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Afraid to go to work

Afraid to go to work

Posted by Charlie1 on Jul 1, 2020 10:51 am

I am wondering if anyone is experiencing the same anxiety I am? My husband has terminal cancer and it's being managed by chemo. I still have to work and I am wondering if it is safe. I am afraid every time I leave him wondering if I am going to bring anything home or expose him to the virus. I am just so anxious about going to work period. He is still quite capable of taking care of himself even though he has quite a bit of pain sometimes. He wants me to go to work and says he is ok but I struggle every day with this. 

Re: Afraid to go to work

Posted by MCoaster on Jul 1, 2020 12:47 pm


Welcome and thank you for posting.

I am so sorry to hear about your husband.   It is so hard to watch someone you love so affected by cancer.   Going through what you both are with all of the emotional, physical and practical implications let alone the complications of COVID-19 can be very difficult to say the least.   You will find this community to be a very safe, kind and knowledgeable one to be a member of because simply by being here we “get it”.

You need to go to work and, particularly if you enjoy your job, it probably offers you both a break?  Can you do any work at home, adjust your hours to decrease your days at work?   Do you have understanding employers?   There are so many ways to communicate virtually during the day should it be necessary.   Have the doctors etc. who are involved in your husband’s care any suggestions to offer about keeping him safe from infection?    Samiam‍  who I have tagged, was in isolation before surgery may have ideas although her’s was a temporary situation.   Has any one else suggestions?

Sorry that I cannot be more helpful.   There is a fund of experience here and many supportive people who may have more comments.

Warm thoughts.


Re: Afraid to go to work

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Jul 2, 2020 6:22 am

Charlie1‍ , I completely comprehend your concern; I have a celebration of life to go to this Saturday, and I’m hearing tell they’re preparing for 100 people. I’m as nervous as a chipmunk in the presence of my cat!

All you can do is the best you can do. I know nurses and firemen who have implemented strategies in the home to minimize risk to their families - changing into different clothes in the garage, or as soon as they walk in the door; showering as soon a they come home; keeping hand sanitizer and wipes in the car, and wiping everything down before they leave the vehicle; some are even wearing a mask in the house.

Depending on your workplace, you can explain your concerns to your work colleagues, and maybe even put up a sign at your work station that says something like, “My husband is in cancer treatment - please approach only when absolutely necessary.”  Keep those wipes handy and use them in common areas like staff rooms and elevators.

These days, documents can be transferred by e-mail for review, and we can even video conference from “down the hall.” If you’re in a retail environment some of these suggestions might not work for you, but if you wear your mask and sanitize your hands often, you’ll be doing the best you can.
“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

Re: Afraid to go to work

Posted by Lacey_adminCCS on Jul 2, 2020 7:43 am


I appreciate you sharing. I have come across many people who face the same concerns. You're not alone and it's completely understandable. 

I like the suggestions about talking to your employer and your husband's medical team. What is your work environment like.?

Are you currently taking any precautions? Wearing a mask? 

Thinking of you! 

Re: Afraid to go to work

Posted by Charlie1 on Jul 2, 2020 8:38 am

Thank you everyone for your responses! It really feels good to be able to share with people who understand and get it. I, unfortunately, work in a position that requires me to be at work for a percentage of the day. Also, I oversee a large team. I guess lots for me to ponder as it does give my husband and me a break. The oncologist really would not comment about it except to say that it is a personal choice. I know there are no quick-fix answers but, you have all given some great suggestions and I really do appreciate it. I am going to do everything I can to make it safe.

Thank you so much, everyone, I feel very lucky to have found this site and be able to have someone to talk to. Family and friends seem to have disappeared 

Re: Afraid to go to work

Posted by vic777 on Jul 2, 2020 9:43 am

Hi Charlie1‍ 

I just want to say that those that have given you ideas/tips are already bang on.  I have stage 4 cancer and my son is a nervous wreck whenever he visits.  He wears a mask/a face shield and keeps his distance every minute that he is in my house.  I think your doing the basics that others are suggesting, that is make sure you wash your hands as you are leaving work, and when you get home the absolute safest thing you can do is to completely change your clothes and grab a shower.  If you do that every day you are doing the maximum you can do to protect yourself and your husband.
I believe the most important thing is to help yourself feel safe both for yourself and your husband.  I doubt very much that your husband would want it any other way, he wants you to get back to work and have some sort of sense of normalcy through all this crazy world of cancer and covid.  The mere fact that you would express concern demonstrates your understanding and caring to protect your husband.  You go girl!!


Re: Afraid to go to work

Posted by Brendeath on Jul 2, 2020 11:47 am

I’m totally understand how you feel! I’m the person in my family who is currently going through cancer treatments and I work as community health nurse! My doctor suggested sick leave as soon as I started chemotherapy and I got to say I was little disappointed because I felt I would lose the connection I had with work colleagues and clients. Now with the support of family, work colleagues and this group I’m happy with my decision. Taking all the necessary precautions will help you weather this storm. Whatever decision you make will be right for your family. 

Re: Afraid to go to work

Posted by AngelaC on Jul 2, 2020 10:55 pm

Lots of good advice. If you haven’t already, my suggestion is to speak to folks in your HR Department about your situation. It is always good to discuss and be informed/aware of  what options there might be should you choose to use them now or in the future; things like Different types of leave, paid or unpaid, time off to accompany your husband to appointments, working a reduced work week (impact on your pension) etc.  Also, there May be services available to employees and their families  like employee counselling to consider.   One last thing to look into is income support (EI Benefits) should you take time off from work to care for your husband.   Just some  info for you to consider, take care! 

