Tips on working and treatment

SalpalSalpal Member Posts: 43
edited April 2018 in Social Groups
Hi all,
I will be starting Chemo soon which will be followed up with more surgery and then radiation.
I know l will have moments where l will be tired/sick and anything else that goes with it.
I joined this group in the hope of getting tips/advice from anyone that worked through out treatment when possible.


  • Michelle_BCNAMichelle_BCNA Member Posts: 4
    Hi Salpal,

    Thank you very much for your post. 
    Many woman in your position feel exactly the same way. Because everyone reacts differently to treatment you wont know how you will be affected until you start treatment. I've spoken to our breast care nurse and she said very few people are able to continue to work full time. Most will need to take a couple of days off after treatment or reduce their hours. Have you looked to see if you are covered for lost wages by the insurance associated with your Super? I would also recommend you talk to Centrelink to see what you are entitled to. I notice in your profile you have a young child. You may also be entitled to in home care through Centrelink while you have your treatment.
    I would be happy to talk to you on the phone or you may wish to talk to our breast care nurse. The number is 1800 500 258  which is the cost of a regular call, or my direct line is (03) 9805 2535.

    Best wishes,
  • SalpalSalpal Member Posts: 43
    Thank you for those tips. I will do a bit of research. I had no idea about the possible centrelink assistance. 
  • Michelle_BCNAMichelle_BCNA Member Posts: 4
    Centerlink does keep these things quite. That's why we're putting resources together. It's stressful enough dealing with with a breast cancer diagnosis. The last thing you need to worry about is financial pressures and work. Please let me now what challenges you are having and we can point you in the right direction.
  • primekprimek Broken HillMember Posts: 5,076
    I think it all depends on your job as well as well as how you react to chemo.
    I was on ACT-H. The AC wiped me out for 2 weeks each cycle. Felt okay the 3rd week...then it was appointments, tests then start next cycle. Everyone told me the next part would be easier. I found taxol really hard and got increasingly depressed. I thought I was going to be able to return to work but as each week came I just got tireder and tireder. It was a testing time. I then believed 3 weeks after woukd be long enough for me to recover post chemo. It wasn't. 7 weeks after chemo I started back at work at half the hours under a planned return to work plan.  2 months before I was ready to increase. I continued on Herceptin for another 3 months but was stopped early due to heart issues.

    My workplace had a previous bc patient who worked through. Different regime and very few issues. Of course they expected the same of me. In the end I had the Cancer Care Coordinator speak with my manager so she understood post chemo fatigue and how well I was actually doing. That really helped.

    My friend was able to work some of the time. However mentally she still hasn't really moved on or accepted breast cancer and being a SURVIVOR. She did find working a good distraction. Her job is very very different from mine where I work with people and have to be out driving and seeing people. 

    We are all very different. Accepting we might not be in control of how our bodies react is not easy. I was able to draw against my trauma component of my life insurance and take some Long Service Leave to see me through and help with my only part time work for 6 months. 

    I hope some of this info is helpful. Kath x
  • ZoffielZoffiel Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 2,812

    I first had chemo when I was 43. I was on a limited contract at work so didn't have any sick leave available and if I didn't meet the deadlines for the project I was working on I would have lost my job. So I worked.

    I was very fit at that stage of my life and it wasn't until the dread pegfilgrastim came onto the scene that I needed any more than two days off after chemo.

    I was a sole parent and breadwinner so that was also a motivating factor. To be honest, it wasn't that bad. I had AC chemo during the winter and ended up having a great time with wigs and hats. I was tired, but even that was manageable. Things went a bit pear shaped when I had my surgery (pun intended) but by that time I my contract had run out and I was just working as a casual so there wasn't so  much pressure to drag my arse into town every day.

    Ten years later my cancer returned and I was back on the chemo bus. TC this time. I was absolutely shocked at how sick I was. There is no way I could hold down even a part time job and ended up living on my savings for a year. Mentally I am not coping as well and I feel like I am just dragging myself forward very, very slowly

    I had a very poor relationship with my first medical oncologists--I hated their guts. Maybe that rage and the pressure of having someone who was relying on me gave me extra strength. I really don't know.

