CSN Login
Members Online: 0

You are here

To return to work or not return that is the question?

Feelingalone74
Posts: 187
Joined: Jun 2019

Hi ladies oh, I probably know the answer to this question but throwing it out there anyways. One doctor is saying I can work intermittently when I'm feeling good and other says she highly advises against it. I need to make a decision soon as I work as a teaching assistant and in two weeks my school year begins and my bosses want an answer weeks ago and I need to set up a meeting with them next week.I'm worried about not working because I may run out of sick days and not sure how many my union will give me as I have contributed to the sick bank. I cant risk loosingy health insurance. Sitting home all day long since June is getting exhausting while everyone else is working there's not much to do even on my good days. I run the the errands and do  housekeeping and keep up with my walks but  it is very wearing on the mind and hard because everyone else is working so not many to talk to.So emotionally and mentally I feel like I need to work but I know that puts me at risk being immune system will be down. 4 more months of being out of work will be really hard! One doctor suggested gloves and a mask but that's not practical.  The kids would be scared bu that.Ugh! I wish they had boosters to give u to keep your immune system up. 

I appreciate your thoughts!

Armywife
Posts: 279
Joined: Feb 2018

I didn't work during treatment, but I know many who did.  Interestingly, my surgeon said I absolutely could, and her nurse case manager was standing behind her shaking her head.  I think my surgeon was an optimist.  Is there an option to work part time?  I could have done it during the last week and a half of the cycle, but it would have been really hard during the first week and a half.  Also, your nadir for immunities is usually Day 10, and then you start building back up.  But do remember that after 3 or 4 cycles, you don't build all the way back - that takes a while after the last cycle.  It's really tricky with children.  I'd probably wear a mask, and carry hand sanitizer and use it constantly.  

Feelingalone74
Posts: 187
Joined: Jun 2019

Hi Armywife,  thanks for your response. I agree working with children I'd tricky. Their so sweet but also germ breeders. It was suggested I wear a mask but I know I wouldn't feel comfortable doing so. But definitely I could use hand sanitizer myself frequently and good hand washing.  We're not aloud to let our students use it . But definitely could encourage good hand washing habits for my students more than we usually do. 

I am definitely worried about my immune system being weak and picking up all the germs and becoming very sick staying home is making me emotionally sick. 

I think too the first week after treatment will be hard as that's when I was really exhausted from the treatment with little other side effects and then weeks 2 or 3 I felt great.  Hoping the same for my 2nd treatment which was yesterday. 

I need to set up a meeting asap to figure out if my principal and superintendent will be flexible with my work schedule.  I'm also waiting for the oncologist surgeon who preformed my hysterectomy and came up with my treatment plan to be carried out at a local center,  to call me back and give his opinion .

Michelle 

janaes
Posts: 752
Joined: May 2016

Hey feelingalone, i remember asking the same question. I wanted to work and tried for a few days. I was up on my feet alot and lifting and moving alot. So i ended up taking three months off. That was me. It was a hard choice and i know you will do the right thing for you.

Good luck

Janae

Feelingalone74
Posts: 187
Joined: Jun 2019

Hi Janae,  

It definitely is a hard decision to make. I know what my heart is telling me is different than what's logical and I certainly don't want to risk being sick 

It's hard being home all day alone and I love my job. I'm worried about running out of my sick time so I was hoping to work on the weeks I feel well but know that though I might feel well my immune system might not be strong enough. UGH!

Michelle 

 

janaes
Posts: 752
Joined: May 2016

My job was physically hard work. Even for a non sick person its alot. I didnt have any sick time and was fortionate that my dad could help me out finiacially during that time. I also had a secondary insurance that paid me a small lump sum of money to help.if i wouldnt have had that help i dony know what i would bave done. My work worked with me to take three months off and still keep my job. 

I think i might have had a better chance of working if it wasnt so physically hard. I did theransition back to work and am now working more than i was at first. I went from 4 hours to 6.  Im the summer i work 8 hours. So although it is new normal. I can do all the same things i could do before cancer

Feelingalone74
Posts: 187
Joined: Jun 2019

Armywife and Janae and all the other lovely ladies on here

I hope you all have been able to return to work or to those that are retired  are all feeling well! :-)

Michelle 

Donna Faye's picture
Donna Faye
Posts: 232
Joined: Jan 2017

In October 1997 I had stage 3 BC and had surgery then began chemo and took it for 5 mos. I missed one week of teaching high school English while the drain was in from surgery. I then had 6 weeks of radiation.  Never missed a day at school. Believe me I never had such good classes. The students were fantastic. I was bald all year and everyone brought me hats to wear - each hoping theirs would be the BEST. I was 57 years old but healthy except for the cancer. I have always been high energy and saw no need to not teach if I could.  So, I would say go to work.

