CSN Login
Members Online: 0

You are here

working during chemo or radiation?

Posts: 3
Joined: Jan 2012

My girls were removed 3 weeks ago, so I am entering my 4th week of being off work. I see the onc. next Monday. Will I be able to go back to work if I am on chemo or radiation? What did you do - what are you doing? Are you abile to function, and if so, to what degree?

Here is my concern... if I go off of disability it will be harder to get back on if needed. I can do some work on line from home, but if I do I am concerned my customers and work might think I am fully available when I truly might not be. Not sure how to draw the line of my availability.

It is so frustrating to be dealing with this and work about work also. I would love to hear how you dealt with it.


faith_trust_and_a_little_bit_of_chemotherapy's picture
Posts: 319
Joined: Jun 2010

I went stir crazy at home. I was not supposed to drive after surgery for 2 weeks, but I did. I had 6 rounds of TAC every 3 weeks and it kicked my tuchas. I'm a single mom of a teenager, and I arranged to have infusions on Fridays so that I could spend the weekend recuperating. My Neulasta shots were administered on Sunday mornings. Monday mornings I was up and commuting an hour to and an hour from work. I quite literally came home and passed out on my bed. I teach, it was not easy to be 'on' but we managed and fortunately, I was not ill at work. I did keep room temperature ginger ale at my desk...just in case. The first chemotherapy treatment found me gray and not looking well at all, by the final treatment...I was cumulatively exhausted and had one week of work remaining before summer break. I am pleased to say, I was able to carry out all my professional duties with the same level of proficiency and competency as prior to my illness. One thing I was quite adamant about, I saw to it I ate protein everyday even when I was not in the mood. The Wednesday evening before each upcoming round we went out to a nice steak dinner, I just did not want any excuse to postpone a treatment.

All I can say about radiation for me was...it was tedious. It took more time to drive, get undressed, climb on the machine, line me up, get off the machine, get dressed and drive home than it did to zap me....EVERY day for seven SOLID weeks.

Some of my colleagues confided that had it been them they would have just stayed home. I just never considered that option after surgery.

Trust yourself to know yourself, you are loved and in the prayers of many, and please keep us posted.

Megan M's picture
Megan M
Posts: 3001
Joined: Dec 2009

Like the pink sisters said Katy, everyone react differently to their treatment. I don't work, so, this wasn't a concern of mine. I did have rads, but, no chemo. I got really exhausted from rads, so if I did work, I am not sure I could have gone everyday.

Take care of yourself and just take it easy.


Posts: 250
Joined: Nov 2011

I chose to have radiation and had to fly on an airplane at 8:00 Am every day, take a cab to the treatment center, have the five minute treatment, take a cab back to the airport, and fly home again at 3:00 in the afternoon. (this is in Alaska, where we have had terrbile snow and ice and cold weather this winter)
I don't know how I did that every day, but luckily my AFLAC supplemental policy I had covered all the flights and I was in my own home every day by late afternoon. I still have a teenager at home and didn't want to miss out on the senior activities, hockey games, etc.
So for me, I did miss work for 4 weeks just during the radiation. I always felt perfectly fine after the radiation, though . . . so if I was home, or lived closer to treatment, I would have continued working, or at least part time, if that is an option. It helped keep me sane and focused on other things.
-- Sue D.

laughs_a_lot's picture
Posts: 1369
Joined: Mar 2011

However, I had a low demand job. I work 3rd shift in a mental health home. I have a lot of down time. If you need to choose to stay home for a while yet then try to get through chemo on disabilty especially if your job is demanding. None the less many have gone to work durring both. Radiation is much easier. Yes it is showing up daily but you that much anyway for your job. It takes 10-20 minutes most days (getting a gown on then radiated, then getting dressed).

KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

...so I had no choice...I had to work, thru both cancers...

But I know what you say about disability...it's hard the first time, harder still the second time...

Maybe do work from home, but not enough to get dropped. And keep reminding people at work that you are still not completely well...

I didn't take disability, but on days when I wasn't feeling well, I rescheduled appointments. I called and was honest...all my clients (computer consultant) knew what what happening, so it wasn't a problem. I would have gone nuts if I didn't work...it was a bit of 'normal' during a VERY un-normal time!!!

