you from focusing on the most important thing, your recovery.

lmliess's picture
Posts: 331
Joined: Dec 2008

...after 10 weeks of my liver resection and 2 rounds of chemo. I have 5 more rounds every other Tuesday. My work is very understanding and supportive. If I get tired and I don't feel well I go home.

To be honest, I think I am doing better mentally working! Going back to work gave me a sense of normalness (is tha a word??) to my life. I noticed my last few weeks at home I was focusing too much on the cancer and not life. Going to work made me feel like "I'll be damned if this cancer is going to slow me down!" Now, there are days I do HAVE to slow down, but getting up and getting ready and using my mind for something other than cancer made me feel a whole lot better about myself and what I can do.

Also, I have noticed when I don't feel good, just focusing on something else and pushing myself a little helped me work hrough it.

You need to decide what works best for you - but for me getting on with my life rather than laying around (NOT that is what people just do during chemo BUT what I found myself doing) did a world of difference in how I feel.

I planned on going back for only 4 hours a day but have been putting in 6- 8 making a 30 - 35 hour work week. Not because I had to but I wanted to.

Hope this helps. This is a tough desicion. One I struggled with myself for many weeks before going back. Now I am glad I did.

VickiCO's picture
Posts: 934
Joined: Oct 2008

I own the company and work from home. When I was on chemo, I just worked when I could and stopped when I needed to. Also, I have great people working with me (they also work from home) and they kept us going. I learned to DELEGATE...a hard lesson for me, the control freak. I honestly don't think I could have worked if I were in a traditional office setting. The fatigue is overwhelming at times.

Do what you have to, but take care of yourself first.

Many hugs, Vicki

Julie 44
Posts: 479
Joined: Oct 2008

I had went on intermittion medical leave so that allowed me to to go to work when I felt able to and get to stay home when I couldn't..It also protected my job and I couldn't get fired for taking off time...Check into this its a good option...Good luck.....................JULIE

mommyof2kds's picture
Posts: 522
Joined: Mar 2009

I feel like an emotional mess at the moment. Why can't I feel happy. I am thinking about work to feel somewhat normal. I only get 30% pay from disability since I have only been there a couple of yrs, so yes it is a finincial burden not working, but I can't work like this. I am changing antianxiety meds right now, I just feel like I will never know normal again.

Posts: 118
Joined: Mar 2009

I also felt very emotional and lousy when I first started chemo, but I decided to continue working, I'm a hairdresser so it was easy for me to cut back on my hours, which I did. Instead of starting early I went in later in the day and only worked 4 hrs. There were days that I really had to push myself to go to work, but once I did I felt better. On days that I couldn't work, I stayed home. I never made a secret of the fact that I had cc, so all my clients were very understanding.I just didn't want to spend my days thinking about cancer, or feeling sorry for myself. It wasn't even about the money because I ended up taking a taxi back and forth to work. I was just too afraid to take the subway in case I got sick I didn't want to be underground! Mostly going to work was good for my head.

You will feel normal again, it might not necessarily be normal like before cancer, but it does get better. It's almost a year that I've been NED and even with all the side effects that I still have, I do feel like myself again. You have to just keep thinking that this is a temporary thing, and look forward to the time when you're finished with chemo. You can do it,in the meantime take it easy when you feel like you have to, and maybe you can do just a couple of hours a day. Good luck

kimby's picture
Posts: 804
Joined: Oct 2007

From your original post you sounded like you were ready to go back to work. If you aren't, DON'T!

I do understand the financial end of it. My income cut in half the first year (I was an independent contractor) and now I'm on SSDI. I made more than my husband so we've lost about 60% of our income. I've been in treatment longer than most and in 2 yrs I've had 5 surgeries, 5 weeks of radiation so far, and continuous chemo except for surgical breaks.

With my current schedule and energy level, working a traditional job is not a possiblity. I was a workaholic. I LOVE working and I miss it. I've found other things (like here) and will be starting a new career that works better with my new life.

Normal will return but it will most certainly not be the normal you had before. You have changed. Your life has forever changed. For me, it has become more joyful and meaningful. You will get there. Give yourself time. Be kind to yourself.



PGLGreg's picture
Posts: 741
Joined: Jul 2006

I only had 10 injections of 5fu+leucovorin and wasn't much affected by them, so working was no real problem. I did have some nausea, but luckily that was over a weekend.

lizzydavis's picture
Posts: 893
Joined: May 2009

My hat is off to those of you who can work. I have had 2 Folfox treatments and while I can clean and do some typing, I mostly feel queasy and fatigued. I take Ativan very little since it makes me sleepy and constipated. How anyone could bring energy to the job feeling like I do is amazing. I have been finding projects at home to volunteer with by typing letters, etc.

pamysue's picture
Posts: 105
Joined: May 2008

I was lucky and could work from home when I felt up to it and lay in bed when that was all I could do. If your immune system is comprimised, I can't imagine working as a nurse is a good idea for you. No need to be sicker than you already are. Does your job and short and/or long term disability?

daydreamer110761's picture
Posts: 497
Joined: Dec 2008

the facility manager is also my fiance, he would make me stay home when he knew i wasn't feeling well or send me home early, and cover for me with the big bosses down in texas. We also moved my schedule around and gave my office assistant more hours (which is really buging her now that I am back full time). Nick had originally arranged to give me unpaid FMLA (our company doesn't really have that they aren't big enough to have to) he talked the bosses into it and was going to pay my insurance out of his check.