However, if you catch things easily or feel weak, you must follow your mind. I am 79 now and after 2 years of USPC treatment am working as a companion 2 days a week and serving as a shopper for the local food at school drive. I have a dog which I walk 4 times a day and I also go to water aerobics.  I will begin to tutor 3 afternoons a week when school starts. I tutor a chronically ill young woman. I have tutored her since 5th grade and she will be a HS senior this year. She has been ill all of her life and has had more ports that 10 of us and over 5 major surgeries. She makes my cancer look like a walk in the park. This is why work is good for me.

Do what is best for you and makes your life good.

Feelingalone74
Posts: 187
Joined: Jun 2019

Donna Faye that is so wonderful that you were able to continue your passion and teach throughout your treatments!  I really hope I can do the same I am very nervous that I'll get to I will get sick but like I said staying home is getting so wearing on me!  I will have to pay close attention to what my mind and body telling me. It's definitely a really risky choice to make.

How cute they had a little competition of who gave you the best hat! 

Your certainly keep yourself busy....what a great thing!

I have too was a very healthy energetic person. I walked 3 miles everyday and even through my 2nd treatment still out power walking at normal speed inspite of being very tired!

Thanks for your help in making this decision!

Wishing u and the young lady your tutoring well!

Warmly, Michelle 

 

EZLiving66's picture
EZLiving66
Posts: 1337
Joined: Oct 2015

I worked but it was for our own business so I could do the bookwork from home when I felt good. There was no way I could have gone into work every day and worked full time. I never did go back to work full time after that either. The stroke after my third chemo took care of that! Luckily for me our two youngest children both graduated from college with business or finance degrees and came to work for us. Our daughter took over for me in the office and her brother helped her in addition to working with my husband. That's when we decided it was time to retire!

Hope this all works out for you.

Love,

Eldri

Feelingalone74
Posts: 187
Joined: Jun 2019

Eldri, you were so fortunate to own your own business and how wonderful it have had your children take over for you!

Sorry to hear u had a stroke! Hope u are feeling better now!

Warmly,  Michelle 

Feelingalone74
Posts: 187
Joined: Jun 2019

Eldri, you were so fortunate to own your own business and how wonderful it have had your children take over for you!

Sorry to hear u had a stroke! Hope u are feeling better now!

Warmly,  Michelle 

barnyardgal
Posts: 208
Joined: Oct 2017

I did work. I worked in a library so had to be careful if people came in sick. I put my mask on a little chain around my neck and only put it on if absolutely necessary. The kids in the library were fine with it. You may find that once the word gets out the kids would be very supportive. I'm glad I worked during chemo though I did have to take off a couple of days. I typically had chemo on a Wednesday and took off Thursday and Friday and went back the next week. The issue was that by chemo#6 I started getting randomly sick and just couldn't work. It was no problem working during radiation as I didn't get tired for some reason. Almost everyone who came into the library was so supportive and encouraging and it really helped me get thru that time. I did quit about 6 months after treatment finished. I had to go back to work evenings and unfortunately, I would get nauseous many evenings, so I just couldn't do it anymore. Also, my daughter was pregnant with my 3rd grandchild and I was ready to just enjoy. I miss working there sometimes, but I enjoy having time for other things as well. Fortunately, I don't get nauseous anymore in the evening unless I'm really tired.  I'm in my 50's but we joke that I took early retirement.

Veronica

Feelingalone74
Posts: 187
Joined: Jun 2019

Veronica, thanks for sharing your experience about wearing a mask and working.  I just don't know if I can do it although I know it would be in my best interest. 

I keep thinking how hard it's going to be going in with a wig that adding a mask too might be overwhelming for them and me.

I'm glad u don't get nauseous anymore!

What a blessing to be beable to spend more time with your grandchildren and do the things u enjoy!

Warmly,Michelle 

 

lovemyhubby
Posts: 26
Joined: Jan 2018

So many of us struggle with this dilemma. I too worked in a preschool for children with disabilities. My doctor initially told me that I could work 1/3 time. But that is so disruptive to them and their classroom schedule. Unfortunately my blood counts were so low that I was unable to work during chemo. Went back full time during radiation. I love to work and love my job so could not wait to get back. Something to consider. If I got sick I was putting myself at risk. But also I could possibly pass germs on to my medically fragile students and place them at risk. Everyone’s situation is so different. Just make the decision that is best for you and your students. Best of luck to you.