Dutch hugs, Kathi

Ritzy's picture
Posts: 4382
Joined: Aug 2009

I don't work, so, I can't really answer your question. As you can see, many here did work thru rads and even chemo. Mainly get lots and lots of rest and don't over do it at work or at home. Let others help you both places too.

Chemo and rads are both hard in their own way, but, you can do it.

Best of luck,

Sue :)

DebbyB's picture
Posts: 86
Joined: Nov 2011

I worked through it all for the most part. When I was getting Taxol, I did have to take the every other Monday and Tuesday off after having treatment on Friday. I had to work, but it was also nice to have a diversion and my chemo fogged brain did keep expectations from co-workers lower. :)

Posts: 26
Joined: Dec 2011

I work in health care so I couldn't work during chemo due to risk of infection. It's just as well I couldn't have physically continued to work and met responsibilities at work. I was usually wiped out for a week after and have a physical job. I was afraid to apply for disability. I was afraid I would if I got then returned to work I wouldn't get it the 2nd time if I needed it. I'm finally back to work part-time . I feel tired but everyone has gone out of there way to help me. It's been a long 6 months and still have 1 more month of radiation. But I know others who have worked all the way thru. I hope all works out for you. Every time I was truly desperate for money it seems as though something turned up

jnl's picture
Posts: 3873
Joined: May 2009

Everyone is different with chemo, rads, surgery and hormone treatment. I was very tired during my rads, but, I also do not work outside our home. I think I could have, but, I am just glad I didn't even have to try.

Good luck to you,


sea60's picture
Posts: 2618
Joined: May 2010

Hi Katy, just as was mentioned, everyone is different and it sure makes a difference with what line of business you're in.

I worked straight through both Chemo and radiation. I work in an office so I sat most of the day. I felt more comfortable wearing a wig.

For me, I was able to physically endure it AND most importantly, I NEEDED normalcy and going to work provided that. Aside from some wierd moments or pitiful stares most everyone was great!!



Posts: 24
Joined: Aug 2011

I'm working through both, chemo and rads. I went to chemo first, got the heavy duty one every 3 weeks total of 6. My appt. was on thursdays and went fridays for my shot, rested through the weekend and went back to work on monday, so I only took those days off. When I had my mastectomy I took the 6 weeks off, I just recently returned this week to work. I'm going to be working full time until I start my radiation treatment,but at that time I will only be working part time.
As somebody also mentioned I'm also sitting down all day at work so maybe that's why it was easier.

Phoenix chick's picture
Phoenix chick
Posts: 13
Joined: Jan 2012

I'm impressed with this routine.
It hard... but you can do it!. What sort of work do your do? Did you have to make changes in what you did at work, apart form part time hous? How do you manage to commute? How did your work friends help... did they over protect you, or just let you get on with your job? Cheers, Phoenix chick

Megan M's picture
Megan M
Posts: 3001
Joined: Dec 2009

I don't work outside the home and I found that during rads I was so tired that I don't think I could have. I know many, many do, but, I don't think I could have been one of them.

Good luck with rads and get lots of rest,


Gabe N Abby Mom's picture
Gabe N Abby Mom
Posts: 2415
Joined: Sep 2010

After my original dx, I took almost a year off...through 6 rounds of TAC chemo, bilateral, rads 2 times a day, and then some time to recover and get my energy back before returning to work. At the time I was a bank manager for a very demanding impersonal company.

My onc finally said I had to go back to work...I found a job as an assistant manager for a small local credit union. The Friday before I started training, I had a biopsy for a possible local recurrence. On my third day of training I got the call informing the biopsy was positive. Additional testing also confirmed mets to lymph nodes between my lungs.

Long story short...so far I have only missed two days for the surgery to remove the local recurrence. They have allowed me to have fridays off for chemo and other appointments. But I am working on Saturdays in exchange. Oh yeah, I was also promoted to branch manager after 4 months.

So I have done both...working through treatment is definitely harder. And I do feel like I have less time for my family. But I couldn't do it without the support of my coworkers and really the entire company. I do enjoy my job, and am happy to be a contributing member of society again.