     I guess my message is no amount of preparation is going to make any difference--there is no way of knowing how you will cope until you are up to your neck in it. Good luck,

    Marg xxx

  • SheranSheran Orange NSWMember Posts: 19
    Hi Marg
    I had radiotherapy & lumpectomy first time round, 10 years later had bilateral mastectomy, pacltaxel & herceptin. I had time off first time round as had to go to Sydney for treatment; this time round I was able to have chemo in our local hospital, lucky enough to go to treatment then onto work afterwards.
    The exhaustion is was gets me now, always tired and can’t get enough sleep! I believe it’s the rotten tablets Femara that are causing it and causing the pain in my ligaments in my fingers and toes.
    You are right each person is different and will react differently. I do think a positive attitude helps a lot too.

    I have moments even now where I feel overwhelmed at times and think to myself did this really happen.
    I try and take one step at a time and live in the moment, deal with each thing one at a time to avoid overwhelming myself even further...

    Most of all I enjoy being alive and enjoy each little moment of my day.

    Everyone has to find their happy place during their cancer journey, what makes them comfortable and help them to relax - reading, gardening, socialising, tv, sleeping whatever it is do it when you need to; make yourself the number one no matter what anyone says; it helps you to get through it.

    take care all xxx
  • SalpalSalpal Member Posts: 43
     Sorry for my slack reply ladies.  Have been crazy, busy. Thank you for your words of advise.
    l am hoping l can have week off of treatment then work the 2 weeks during AC treatment. Taxol for 12 weeks and l've heard mixed reactions to this. More surgery after treatment and 6 weeks of rads, again heard mixed reactions. I guess time will tell but fingers crossed xx
    @Sheran @primek @zoffiel
  • ShazSShazS Member Posts: 131
    Hi All, that was my question how does anyone go to work after chemo treatment ? True fact after chemo I am down for up to 5 to 7 days once was 9 days I could not get off the bed as much as I was over everything kept trying to push myself couldn't. Once I started feekling okay then the bowel problems and the head aches, brain freeze. Keep in mind I was a very active person never sat much wow this has blown me away all I seem to be doing is lying. The nausea , sores , mouth ulcers ect ect. Finacinally we are struggling I try to kid myself I need to be working how and who would employ me . I worry about our home , bills ect and how can one try stay strong and positive amongst the treatment . Unreal Shazx 
  • primekprimek Broken HillMember Posts: 5,076
    @ShazS Try and look at ways you could not work if the chemo is knockibg you around. Once I accepted this it took the pressure off me. If you have a mortgage you coukd discuss reducing payments. School fees etc can be negotiated. Thete are ginds out there to help. Talk to social workers at the hospital or through cancer services to find out what else is available. Kath x
  • ZoffielZoffiel Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 2,812
    Check your mortgage insurance, @shazs . Depending on who you are with there may be a trauma clause in there and breast cancer counts as trauma. Does it ever. QBE has been, reluctantly, paying my mortgage for the last twelve months. It's been one of the few things that, once we had the obligatory squabble, I haven't had to stress about.
  • ShazSShazS Member Posts: 131
    Thank's for replying means a lot to hear from people who are in the same boat and different views and suggestions Shazxx
  • Suzi_S61Suzi_S61 Member Posts: 68
    Hi, I am off to see the oncologist next Wednesday and I was wondering if there is anything relevant I should be asking around my ability to work? . I work part time in an admin job and my employer is very supportive including offering for me to work from home. They mentioned a couple of months return to work program. I think I will be having 6 cycles of chemo so not sure how that will fit in. I also run my own driving school which I have cut back to a few lessons a week but we are coming up to the busy season and wondering if I can work this in with my chemo? or am I too optimistic that I will be able to do that?  I had a mastectomy 3 weeks ago and have been told I will need chemo then radiotherapy for 28 sessions after chemo finishes. 

  • Riki_BCNARiki_BCNA Administrator, Staff, Member, Moderator Posts: 242
    Hello Suzi_S61 it is great to hear you have great support from your employer and wishing you all the best during your chemotherapy. BCNA has developed some resources around work that you might find helpful  Responses to chemo can be quite varied. It sounds like you have some great strategies in place if needed. Take care of you.
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