Feelingalone74
Posts: 187
Joined: Jun 2019

Lovemyhubby, I've been thinking about it being disruptive to my students as well. The students I work with need consistency so I know that it's not the best idea for me to be in and out of work on any given day. I also dont want to share my germs with them as well. 

I love working and love my job too so I was so hoping to be able to work through treatment.  I am worried though the my blood count will go to low and will be risky for me to work and have no choice to stop working. 

Warmly, Michelle 

jan9wils's picture
jan9wils
Posts: 56
Joined: Mar 2017

I was teaching First Grade when I had my radiation and later, my first round of 6 cycles of chemotherapy. I was fine throughout the radiation, although tired. Working while having chemotherapy was a bit more problematic. I had plenty of days stored up and a certified teacher who was my substitute teacher. She was fantastic. I gave her my chemo schedule and she blocked those days for me in advance. I had my treatments on Thursdays and returned to work on Mondays every three weeks. It was very difficult for me. Young children don't have a choice if their parents send them to school sick, as was the case on more than one occasion. With my immune system compromised I quickly became sick too. Then I got behind schedule for my next cycle as my blood counts tried to recover, in spite of neulasta. I was worried about paying my bills and I was worried about getting health insurance. I found out I qualified for early retirement and made the decision to retire at the end of the school year in June 2017. I became a substitute teacher to help supplement my income and because I just missed being in the classroom helping children learn. I guess if your oncologist says it is fine for you to work then try it. If you become too ill to continue then you can change your decision.

One thing I did to try to reduce spread of germs was to sit side by side with students when working in a small group or one-on-one with them, rather than sit face to face. That way sneezes and coughs that don't get covered up aren't going right into your face. And wash hands frequently along with using hand sanitizer. 

Feelingalone74
Posts: 187
Joined: Jun 2019

Jan9wils, you're blessed to have found a wonderful certified teacher to take your place when needed.  I need to find a substitute asap whether  I go back to cover my days I do need to take off or if I decide not to go back at all. I need to meet with my principal like yesterday. 

The oncologist where I'm being treated advised against working and my original oncologist who diagnosed me said yes to work as long as I felt good.  Makes for a hard decision. 

Good idea about sitting side by side vs. Face to face. Besides becoming I'll or getting my students sick I'm worried about running out of sick days and jeopardize loosing my health insurance. I keep asking for an estimate day of my treatment to be finished but just when I think I have it figured out they change my treatment plan. Ugh!

Warmly, Michelle 

Donna Faye's picture
Donna Faye
Posts: 232
Joined: Jan 2017

I went back to see what age you work with but did not see, yet wanted to add. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to teach the students about being ill and looking different. Granted I worked with HS, but I had a 4 year old grandson as well. I never let my bald head or not feeling well be a secret.  I had a my space limit and explained that I needed that to stay germ free. I think my students used several gallons of hand sanitizer and they never invaded my space. I had a q&a time when I returned to class after surgery and told them what I had, what treatment I was having, etc. One student came to me and said her mother had cancer and that what I had shared in class helped her to understand what her mom was facing. Masks can be fun and creative points for stories. Maybe there are other sick children in the school that would be helped by your lead. 

Of course, you need to talk to your teacher and principal and have their support. Thankfully my faculty was fantastic. The custodian cleaned my room better because I shared with him my story. I always found clorox wipes on my desk. All in all, it was a sweet experience.

Not trying to push you, but do not be afraid of upsetting the children if you are open with them. They are the most honest and loving people. I still hear from students now and then and it always makes my heart sing. Wishing you the right decision for you and your students! xoxo

PS My faculty all donated 2 sick days to me. I never had to use mine or theirs but bet yours would do the same.

Feelingalone74
Posts: 187
Joined: Jun 2019

HI DonnaFaye, that is so wonderful to hear that u had a such an understanding experience with your students . You were obviously a special teacher. 

I work in 3rd grade so I'm afraid the mask may scare them or be scared that something is really wrong with me. Maybe I'm being to self conscious and worried what my coworkers will think although we generally are a close nit faculty. 

I made the hard decision yesterday to not return until after my treatment is done. It was boredom and my compassion to help my students learn vs compromising my immune system.  My health won. I will miss working, my coworkers and most of all my students! 

