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When to go back to work????

bruins1971's picture
Posts: 227
Joined: Nov 2010

So I was DX in March of 2010 and I have been on short term disability from work since then. My short term runs out in March and then I will transition over to long term but they stated that the company can let me go at that point. Does not mean they will but they have the right too. So now I am freaking out thinking I will loose my job if I don't go back by March 20, 2011 which to be honest is fine cause I plan on going back as soon as possible after my chemo treatments end. I guess my biggest fears are that I return to quickly and I can't handle it. I have no clue how long it will take for my body to return to normal again. My plan is to finish chemo the first week of Jan then see what the scan shows four weeks later. If the scan shows me to be clear and the doctors say see you in three months then I think I should go back to work and try to get my life back to normal. I would then need to stay working for at least 13 weeks in order for my current short term case to close out. Then if the cancer comes back I would go back out on another short term claim that would be good for up to 52 more weeks. Has anyone had to deal with this decision? I really, really want to get back to work asap and hope and pray that the scan will show good results after these last two chemo sessions. What have you guys found with your first scan after your first rounds of treatments?

abrub's picture
Posts: 2178
Joined: Mar 2010

Can't say - I worked through treatments. My scans were all clear prior to starting chemo.

ron50's picture
Posts: 1729
Joined: Nov 2001

I had 48 weekly infusions of 5fu and levamisole, I could not get disability only unemployment and grudgingly at that. I was self employed and all my clients kept ringing me because they could not find anyone else so i went back at six weeks. It was not fun but I made it thru till the end of chemo. Ron.

geotina's picture
Posts: 2123
Joined: Oct 2009

George worked full time throughout treatments. If your treatments are going well, and you are feeling fairly well, why not go back now or the first of the year? Don't risk losing your job, they are too hard to find and many employers just look for a reason to let someone go who is sick.

Many, many people work throughout treatment, even dragging that darn pump to work while they have it on for 48 hours.

Take care - Tina

Kenny H.'s picture
Kenny H.
Posts: 503
Joined: Aug 2010

Im sorta in the same boat. But my Co. only paid out 20 weeks of STD (70% of base pay) Been on LTD (50% of base pay) since Nov.
Also read they can let me go after the 20 week STD period. I have been in contact with boss and he says not to worry about coming back till Im 100% healthy. But Im thinking after a yr that could change, I left last May & wont be thru with my treatments till Apr.
Best thing you can do is keep them updated on your situation regularly.
Also this new American Disabilitys Act includes cancer. (Ive heard)

christinecarl's picture
Posts: 545
Joined: Sep 2009

I was off for 1 month after resection surgery. But worked all through chemo pump and all. I actually only had to call in sick 2 days throughout the 6 months of chemo. I had no disability insurance and had to keep my health insurance. But actually I was glad I felt well enough to keep on with work, I just wanted my life back.

mommyof2kds's picture
Posts: 522
Joined: Mar 2009

I went back to work 2 mths after treatment ended, but just part time for a month or so, I guess it depends on what kind of work you do..Petrina

Posts: 810
Joined: Nov 2009

I was off work Technically 2 weeks for the resection, ( i worked from home for 4 weeks) and then I worked throuout the rest of my treatment, however I scheduled my chemo for thursday, ans saturday removal ans worked from home those days, I couls have gone in the office but the boss preferred I did not .


mommyof2kds's picture
Posts: 522
Joined: Mar 2009

I give you guys credit for working, there was no way I could work as a nurse while gettting treatment..

Posts: 810
Joined: Nov 2009

I have a desk job that can become portable if needed, so in a way I am fortunate.
There is another nurse here on the site that did work while on chemo, she tells the story about the patients hearing the whirrrr of the pump.. I don't know how she did it!!!

pluckey's picture
Posts: 484
Joined: Jul 2009

that's a hard one to answer, as we are all so different. I am absolutley amazed how many of you worked thru treatments.

I was waaay too sick to work when I got DXd- from March 2009 up until about November 2009, I had no capicity to do anything..could barely walk to another room, let alone work.

I finished treatments in June 2010 and I'd say energy came back in September. I just started a job Nov 1st.

My biggest fear was the chemo brain and just not being on top of my game...it's geting there. I have to tell you that I put in long days and just come home and go to be, I am wiped out. My sister is worried that I am not taking care of myself. I need the paycheck, I have to do it. It is good to be back to familiar life..working etc...feeling normal

Good luck,and if you have the wiggle room to slowly get back into work, I'd do that...remember our bodies went thru ALOT


msccolon's picture
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

It's definitely an individual kind of thing. I worked all through treatment, but that was really because I had a very understanding boss. I didn't have STD or LTD available through work, but he basically paid me full time for however many hours I was able to put in, including when I was out of work completely for hospital stays, etc. I've since had to "retire" due to pain issues and just no longer being able to work productively enough. I'm a computer programmer, so it was definitely a desk job, but requires mental abilities.

bruins1971's picture
Posts: 227
Joined: Nov 2010

Wow that is amazing how so many people have been able to work through the chemo. Although it seems like some work because they had no choice. I actually am a technician for AT&T so climbing up pole with a chemo pump probably would not work out to well. I think what I will do is go back right after the scan. Good thing is that I have 4 weeks of vacation from this year that I am still entitled to so I'm gonna see if I can work half days for like the first month to ease my way back into the saddle. I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend.

