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Posts: 389
Joined: Mar 2013

School started five weeks ago and I have already missed three days of work. Before I had cancer I hardly ever missed work since starting the Votrient I burned through all of my accumulated time off and now I am starting on this years allotment.  Yesterday I had to come home because for the first time I was completly exhausted, now mind you I have been tired before but no like this.  I came home and slept for a few hours, and then went to bed real early, and of course the diarea started and so I was up all night keeping the toilet seat warm.  I am worried about my job and not being able to finish teaching this year.  My ONC has already said he would sign off on half days, or disability but as we all know Stage IV cancer does not come cheap, nor pay for itself plus I love teaching my special education students.  I believe I am protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act and my district administrators have been supportive, but I keep asking myself and my becoming ineffectual becuase of this disease and the side effects?  

Sorry folks I am just venting today this disease is such a pain.



Footstomper's picture
Posts: 1238
Joined: Dec 2014

I've been teaching for 26 years and love it. I dont know what you teach but I teach History and Philosophy at a US High School, having previously taught history and Classics at a British High School and college. May 2013 I was diagnosed with RCC. Two weeks later I left school for surgery. Over the summer I started IL2 treatment, recovering from that, I missed the first 3 weeks of school. I was back in October and taught for 3 weeks before going in for my second treatment, which is when I caught colitis, pleuracy and pneumonia. Finally I returned to working part time in March 2014. Fortunately there was an experienced teacher available who was fighting unfair dismissal at another school.

I was slowly extending my hours as I got my strength back. Then I started votrient and I became crippled by the side effects like diarrhea. 

I stopped Votrient and returned to work full time in the september 2014. I couldnt do it. I was just too tired. Rarely absent before RCC I was basically working a 3 or 4 day week. I started a new drug and the side effects returned. I had to go part time.

All the time I was open with the entire school system and everyone was very, indeed touchingly supportive. Many of my students sent cards and I am at this moment being prayed for in churches, synagogues and mosques in 3 continents. Not bad going for an athiest, eh?

At this point of course I ran out of sick pay. HR put me in touch with the union who had a fund to pay people in our position with CHRONIC OR CATASTROPHIC ILLNESS. This allwed 2 years pay. Have you looked into this? Oh I'm assured that we are covered by ADA.

When that ran out the Union bent the rules so I still get paid. Only now I'm officially suffering from chronic and catastrophic Pneumonia rather than chronic and catastrophic cancer.

Actually there's another point. Due to the Cancer and the treatment, I effectively no longer have an immue system. So the kids return after their summer vacation and I get sick. Last year I had a very painful balance threatening antibiotic resistant ear infection. This year is was pneumonia which caused me to pass out in my car and get carted off to hospital without consciousnes, blood pressure or oxygen in my lungs: a very close encounter with  the Reaper Man.

I forgot to mention that some people in HR ( the middle managers wh dont know yur name) wanted me fired for breach of contract because I'd taken so much time off. That seemed a little harsh as about 4 moths of that was spent in the ICU.

As I said I love my job but I have decided to retire. The kids arent getting a good education. I have a reputation for being good with difficult students, so naturally I get given lots of difficult students. When I'm not there they have a tendency to eat the substitutes. Students also signed up for my classes for my name and reputation. What they got was a substitute who is a page ahead of them in learning Descartes.

While I was off with pneumonia they got a long term sub who is a military man (Warrant Officer) whose teaching method seems to be parade ground shouting. You'll know how well that works!

I dont really know where I'm going with this. When you read posts on this board you'll see that everybody is different, everyones experience of the disease is different. 

There are people on here who are doing triathlons within a week of surgery. Not me,  tho I am pretty resilient. As always you need to be self aware. I drew a list should I stay or retire. In the stay column was one item "I love my job" in the other column: My students are sufferring. Pay is running out I could lose my pension. I teach in fear of crapping myself in class. etc.

So, I retire. Rest for a couple of weeks. See what happens. Maybe I can pick up a bit of work at the local community college. Maybe I'll try and finish my PHd. "The Revolution that led to the English Civil War, and the growth of the social contract from Pulpit to Parliament" thatnks for asking.

The suns shining in Maryland, where I live. I think I'll pick up my guitar and a beer and play the blues on the back porch.

Posts: 389
Joined: Mar 2013

I love that i am not alone I hope that doesn't sound selfish I just feel vindicated knowing it is not just me and being mental. I have a great sub that feels in for me so I know my students are in good hands however that being said I told our HR person this will probably be my last year I am just to tired all of the time the district has been great though.  They are probably going to offer my job to my wife who is just finishing her license for next year so we can keep the same insurance and doctors that made me feel good when they told me that.  Thanks for sharing, and I am sorry we are both being pulled away from what we love.



Posts: 564
Joined: Nov 2013

We were sent to a sympton specialist for side effects. Also known as a palliative care team.  She worked wirh every symptom until it was resolved.  It was the smartest thing we did.  There is help for pain, nausea, being tired, loss of strength, mobility, appetite, nutrition.  Ask for a referral.


Re being tired.  My husband takes a ritalin tablet in the morning to get him alert and energy.  He takes another one at noon to get through the end of the work day.  If there is something special, like our kids evening wedding, he took another.  It will help you accomplish getting through work.  Worth a try.



Footstomper's picture
Posts: 1238
Joined: Dec 2014

I asked my Doc to prescribe cocaine, but he declined. I should have tried one of the kids at school

todd121's picture
Posts: 1449
Joined: Dec 2012

I really enjoy your posts. :)


Posts: 114
Joined: Apr 2015

Hi. Sorry to hear that you are worried about your job as I understand that stress.  I am in Human Resources so very familiar with people who have these feelings.  If you work for a school district you should have a lot of time off resources avaliable to you as you get used to your meds, etc.  If you work for a private school these resources may be somewhat limited.

Review your time off or leave policy in the associate handbook.  You can also contact your HR department.  If you have any specific questions you can personal message me and I would be more than happy to help you.



foxhd's picture
Posts: 3183
Joined: Oct 2011

was very rewarding But I don't miss working one bit. I have so many things that I want to accomplish that I need the time off. I also have everything that I could ever want so my life expenses are low. Thank god for SSD.

Jan4you's picture
Posts: 1327
Joined: Oct 2013

First of all, I am so sorry for ALL you are enduring=enuff!

I had to take an "intermittent" family leave due to another chronic illness. What that means is you have your doctor sign off on and then your manager must sign it too. It protects you for each year. But you need to renew this yearly. So if you  need to leave early, or miss work, they cannot use those "occurances" against you to fire you. It is a wonderful protection.

Ask your HR department for this form.

Good luck to you. You'll be in my prayers and always in my heart.

Footstomper's picture
Posts: 1238
Joined: Dec 2014

I should add that the best help Ive had through all this has been from the Union lawyer. She knows all the paperwork and loop holes. If you havent already get in touch with yours.

Posts: 50
Joined: Sep 2015

I would love to go back to work but my job is very physically demanding. I don't know if SSD would apply in my case, but its an avenue I am considering. I don't really want to start pulling from my retirement funds ---yet.



Posts: 389
Joined: Mar 2013

Thanks to everyone for the advice and words of wisdom.  I am going to try and hold on for the year then I am going to retire and just sub teach when I feel up to it.  

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