Thankfully I have many stores sick days and should they run ok I can get days from our sick bank that I contributed to.

It's going to be a l ong 5 months!

janaes
Posts: 752
Joined: May 2016

Feelingalone,

Im glad you were able to make your desision about work. I remember it was such a relief when i made the decision. It was such a burden lifted of my shoulders. 

Feelingalone74
Posts: 187
Joined: Jun 2019

Thanks Janae!

It's not an easy decision to make for sure. I hope now the burden is lifted and I can be more at ease as u mentioned.  Thankfully I was reassured by my union rep that I wouldn't loose my pay or insurance being if I go over my sick days I have stored I can get days from our sick bank. That's a huge relief!

Now to figure out some hobbies at home so I'm not so bored! :-)

 

MAbound
Posts: 854
Joined: Jun 2016

I picked up doing geneology as a hobby when I needed to find out family medical histories for my geneticist. My mom had started researching our family geneology in the 70's and 80's and she would have loved how much easier computers make research these days. There's a lot you can do online from home without having to travel to small town historical societies, cemeteries, or county courthouses in search of records. I have found it an addictive hobby and am working on a book to leave for my grandchildren because I have found a lot of unexpected and fascinating ancestors. If genetic testing is in your future, I highly recommend putting together something about your relations going back to at least as far as your grandparents generation to find out medical histories for that and then see if you want to keep digging deeper. It can be a lot of fun connecting with relatives you may have lost touch with!

Feelingalone74
Posts: 187
Joined: Jun 2019

Mabound,  what a great hobby you have found. Learning about my ancestors certainly would be fun.  

I do hope to find some hobbies to keep myself occupied. This is a great suggestion

janaes
Posts: 752
Joined: May 2016

Yea i was so glad my work worked with me for my time off.   When it works out you might as well do what works. 

Feelingalone74
Posts: 187
Joined: Jun 2019

You're right Janaes . I feel blessed that I have the days and can get more from the sick bank if needed. 

Hoping these next 4 months go by faster than I anticipate though!

 

Fayard's picture
Fayard
Posts: 433
Joined: May 2011

Hola,

I hope you are feeling better already. I am also a teacher and did not work while in treatment, 6 months. I decided not to work, because kids are always filled with germs and get sick often. Just keep in mind that your inmune system will become fragile during treatment. In which state are you? I am in CA. I applied for catasthrphic leave 2 times in a row, the maximun. This allowed to get paid full salary during 2 full months of work. However, you do have to start the school year and work certain number of days, so your benefits are not compromised. I also was able to use sick/emergency/personal leave days, so out of the 6 months I was paid half salary only for half month. I was very fortunate to be able to stay home during treatment, because none of the treatments was delayed. My inmune system was always strong enough to continue.

I would like to add that I also felt very bored at home during treatment. However, I had plenty of time to educate myself about cancer, make changes in my life style and enjoy plenty of rest. I also visited my students every now and then (Middle Schoolers), and they loved to see me getting better. I also loved seeing them doing well and learning! If you are also in CA, please let me know if you need further information.

God bless you all!

Feelingalone74
Posts: 187
Joined: Jun 2019

Fayard

So far after 2 treatments I'm feeling well . I think the insomnia I have had for months is worse than the side effects I've experienced  .I'm hoping by not working my immune  system will stay strong enough too so that my treatment isn't delayed as well. And I can get it over with and return to work and my students I love feeling healthy. Between my personal sick days or and the days I can get from our sick bank that I contributed to I should be ok and enough days not loose pay or health coverage

Fingers crossed.

 

zsazsa1
Posts: 314
Joined: Oct 2018

I think you made the right choice.  I work with sick children, and I knew there was no way that I could protect myself from catching viruses from them.  So I stopped.  When you are neutropenic from chemo, you can get very, very sick if you catch something communicable. 

Feelingalone74
Posts: 187
Joined: Jun 2019

zsazsa1, I agree with you. Like you I know there's no way I can really protect myself from all the viruses and germs that my sweets students bring to school with them.

My district begins school this week so it's going to be a hard week for me as I long to be  at my 2nd home that I love and enjoy being at.

Praying these months go by quicker than I anticipate the will! 

THe days can be long when I have to limit my access to the sun so being indoors the majority of the day makes for a long day. I try to keep busy though. so far im able to keep up with my house and early a.m. or late p.m. walkls so that makes me happy!

Subscribe to Comments for "To return to work or not return that is the question?"