Bobby in Dallas

johnnybegood's picture
Posts: 1122
Joined: Oct 2008

to everyone who was able to work during all that hell.i really had a hard time with the 10 rounds of chemo.from the time i was unhooked till i had to get it again i had maybe 2 days that i felt ok.i have always worked in factories on my feet 12 hours a day.i guess it really does matter what you do for a living.when i was dx in sept 2008 i thought i can beat this and go back to work "WRONG" the side effects after treatment was over is what got me.i finished chemo july 2009 and my place of work let me go in sept 2009 they have one of those policies too.so here i am living with neuropathy,not working,trying to look for a job,and start my life over.we have to learn a new normal for some of us the old normal will never be...Godbless...Johnnybegood

Daffodil324's picture
Posts: 59
Joined: Mar 2010

I had colon resection surgery (with complications that led to an extra week in the hospital) in August 2009. I went back to work in January 2010 when I was half-way through my 12 rounds of Folfox. I would have liked to stay home longer but I didn't want to use all of my saved-up sick leave at once, thinking I might need it more toward the end of chemo. I'm a high school special education teacher working with teenagers with severe disabilities. When I did go back to work, I took off the days I had the pump on--my students tend to grab, pull, etc., and I didn't feel safe with the pump around them. I scheduled my treatments for pump attachment on Wednesday and removal on Friday, with the weekend to rest and recuperate. Chemo lasted until April and I did make it through the semester.


Lori-S's picture
Posts: 1286
Joined: Sep 2010

Depedning on what type of work you do, can you negotiate that you can go back parttime. Maybe start with just the few days every other week? Then you might be able to judge better if and when to go back fulltime.

Nana b's picture
Nana b
Posts: 3045
Joined: May 2009

Don't be too comfortable with the job being there when you get back. I worked right through chemo, then then went out for a hernia repair, came back and then was fired! Not nice, and it's not good to piss off Raquel. I can be the nicest person you'll ever know, but you mess with me, when you shouldn't... and..oh, oh!

If you are Stage 4 you can probably qualify for SS disability, but I chose not to. I was in a sole HR position and knew I was needed, so I put one foot in front of the other, commuted 50 miles each way and another 15 each way on chemo days. Now I know that it was not worth putting the job upfront, but I had no choice, then I needed the money. My husband was laid off when I got sick.

Working can be good, it kept me busy, and off this board! lol kidding.

coolvdub's picture
Posts: 410
Joined: Aug 2009

I had my surgery and recovery time at home. It was longer than expected since I couldn't walk without a walker after surgery, was off work for 6 weeks. After that I went back to work and worked through chemo. I missed some days when to sick from the chemo but was at work most of the time.


scouty's picture
Posts: 1976
Joined: Apr 2004

Hi Bobby!

I was with AT&T (the original one) for 25 years until I went out on LTD in 2005. The benefits have changed since SWB bought out AT&T and I was management and I think as a pole climber you have the CWA bargained for benefits and those are different too I think.

I can tell you that I had to retire to get LTD after my STD ran out (52 weeks). AT&T did help me apply for Social Security for disability pay and with stage IV rectal cancer I was an automatic qualifier for both plans. The LTD plan does have some options for re-training if you qualify. I would have with the old AT&T plan but did not with the SWB one so be sure to check on EVERYTHING.

I knew another AT&Ter from here (Jerseysue) who lost her battle last year but she went back to work after her short term ran out for a few months and then went out on STD again when chemo would start back up. She did that 3 times to keep her 100% pay since her hubby wasn't working and they had 6 kids! She and I conspired against the plans and she really got her money's worth. I added up to the magic 75 number so LTD was much more appealing to me then it was for her and her 16 years of service.

I kind of fell thru the cracks after the buyout but the company caught up with me earlier this year and "kicked me off" of their disability for being too healthy! Nice problem to have and we have great benefits so I can't complain.

Ask lots of questions about the LTD especially if you can find folks that have taken it recently and don't care about the companies bottom line crap. Everytime I talked to HR or the benefits people I could tell that all they wanted was for me to be off the payroll.

Good luck on your decision and let me know if I can help in any way.

Lisa P.

PS. As far as working or not working while in treatment I say if you don't have to don't and be kind to your body so it can heal. I know a few people that thought staying at home was more stressfull then working so you have to think about your personal situation.

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