I am very recently diagnosed with lung cancer (stage 3A so far as I know at this time), which will mean an extended leave from work while I am doing chemo and radiation. I am struggling mightily with anxiety as I try to navigate this new reality. I have a very stressful job and I am doing my best to train the people who will take over while I am away and I am finding it difficult to focus on my work. I have good insurances, including critical illness and STD and LTD (for which I am supremely grateful!) but I am not sure if I should even be working right now. I am trying to get my hours down to 8 a day (I have been working 10-12 hr days forever) but even then it's a real struggle to maintain focus.
What's the norm for when people with this type of diagnosis take off from work? Is there a norm? My plan was to work until I start treatment but I don't know if I am doing myself any favours as I know that stress isn't helpful to my healing and recovery.
Thanks for any inputs!
Hello Lianne! Another Lianne who spells it the right way lol
I had breast cancer, not lung but I will tell you that similarly, I had a very stressful job ( I worked in software at the time ) also, was a manager and had lots of responsibility. I went back to work for a couple days after being diagnosed and found I too could not focus or concentrate at all. I was in tears all the time. I started taking Ativan just to get my brain to shut down at night. I decided right then and there I was going to take the time I needed to focus on me and my health/well being. I am so glad I did. Like you I had a great STD/LTD plan which I understand not everyone does. I did not return to work until 3 weeks after radiation completed - a total of almost 10 months. And to tell you the truth, I went back too soon. While I was physically finished treatment, mentally I was still struggling a lot!
There are many here that have worked through it either by choice or necessity. So ultimately the decision is yours but I have no regrets about taking the full time off.
I am sure you will hear from many others but thought I would share my experience.
Let us know how you decide to proceed. Wishing you well with your treatments. Do you have a treatment plan yet?
Yes, I also spell my name correctly so hello fellow Lianne!
I have my EBUS procedure tomorrow morning to confirm everything and then the “diagnosis” appointment on September 9th (moved up a week due to a cancellation) so no treatment plan yet. I am going on what the Thoracic surgeon said to me after reading my PET scan regarding the stage 3A diagnosis. My research (on here, not just random sites) indicates chemoradiation for treatment, but I know that is all dependent on tomorrow's results. The waiting for details and a true diagnosis and then treatment plan is what has me so anxious. I am a doer, not a waiter.
I think I will have a chat with my doctors regarding stopping work now. I am not sure I am really doing them any favours by staying.
Thanks for your insight, it's confirmed what I feel in my heart that I need to do so I will talk to the doctors and get this party started.
I want to wish you well with your appointment tomorrow and for the 9th as well. The waiting is absolutely the worst! Distraction is your friend but so much easier said than done. Once you have a treatment plan, that anxiety may come down a bit, that was certainly the case for me anyway.
Keep us posted as you are comfortable.
I am sorry that you find yourself walking this journey.
I'm on the other side of another journey (in remission from what was Stage 3 Ovarian cancer) and back at work.
You said it - “I know that stress isn't helpful to my healing and recovery”.
If ever you need to put yourself first, ahead of loyalty to work or any other commitment…this is it. It sounds like you can do it financially. Perhaps, if you are willing and able and it makes you feel better, you can offer to be available to your management on a phone call/email/Zoom to give information as needed to the people covering for your absence….ONLY if you can do it while setting the boundaries that you need.
This would be a good time to learn some stress-reduction techniques, such a meditation, if you don't do it. I tried to do yoga and 30 minute walks as well. I'm a firm believer in the mind-body connection to heal.
Also - if you haven't made the connection yet, it is a great idea to connect with a social worker at the cancer centre…if you aren't offered one, ask for one. Mine made a world of difference in my life during my treatment and recovery.
Keep reaching out.
If you feel any doubt about the stressors and need to leave work now that is ok! Do it! I had a stage 3 rectal tumour and worked through my 25 days of chemorad and then worked another couple months through healing till just before my surgery. I have great insurance too and looking back maybe I should have left earlier….there was the distraction for sure but just remember you need to take care of yourself. Wishing you all the best!
Thank you Sadie. This sounds like good advice to me. I haven't even gotten to the Cancer Centre. I am still dealing with the Thoracic surgeon at this point, and the waiting for the actual diagnosis/staging/grade has been brutal. Work has provided a bit of a distraction, but I feel like I am doing my company a bit of a disservice as I am definitely not “all there” some days. They have been very understanding and accommodating but I do need to focus on me for a change.
I do meditate and walk somewhat regularly, and I will look into some gentle yoga to start.
Thanks again, all advice is welcome <3
Thank you Maria, it's wonderful that I have the health coverages that I do and am able to take the time off. I can't imagine trying to navigate this diagnosis in the US while having to try and figure out how to pay for my care. Canada may not be perfect, but I am sure glad I live here and not there.