As others have said, you have to do what's right for you, your customers, and your company. It's a tough decision because we can't predict the future. I'm sure you will choose wisely, and whatever you choose you will have our support.



Phoenix chick's picture
Phoenix chick
Posts: 13
Joined: Jan 2012

.I had a total mastectomy, lymp clearance, AC, taxol and am continuing with Herceptin. I've had 3 weeks of severe shingles pain and heart failure.
I am a self employed Occupational Therapsit 3 days per week, but have another ' paid job 3 days per week. I'm 50 and am the family bread winner. I have 2 adult daughters, one is a uni student.
I chose to keep my private practice running ... programming my patients on my 'good days' and planning to do nothing on my 'bad' days. My husband or elested daughter used to drive me around in the car to s clients, becasue I could not trust my driving skills.It was really hard. I was constantly really tired. Fortunaly my patients were extremely understanding. I drew strength from them in many ways.. as some of them were also very disabled.
I had about6 months off from my paid job( lucky to have accrued heaps on sick leave). I was not able to do some parts of my job because it was way to physically demanding. Some part of my job were to mentally demanding.
Life was better with r/t...as the hspital was only 45 mins drivefrom where i live. I had treatment late in the day, then went home.
I would not have done a quality job if I tried to do everything.... not fair to customers .
I think the positive social vibes at work are really helpful to get you through the tough times... but if you job requres you to drive alot or work with extreme concentration or exertion... then it is probably inappropriate. It also depend on how much support you have at home. When I came home form work, all I wanted to do was sleep. I was exhausted. it was not until 2 months after I finished radio therapy that I started to feel normal again. Try considering part time work. Talk to you employer. Try out a few options. It is a learning experince.... But try to make your own decision after a cycle has passed. I larnt on every important word..' pacing'.

SIROD's picture
Posts: 2199
Joined: Jun 2010

Katy try it out. You won't know until you do and then you can make adjustments.

I worked throughout every treatment. Whenever I have surgery that required time off, I took the time necessary to heal but, not the all the time I could have used. I have had a lot of surgeries (20 - none reconstruction) as I have had lots of medical issues. Not disrupting my normal lifestyle was my goal.

I have learned over the years to prioritize. I removed all that was not essential in order to reach my objectives. t

I'm in my 3rd recurrence with 3 progressions and continue to work. It isn't easy for I have mobility issues. I love my job. It keeps me going and I've done it more or less for 17 years. Many years I experienced NED between the 2nd and 3rd recurrence. Had other issues other than cancer.

Only a few people know what I deal with on a daily basis at work. I put on a happy face when I get out of my car. They know I have difficulty walking that one is obvious but, for the rest, only a few people know I deal with metastasize cancer in the lungs, lining and ribs.

So try, adjust and make your life as simple as possible during treatments.

Wishing you the best on this journey,


camul's picture
Posts: 2541
Joined: Dec 2010

bout of cancer I worked through chemo. With the recurrence I did not and will not be going back to work. I worked for a phone company and I couldn't do any amount of work. If I was able to do any work then it was assumed I was ok to do my full job, which I could not do.

You may want to be careful and check with your human resources department. I would probably take the time and let your body heal. As hard as it is not to be productive, it would be even harder to lose your benefits.

Hope all continues to go well with you.

Lynn Smith
Posts: 1265
Joined: Mar 2011

My friend worked during chemo.She worked for a dentist so it was hard to take off. She had problems with chemo.Heart racing and a couple other things.She took the chemo on Fridays.That way she had the weekend to rest.

If you don't have any serious problems with the chemo and your employer doesn't mind I would work.Keeps your mind off things from what my friend said. She said if she took off she would be stressed.

Lynn Smith

Posts: 74
Joined: Sep 2010

I had chemo first and worked except for chemo day and a couple of days when I was runnning a temp. Chemo every other week for 16 weeks and Nuelasta shot the next day. I'm in sales and had the luxury of being able to go home and take a nap at lunch if I needed it, so I 'sort of' worked full-time during chemo. Then I had bilateral masectomy and 6 weeks off...then radiation. I did work through radiation, but again went home and took naps if I needed too. I think radiation was just as exhausting as chemo!

Subscribe to Comments for "working during chemo or radiation?"