Re: Afraid to go to work

Posted by SpeedyStill on Jul 5, 2020 7:41 pm

Nobody is going to advise you to stay home or go to work. That is a decision that you and your husband have to make.
There can be important comments on one or the other.
Making these tough decisions have been made even tougher by Covid 19.
There have been some great suggestions by other members.
I am a Cancer Survivor who has additional underlying health issues. I am 72 and retired however I still go out for my needs but I do take all the precautions which I think will keep me and others  safe.
➡️ Your last sentence got my attention. " Friends and family seem to have disappeared."
This is a common situation with Cancer and other health issues. 
Various fears is the issue. I will mention one here. Fear of bringing Covid 19 into your bubble. This is a good one because it is pertinent in today's environment.
Live, Love and Laugh

Re: Afraid to go to work

Posted by Lianne_adminCCS on Jul 11, 2020 8:34 pm


Just checking in to see how you are doing.and how you are managing your work situation.

Thinking of you


Re: Afraid to go to work

Posted by Charlie1 on Jul 12, 2020 7:10 pm


Thank you for checking in with me. No, I have not given work any more thought. I have been consumed with a sudden decline in his health. He is sleeping all the time in pain most nights and weighs 117 lbs. I called the emergency oncologist Friday night for some guidance. The chemo has really kicked him in the butt. She told me the pain was from the chemo killing cancer. I don't know how to help him. I feel useless. Sometimes I sit for hours in silence waiting for him to wake up. I have to make a decision but I think the reality is I will be taking a leave from work to deal with what we are going through. I am quite depressed at times and overtaken with the thought of losing him. However, I do not let him see that as I want to be positive and create some good times for him to make it special. Other times I think everyone is wrong and he will be fine. 

Re: Afraid to go to work

Posted by Kims1961 on Jul 12, 2020 8:41 pm

Charlie1‍ I am so sorry to hear about the decline in your husband's health.  It's so hard , when the treatment can be as difficult as the disease.  

Sounds like you have really good instincts about your work and options you have before you.  Taking some time to care for him - and i hope some for you - is so important right now.  Are there others - family/friends that can be helpful as well?  Are there any options - palliatively - that can help with pain control for him?  Have you thought about having someone to talk to , for you?  maybe a social worker at the cancer centre or with your family doctor/health team?  You have so much on your plate.  Trying to be positive , can take alot out of you.  You may also find, that he would be ok, if you were sad, teary, worried - etc.  Sometimes, showing how we are really doing - helps with those difficult conversations.  You are both going through this difficult time.

We are here .  Take good care.  Kim
Her2+, ER+ Bilateral mastectomy in 2017, followed by chemo and radiation. Mack and Hannah's mom

Re: Afraid to go to work

Posted by WestCoastSailor on Jul 12, 2020 9:52 pm


We often get scared when the term palliative is used because we think of it as the end. They are experts though in symptom management. The goal is quality of life. Are palliative services available to you? Many cancer services are now integrating them into treatment much earlier to assist particularly with pain management. Did the oncologist have suggestions for pain management?  Accessing palliative services may give you access to social workers, pharmacists, and doctors who can help in these situations.

My wife died 18 months ago of pancreatic cancer and if I have one regret it is that we didn't access the palliative services earlier. When we did, they literally gave my wife back to me. She had been living in a morphine fog, complete with hallucinations. Four hours after we began hospice, she was lucid and we had precious time together, visiting with friends and family, and making memories that are with me to this day.

I hear the feelings of uselessness. Sometimes though all we can do is sit and be quiet. I found a playlist of music that she had put together and I put it on softly and listened to that as we sat together. I read to her and in her more lucid moments we colored a mandela together that has become a sentimental reminder of that time.

I hope that the treatment will be successful and I applaud your decision to spend this time supporting your husband. I don't think you will regret it.

My story: http://journey.anguspratt.ca

Re: Afraid to go to work

Posted by MCoaster on Jul 12, 2020 9:55 pm

Charlie1‍    I am so sorry to hear about your husband’s decline.  Your mind must be in turmoil and you must be physically worn out.   It really is alright to let your feelings show and may indeed be welcomed by your husband  as he too might truly need show how he is feeling.  Follow your heart and leave nothing important unsaid.  Personally I really believe no matter the stage of life it is important to do.    I do hope you have someone whom you can be open with to support you.  We will be here for you when you need us.

 Kims1961‍ ‘s question about palliative pain medication is a very pertinent one.  Have you and he spoken about the very hard issue of quantity or quality of life?   Often couples have had the conversation in the good times.  My husband and I certainly have.  Please forgive me if I am asking too personal a question.  

Take care of yourself and try to find time and an activity, no matter how little time it takes, for yourself.  Several people  in this group, me included, use mindfulness in stressful times.

Holding both you in my thoughts.



Re: Afraid to go to work

Posted by Lianne_adminCCS on Jul 14, 2020 11:59 am

Charlie1‍  Thank you for taking the time to update us. I too am sorry to hear about your husband's recent decline. You have heard some wonderful feedback from the others so I just wanted to mention a really good resource if it hasn't been brought up before.

Canadian Virtual Hospice  is an excellent resource for helping those in a similar situation as yourselves. Under the Topics tabs you will find a wealth of information  in getting through the day to day, making difficult decisions ( like taking a leave ) , financial considerations and taking care of yourself among others.

We are hear to listen and to support you as best we can so don't hesitate to reach out as you need.
Take care