Honestly, I would have hated staying home all the time - at least there was some bit of normalcy there. Even now tho, about 2 months off of chemo, I still get tired on a full day.

ldot123's picture
Posts: 276
Joined: Apr 2008


I worked through the chemo and would take days off when I was feeling really tired. I have a very understanding company that I work with. Remember to rest when you have to. I was not the sharpest pencil in the box during that time because of chemo brain but I found trying to do something with work helped a great deal in keeping my mind off things.

Cheers, Lance

lesvanb's picture
Posts: 911
Joined: May 2008

I was fortunate that physically I was able to continue working while on chemo although it was 1/2 time by the end of 10 FOLFOX infusions. I also have a desk job and a flexible employer who let me also work from home. I also think being at work helped me emotionally get through it. Right now however, two months post chemo, I would very much prefer to not be working (I have to work for the income and health insurance). I think it may be because the toll of a year of treatments caught up with me-emotionally, physically, spiritually–and I crave the time alone with no obligations. I do enjoy PT and yoga class though. Luckily my supervisor continues to be very supportive and having her be on my team like that is a godsend.

Cancer qualifies you for the Americans with Disabilities Act so your employer may be able to adjust your work requirements so it is not as physical. I also qualified for Family Medical leave which was very helpful in keeping health insurances payments at the regular rate when I was at halftime.


Posts: 305
Joined: Feb 2009

I had my surgery in January, started chemo in February and had to quit work in late March. I could work from home, so the fatigue factor was taken care of by laying down whenever I wanted to. But then the Chemo Brain kicked in and I couldn't remember what I had accomplished and what I still needed to do. I would have a stack of paper work that I used to finish in 30 minutes to an hour, but with my chemo brain, going back to check on everything, it would take me four or five hours to finish. I knew my coworkers were helping as much as they could, but I felt bad at keeping my office behind schedule all the time. So I resigned the last day of May and filed for Social Security Disability. I was approved for disability in five days, without a lawyer. Maybe that can help for you until you feel strong enough to go back to work.
I, also, worked at a hospital and my co-workers would donate hours from their vacation time so I could get paid a full salary. God bless them all!


Posts: 8
Joined: Aug 2009

My chemo treatments were 4 consecutive days every other week. The treatment weeks, I usually took two days off - it was hard to go in hooked up to my 24-hr drips (little bags in a fanny pack that pumped drugs into me). I took those days off mainly because I couldn't shower with them on and did not want to offend with BO smells. For some strange reason, I didn't feel exhausted, just not too energetic. It helped being at work - tried to keep my life as "normal" as possible.

WinneyPooh's picture
Posts: 318
Joined: Jul 2009

Hi, your a mother, a wife and a person, and your sick do what ever makes you feel good now,
This is what i am choosing
on forth treatment and waiting hear about surgery, and also being stage 4, not really knowing how long all this is going to go on, I have found there is no passion for work,.
I ve decided to file disability, and concentrate on getting well and having the strenght to be a wife, mother and a person, not a worker bee. My finances are a mess and frankly thats just par ,when it comes to big bad cancer.

I have decided to improve my art, and to go back to school later, A masters maybe in social work. And go back to work when i am well.

But work, Not worth it. Life is worth it.
Just my feelings,

Also for the fatigue, go to FRS.com this is the best. it will give you energy, i have been using it aswell as my husband who is a kidney dialysis patient and it will perk u=you up with out crashing and it is also good for you.
We like the chews.


PhillieG's picture
Posts: 4912
Joined: May 2005

I have been getting chemo for over 5 years and have worked through it. Sometimes I would feel like hell so I would take 1-2 days off (vacation/sick time/personal time). They are very understanding at work. I have had days when I would spend lunch time in the nurses office and just take a nap. There have been days I've nodded off at my desk. Other days I've spent a good deal of in it the bathroom. It's not always easy. Coffee or tea helps me too

eric38's picture
Posts: 588
Joined: May 2009

I have not worked since March. I`m currently on medical leave and still don`t know exactly how it`s going to work out. I am a massage therapist so it requires me to be on my feet alot and I don`t have the flexibility to call off work when I feel like it. I work for an upscale hotel spa and if I don`t come in somebody is waiting for a massage they won`t get. Also, I am currently taking erbitux and I`m sure that the rash would be completely off putting to everybody but my regular clients who know me. People would not know that it`s not contagious. The Doc is taking me off of erbitux but I have to get into a routine and figure out if and when I can work. Just when I had my pattern down the Doc switched up my treatment so I don`t know how long it will take me to recover each time. My supervisor is being very patient about waiting for me and let me know that they would be happy to have me back when I am ready, so I am fortunate in that respect.


Posts: 1
Joined: Feb 2013

I was forced to return to work or I would lose my job.  I went over my 12 weeks of FMLA by 2 days, so I was terminated.  Yes, it was my fault, I mis-calculated thinking that my vacation days were included.  i was offered another position at the company for significantly less money which I took.   I just gave my 2 weeks notice because the stress is higher than the pay.

Now I sit at my desk after having a chemo treatment.  Feeling ill.  My boss will not let me work from home, which could easily be done and I used to do before I went on sick leave.  Now a co-worker has brought his sick daughter in to work for the past 2 days because she has a fever and cannot go to school!!!!!



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